Highlights from the 131st Maine Legislature – LGBTQ+ Victories

EqualityMaine worked tirelessly to achieve continued legislative success for LGBTQ+ Mainers during the first session! The state legislature passed over two dozen pro-equality bills, and even more anti-LGBTQ bills failed. We and our partners advocated for access to gender-affirming care, bodily autonomy, protections against discrimination, and improvements to the Maine Human Rights Act, to name just a few. At the same time, we fought against numerous threats to our community’s rights and protections. Read more about some of our achievements below!

LD 489 - An Act to Provide Equal Educational Opportunity by Adopting Rules Ensuring Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Protected Class Status in Educational Institutions

Presented by Rep. Brennan of Portland. Cosponsored by Sen. Hickman of Kennebec and Rep. Dodge of Belfast, Rep. Hobbs of Wells, Rep. Perry of Calais, Rep. Rana of Bangor, Rep. Reckitt of South Portland, Speaker Talbot Ross of Portland, Sen. Pierce of Cumberland, Sen. Rafferty of York.

This bill amends the Maine Human Rights Act to direct the Commissioner of Education and the Maine Human Rights Commission to review the rules made under the Maine Revised Statutes on or before January 15, 2024 and at least once every 10 years thereafter to reflect changes in statute and best practices to ensure an individual's right to freedom from discrimination in education. 

We all want what’s best for kids so they can feel included and safe, and in turn, thrive at school. We also believe that people want to know what’s expected of them in terms of rules and protocols. Unfortunately, because the rules and regulations have not been updated in more than 20 years, schools and school districts have been left to figure things out by themselves, navigating varying priorities, interests, and local expectations and understandings. LD 489 would ensure that policies keep pace with civil rights progress. In contrast to the large number of bills put forth (and killed) as part of a national, coordinated campaign to disrupt the education of LGBTQ+ students and to disrupt public schools generally, this legislation provides a pathway to clear rules, guidance, and guidelines to protect against discrimination under the Maine Human Rights Act and will help schools provide the school environment all students need to feel safer and be able to learn.

LD 535 - An Act to Increase Access to Necessary Medical Care for Certain Minors

Presented by Rep. Sheehan of Biddeford. Cosponsored by Sen. Tipping of Penobscot and Rep. Malon of Biddeford, Rep. Moonen of Portland, Rep. Osher of Orono, Rep. Rana of Bangor.

LD 535 establishes the process by which a minor who is mentally and physically competent to give consent may consent to gender-affirming hormone therapy and follow-up care if the minor is at least 16 years of age, has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, is experiencing or expected to experience harm from not receiving gender-affirming hormone therapy, has discussed the gender dysphoria diagnosis with the minor's parent or guardian but that parent or guardian refuses to support treatment of the gender dysphoria and receives certain detailed information and counseling from a health care professional prior to providing informed written consent.

Research unequivocally demonstrates that gender-affirming care improves the mental health and overall well-being of gender diverse children and adolescents. Gender-affirming care encompasses many types of healthcare needs and supports, and social and medical gender-affirming healthcare practices have been demonstrated to yield lower rates of adverse mental health outcomes, build self-esteem, and improve overall quality of life for transgender and gender diverse youth. Quite simply, the treatment focuses on aligning outward, physical traits with a person’s gender identity, which in turn can be life improving and even life-saving.

Maine expands ability of older teens to receive gender-affirming care without parents' consent

LD 942 - Resolve, to Establish a Plan for Adding a 3rd Option for Gender on State Forms

Presented by Rep. Sheehan of Biddeford. Cosponsored by Sen. Daughtry of Cumberland, Rep. Kuhn of Falmouth, Rep. Moonen of Portland, Rep. Osher of Orono, Rep. Reckitt of South Portland, Rep. Roberts of South Berwick, Rep. Stover of Boothbay.

This resolve directs the Department of Administrative and Financial Services to coordinate with all executive branch and quasi-independent entities to compile a list of all printed and electronic forms, applications and other documents used by these entities that require a person to designate that person’s gender and estimate the time and cost required to include within those forms, applications, and other documents an option to designate “X” for gender. 

When filling out most forms, applications, and other state agency documents, many in the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transgender, nonbinary, and intersex people, must fit themselves into the current constraints of government databases at the expense of being truthful and feeling respected. Maine, along with 16 other states and DC, already allows residents to mark M, F, or X on their birth certificates. Adding a gender marker option of X throughout state agency forms would acknowledge and honor diverse gender identities, allowing Mainers to be seen for who they are by their government.

The benefits of adding a third option for gender go beyond treating people with dignity. Nonbinary and intersex people experience increased discrimination and invasive questioning when the perception of their gender is in conflict with their gender marker. On an administrative level, adding a third gender marker to all state agency forms would ensure that there are no inconsistencies among various agencies’ documents, which lead to bureaucratic delays, inefficiencies, and frustration. Furthermore, the addition of a third gender marker would greatly improve the collection of accurate demographic data throughout the state.

LD 956 - An Act Concerning Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Data Collection in Health Care Facilities

Presented by Rep. Rana of Bangor. Cosponsored by Sen. Baldacci of Penobscot, Rep. Madigan of Waterville, Rep. Moonen of Portland, Rep. Sheehan of Biddeford, Rep. Skold of Portland, Sen. Tipping of Penobscot.

This bill requires health care facilities to collect data related to sexual orientation and gender identity from an individual as part of the individual's health care information.

Having accurate data about the LGBTQ+ community pertaining to our health, including health outcomes, helps provide accurate and scientific information about health trends and can point out barriers our community faces. Collection of quality data is essential for evidence-based policymaking as well. Currently, there is a need for more agencies to improve and expand their efforts to collect information on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), including data on intersex populations. Doing so will better inform and facilitate policy decisions designed to understand and address disparities for LGBTQ+ people. 

While defending against attacks, opportunities emerge to extend trans rights in Maine

LD 1040 - An Act to Require Reimbursement for Gender-affirming Care for MaineCare Members

Presented by Rep. Moonen of Portland. Cosponsored by Rep. Rana of Bangor, Sen. Baldacci of Penobscot, Rep. Craven of Lewiston, Rep. Graham of North Yarmouth, Rep. Madigan of Waterville, Rep. Meyer of Eliot, Rep. Shagoury of Hallowell, Rep. Zager of Portland, Sen. Ingwersen of York.

This bill prohibits the MaineCare program from discriminating in its reimbursement for medically necessary treatment on the basis of a MaineCare member's gender identity or gender expression, or on the basis that the MaineCare member is a transgender individual, and requires that the program cover medically necessary treatment for or related to gender dysphoria.

Gender transition that falls within a member’s scope of covered MaineCare benefits (physician services, prescribed drugs, inpatient and outpatient hospital services) will be covered under
the MaineCare program when medically necessary. By steadfastly aligning with accepted standards of care, this legislation represents a critical step in reducing documented transgender health disparities, especially in low-income populations, and puts into law, what was already administrative practice. 


LD 1507 - An Act to Ensure the Accuracy of Vital Records with Respect to Gender

Presented by Rep. Sheehan of Biddeford. Cosponsored by Rep. Malon of Biddeford, Rep. Skold of Portland.

LD 1507 provides that a person married in this State may apply to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics for a new marriage certificate reflecting the person's change of gender and the person's new first and middle names, if any. It also directs that a death certificate reflects the desired gender identity of the individual who has died.

This bill, which is part of an effort to allow the amendment of a marriage certificate to reflect a change of gender as well as the notation of gender identity on a death certificate, will ultimately allow Mainers to be seen for who they are not only during their lifetimes but also through the key events of their lives as they are preserved in the annals of history. The collection of quality data is essential for informed analysis across many topics, especially in healthcare, and there has been a widely-identified need for more entities to improve and expand their efforts to collect information on sexual orientation and gender identity. Additionally, allowing for amendment of a marriage certificate and designation of gender identity on a death certificate would ensure that there are fewer inconsistencies among various documents, which lead to bureaucratic delays, inefficiencies, and frustration. The legal and social obstacles presented by inaccurate gender markers on official documents can be great barriers to healthcare, housing, and more.

LD 1736 - An Act to Advance the National HIV/AIDS Strategy in Maine by Broadening HIV Testing

Presented by Rep. Osher of Orono. Cosponsored by Sen. Baldacci of Penobscot and Rep. Craven of Lewiston, Rep. Dhalac of South Portland, Rep. Geiger of Rockland, Rep. Javner of Chester, Rep. Milliken of Blue Hill, Rep. Moonen of Portland, Sen. Moore of Washington. 

This bill makes the following changes to broaden HIV testing in the State: It requires an individual 13 years of age or older who is receiving medical services to be offered an HIV test if the individual has not been under regular care from a primary care provider unless that individual is being treated for a life-threatening emergency. It requires a health care provider to include an HIV test in the standard set of medical tests performed on an individual with a possible sexually transmitted disease or infection. It requires health insurance carriers to provide coverage for annual HIV testing for all individuals 13 years of age or older in health insurance policies and contracts beginning January 1, 2024.

HIV disproportionately impacts certain demographics, such as LGBTQ+ people, with 70% of new infections in 2019 occurring among gay and bisexual men. Studies suggest that cost (or lack of reimbursement by insurance) is the greatest barrier to people across all demographics in pursuing HIV testing, as well as stigma. Numerous entities, both governmental and private, recommend and have fostered the “normalization” of HIV testing as something that everyone should do as part of living a healthy life, and a necessary part of this normalization is to increase access and availability.

LD 1906 - An Act to Enable Confirmatory Adoption

Presented by Rep. Moonen of Portland.

This bill establishes a confirmatory adoption proceeding that involves a child born as a result of assisted reproduction and an individual who did not give birth to that child and is a parent or presumed parent.

For children born through assisted reproduction, one or both of their parents might not be genetically related to them because of use of donor gametes. For these children, it is important to secure their parentage through a court judgment, such as an adoption decree, to avoid any attempts to undermine their parent-child relationship. Adoption decrees are court judgments that are easily recognizable and receive respect in all jurisdictions. This bill makes the adoption process more streamlined and efficient for these children and families who need an adoption decree to confirm an existing parent-child relationship.


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