Maine Legislature Defeats Attack on Transgender Rights
Both the Maine state House and Senate defeated a measure this week that would have stripped trans citizens of the protections afforded them by Maine’s human rights act.
The House voted down the legislation on Tuesday by 81 to 61 with 15 of the Republican majority breaking away to side with the Democratic minority against the bill.
Similarly, the Senate also voted down a counterpart measure by 23-11 on Wednesday.
The bill, LD 1046, originally the work of Rep. Kenneth Fredette (R-Newport), aimed to stop transgender people being able to sue for discrimination if a public or private entity forces them to use the restroom of their perceived birth-assigned sex rather than their self-defined gender identity or expression.
Fredette previously said on introducing this bill that a line needed to be drawn somewhere, and that there is no “absolute right” for a transgender person to be able to choose which restroom they use.
He is also quoted as going straight for the “think of the children” meme: ‘What situation do we put young children in when they go into a private place and then what they perceive to be the person of the opposite sex comes into that bathroom? That could be quite shocking.’”
However, Democratic lawmakers argued against this, saying that trans people are always discreet in how they conduct themselves due to the stigma they face and that these concerns are unfounded and go so far as to demonize an already vulnerable population.
Senate Democrats released this statement following the vote:
SENATE DEFENDS PROTECTIONS FOR TRANSGENDER RIGHTS
Bill is “unnecessary and mean spirited”
AUGUSTA - Senate Democrats today defeated a measure that would have violated the Maine Human Rights Act by restricting transgender people from using the bathroom of the sex for which they identify. The bill was rejected in a vote of 11 – 23.
“This bill is unnecessary and worse it’s mean spirited,” said Senator Phil Bartlett. “Passing this bill would have sent the wrong message to the transgender community or any other minority, for that matter, that we will not protect them. This bill is rooted in hatred and bigotry and cannot be tolerated.”
“We cannot sanction a measure that is based in fear,” said Senator Cynthia Dill of Cape Elizabeth. “Maine people are independent minded and know that there’s no place for a modern day Jim Crow law.”
Nearly 20 states now have transgender nondiscrimination laws in place.
The majority of Mainers who testified when the legislation was in committee stage did so with the firm stance that the bill was wrong and unnecessary.
Indeed, business owners said that the bill created problems for them because it suggested that they would have to screen customers before using restrooms to ensure they were the right sex for the bathroom they had chosen.