“Please vote to end the war on gay people in our state.” So said Maine Democratic State Rep. Matthew W. Moonen, speaking this morning in opposition to a Republican sponsored bill that would allow anti-gay discrimination by anyone for any reason, as long as they could claim it was done under their sincerely held religious beliefs.
LD 1428 “would carve out an exception for religious beliefs in the state’s non-discrimination laws, such as the Maine’s Human Rights Act,” said Maine’s Speaker of the House, Mark Eves, in a published statement. Eves added it “would undercut human rights protections and women’s rights by creating a loophole in the state’s strong non-discrimination laws.”
This afternoon, after several hours of debate, the Maine House rejected the religious license to discriminate legislation, following the same move last week by the Maine Senate. The vote was 89-52. For now, the legislation in the state of Maine is dead.
Moonen’s Democratic colleague, Rep. Andrew J. McLean, told the House that the legislation, LD 1428, “An Act to Protect Religious Freedom” actually denies religious freedom.
Rep. Justin Chenette, who at 22 is the youngest openly-gay legislator in America, talked eloquently and vehemently about how the bill would affect him. “Religious freedom is important, but this bill makes me feel like a second-class citizen… Name me an issue in Maine — I still haven’t heard one.”
“There isn’t an issue. This is a bill searching for a problem, rather than solving one,” Chenette told his colleagues. “This wastes taxpayer money… It’s fiscally responsible to oppose it.”
But GOP Rep. Alex R. Willette was of a different mind. He claimed that LD 1428 would not be a license to discriminate, nor would it “open a Pandora’s Box” to allow anyone to get away with anything.
Rep. Willette was mistaken, as was Rep. Michael McClellan, who noted that there are “eighteen states who already have this legislation.”
That point is very interesting, because there has been a dastardly, organized, concerted effort to infect all 50 U.S. states with these so-called “religious freedom restoration acts.”
LD 1428 may be dead in Maine, but there are many other attempts right now in states across the nation.
This isn’t going away any time soon.
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