Our Current Agenda

In the Legislature

Note: the legislature adjourned in mid-March after taking emergency action on a number of COVID-19 related items. Three of our bills are stuck awaiting further action, and we are hopeful that the legislature will be able to return to a special session to complete its work.

LD 1703 - An Act to Improve Consistency within the Maine Human Rights Act
This bill makes several changes to the Maine Human Rights Act in order to achieve consistency, including clarifying that the sexual orientation provisions already in the Maine Human Rights Act extend to gender identity. Sexual orientation and gender identity are two different, though sometimes related, parts of an individual's identity and should both be protected as such.
EqualityMaine supports this bill; it was passed out of committee and is awaiting final action in the House and Senate

LD 1813 - Resolve, To Ensure Safe and Inclusive Learning Environments
This resolve would create a working group to review and develop recommendations to ensure safe and inclusive learning environments for LGBTQ+ students and educators in Maine schools. The goals of the working group are to establish inclusive classrooms for LGBTQ+ students and educators, inclusive hiring and recruiting practices, and the creation of a curriculum audit document to recommend where LGBTQ+ voices, stories and histories are included in the curriculum, among others.
EqualityMaine supports this bill; it has passed both the House and Senate and is awaiting funding from the Appropriations Committee

LD 2162 - An Act To Restore Honor to Certain Service Members
Since World War II, more than 100,000 Americans are estimated to have been discharged from the military because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Those forced out of the military may have left with discharge statuses of “other than honorable,” “general discharge” or “dishonorable,” depending on the circumstances. As a consequence, many of these service members may be disqualified from accessing certain benefits that they earned and are entitled to, and may not be able to claim veteran status. This bill requires the Director of the Maine Bureau of Veterans' Services to establish a process for a veteran who separated from service without an honorable discharge due solely to the veteran's sexual orientation or gender identity or to statements, consensual sexual conduct or consensual acts relating to sexual orientation or gender identity to have that discharge treated as an honorable discharge for purposes of determining the veteran's eligibility for rights, privileges and benefits under state law.
EqualityMaine supports this bill; it was referred to committee and is awaiting further action
 

In the Administrative Process

Maine's Department of Health and Human Services is considering a new rule that would add the option of an “X” gender marker on birth certificates, in addition to "M" and "F", and simplify the process for changing a gender marker, at any age, without medical provider certification (not unlike what Maine already offers for driver's licenses and other state IDs).

In March, we joined our community partners at ACLU Maine, GLAD, and MaineTransNet to testify in support of this proposed rule, and we are hopeful that HHS will release a final rule soon that incorporates these much-needed changes.
   

In the Courts

Any day now, the US Supreme Court will announce its rulings on cases that which will determine whether a landmark 1964 civil rights law that prohibits employment discrimination based on sex also includes sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Maine has had comprehensive non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in state law since 2005, when a strong majority of voters rejected a People's Veto effort led by extremists Michael Heath and the Christian Civic League. But those protections do not apply in states that don't have non-discrimination protections, and a positive outcome in these cases would go a long way towards LGBTQ+ people having the same protections from discrimination no matter where they live.     

To learn more about what's at stake for our community at the Supreme Court, check out this recent episode of Zoomin' with EQME - featuring our superstar colleague from GLAD, Mary Bonauto.                                                                      

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