• Marriage in Maine

May 2017 Updates

Chris O'Connor's picture
Written by Chris O'Connor
May 19, 2017 - 2:41am
This month we are seeing how fragile the rights of LGBT Americans are under the Trump Administration – and how we must always remain vigilant.
 
For weeks we heard persistent rumors of a religious exemptions executive order that would establish a sweeping license to discriminate against LGBT Americans and others – and while this month’s executive order does not directly single out LGBT people for discrimination, we are still very concerned about how it could allow churches to participate in politics in new and alarming ways.  
 
On the homefront, it’s been a busy legislative session in Augusta and we have been working diligently to protect the rights of LGBT Mainers by standing against several bills that would negatively impact our community. I’m happy to report that all three bills were defeated!
 
Please read on for more updates about these bills and other highlights of our most recent work.
 
Thank you, as always, for standing with us and keeping us strong for the challenges that lay ahead. 

Sincerely,
Matt Moonen
Executive Director

PS- Be on the lookout for info about Pride 2017 in the next few days!

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES FROM AUGUSTA

It's crunch time in Augusta.  The legislative session is ramping up quickly as adjournment nears. We've been busy standing up for LGBT Mainers on the following bills: 

LD 121 - An Act to Require Photographic Identification to Vote

Many transgender Mainers face challenges in updating or even obtaining the ID’s that would be required by this bill. A person’s current ID may not list their name or gender correctly, or they may not have a photo that best reflects their current gender expression, creating a situation where a trans voter could be turned away at a polling place.EqualityMaine opposed this bill, and it was defeated!

LD 155 - An Act To Protect Voting Integrity by Establishing a Residency Verification Requirement for Purposes of Voting

This bill specifically targeted college students who live in dorms, placing additional burdens on them to establish proof of residency in order to vote.  From our experience with 6 statewide referendums in 17 years, we know that young people voting can mean the difference between winning and losing, and we oppose any attempts to suppress their votes. EqualityMaine opposed this bill, and it was defeated!

LD 505 - An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Issuance of Birth Certificates for Adopted Persons Born in Maine

This bill would prohibit the issuance, after adoption, of a birth certificate naming the adoptive parents as the legal parents of their own child - a radical departure from the law and practice of every other state that would significantly harm Maine families with adoptive parents, including those with LGBT adoptive parents. EqualityMaine opposed this bill, and it was defeated!

ON THE NATIONAL FRONT

 

This month, Congress saw the re-introduction of the Equality Act — federal legislation that would finally guarantee explicit, permanent protections for LGBT people under our nation's existing civil rights laws. The bipartisan legislation would provide clear and equal protections under federal law for all Americans in vital areas of life, like employment, access to public spaces, housing, credit, education, jury service, and federally-funded programs. 

While Maine has had very strong and inclusive non-discrimination laws on the books for more than a decade, in 31 U.S. states LGBT people remain at risk of being fired, evicted or denied services simply because of who they are. 

We'd like to thank our own Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Senator Angus King for co-sponsoring this important legislation to bring equal protections to the whole country.

OVER 90 ATTEND OUT & ABOUT CONFERENCE AT UMF!

Our spring conference, Out & About, was a wonderful success. The one-day event, held on the campus of University of Maine at Farmington last week, was our 5th conference to support LGBTQ youth.  Over 90 folks attended the educational gathering, coming together to hear new information, learn important skills, and create strategies to makes schools safer for LGBTQ youth. Participants who attended were: educators, school counselors, college students, high school and middle school students, as well as parents.

Special guest speakers were Kate Foster, President of UMF; Matt Moonen, our Executive Director; and Jonas Maines, UMF student and LGBTQ advocate. There were 9 workshops and presentations attendees could choose from throughout the day, each addressing a specific issue that affects the health and safety of LGBTQ youth. The presentations were led by the Maine Human Rights Commission, GLAD (GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders), Safe Voices, Outright Lewiston/Auburn, OUT Maine, Health Equity Alliance, Out and Allied Youth Theater, UMaine at Orono, and GLSEN Southern Maine.  

The event was organized by our Program Director, Gia Drew, and was co-sponsored by UMF's Rainbow League, GLSEN Southern Maine, and Barclaycard. Planning for our fall conference is already underway, with a return to the campus of UMaine at Orono for a two-day event, October 20-21, 2017.

DON'T MISS THIS!

LGBTQ+ YOUTH LOBBY DAY
THIS WEDNESDAY, May 17th
7:30am-1pm
State House, Augusta

Youth Lobby Day is intended to educate, inspire and further the development of Maine’s LGBTQ+ youth. This event is being organized by a few young activists from central Maine and is co-sponsored by EqualityMaine and GLSEN Southern Maine. We invite young people (around high school age) from across the state to Lobby Day at the State House, to learn about the legislative process, learn how to lobby, meet and connect with legislators, and discuss important issues that affect LGBTQ+ youth. 

To sign up: click HERE!
 

JOIN THE EQME TEAM!

We are currently accepting applications for our Street Canvass Fundraising Team in the Greater Portland area. Seeking motivated people with great communication skills that are passionate about the fight for full equality for LGBT Mainers!  May thru October. Pay starts at $12/hour with bonuses for surpassing goals and opportunities for advancement.
 
For more info or to apply, email our Canvass Team Directors, Benn and David, atcanvass@equalitymaine.org or call 207-761-3732 x19.
 

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