Friday, July 29, 2005

Maine-ly Deceptive

As most Mainers anticipated, the ballot question to strip sexual orientation from anti-discrimination laws will appear on the November ballot. The state certified the petition drive's numbers yesterday.

As they did during the petition drive, the anti forces are going extreme and emotional. While the law they want to tweak forbids discrimination, they frame it as leading directly to Massachusetts-style same-sex marriage.

The actual ballot question is pretty plain:
DO YOU WANT to reject the new law that would protect people from discrimination in employment, housing, education, public accommodations and credit based on the their sexual orientation?
It asks whether you want to return to the dark days of yesteryear (or the present) when everyone can openly discriminate against gays for being gay.

The affected law is here.

The pro-rights folk, as well as the governor and the majority of the legislature, are more rational and honest about it. Their state had a history and reputation for discrimination, à la Mississippi or the like, and it was overdue for change. It didn't hurt that polls showed the majority of the voters, even those opposed to same-sex marriage, said it was unfair to discriminate by sexual orientation.

So the battle is met and is likely to be nasty. Maine Won't Discriminate and Equality Maine and likely to have a tough time countering the lies, half-truths, and emotional appeals in the next four months.

For example, one of the chief haters was happy to show his hand yesterday in interviews:
"This law will help secure the right to marry (for gay people)," asserted Michael Heath, executive director of the Christian Civic league of Maine and one of the leading opponents of the measure. "It is establishing the idea that sexual orientation is a legitimate orientation when it comes to individual rights . . . (and) when it comes to your sexual expression, the state is going to come to your aid."
In contrast, Maine Won't Discriminate's Jesse Connolly said simply, "This is about discrimination in those five areas of the law, nothing more, nothing less."

She betting reason and honesty will prevail. She and the other pro folk will have to repeat their message many thousands of times all over the state for that to happen.

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