April 05, 2020

I am writing concerning the special election planned for Feb. 10. I am concerned about the confusion that is being promoted by those people who would restrict civil rights to limited segments of our state’s population. If the citizens of Maine would like for all people — whether gay or straight — to have protection from discrimination in employment, housing, accommodations and credit, then we need to vote no on Feb. 10.

I feel I am a very fortunate person. I am an assistant professor of social work at the University of Maine, an institution that has a nondiscrimination clause that protects gay and lesbian employees from being fired due to their sexual orientation. Most gays and lesbians in Maine would not have that protection if we were to repeal the Human Rights Amendment passed by the Maine State Legislature last spring.

Until very recently, I rented an apartment in Bangor. Before the passage of the Human Rights Amendment — now threatened to be repealed — my landlords could have evicted me if they suspected I was a lesbian. No laws would have stopped them.

When I recently bought a house in Bangor I needed to borrow money for my mortgage, as most people do. The mortgage company, which gave me a loan, could have refused to lend me money if the loan officer thought I was a lesbian.

By adding sexual orientation to the Maine Human Rights Act, the state Legislature wisely chose to prevent random and cruel acts of discrimination toward one class of people. In short, the referendum asks us to repeal this much needed law.

I invite readers to join the faculty of the School of Social Work and others in my professional organization — the Maine Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers — in voting no on Feb. 10. Sandy Butler Bangor

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