The religious right in Maine would have you believe the Feb. 10 referendum vote is about the sexual behavior of gays and lesbians. It’s not.
The goal of referendum supporters is the repeal of last year’s law adding sexual orientation to the state’s civil rights law forbidding discrimination in employment housing, credit and public accommodations.
But please notice that gays and lesbians are not the target of the new law. The law is targeted at those people who use their own sexual fantasies as the basis for decisions in the areas of employment, housing, credit and public accommodations.
It will not be easy for people to violate this new law. It will take a concerted effort and a certain amount of mental agility. To violate this law will take several — shall we say — leaps of faith.
First, the violator must decide that the person before him matches the stereotypes of a gay or lesbian, and thus must be a gay or lesbian. Then he must imagine — fantasize — that the person before him, being a stereotypical gay or lesbian, must therefore engage in sexual acts of which he disapproves.
But no law can ban sexual fantasies, and this one is no exception. To break this law, he must take a third step, and must deny employment, credit, housing or public accommodations to the person before him, based exclusively on what the person fantasizes the purported gay or lesbian standing ther must be doing in the privacy of his or her own home.
If you are straight — or celibate — you are wrong to assume that this law has nothing to do with you. Notice that, under this law, it doesn’t matter whether or not you are gay, or whether you actually do any of the things that the person fantasizes you doing. It only matters that the person thinks you are gay and are doing nasty things behind closed doors.
The bottom line is that this new legislation outlaws discrimination based on sexual fantasies.
The religious right doesn’t like that bottom line, and wants you to repeal this law.
If you think it is OK for people to discriminate against people thay think might be gay — even if that turns out to be you — then vote “yes” in repeal.
If, on the other hand, you think some person’s conjecture about whether you are straight or gay, or his fantasies about what you must be doing in the privacy of your own bedroom, should have no bearing on whether you get credit at a bank, can rent a house or a motel room, can get a meal in a restaurant or a job, then vote against this repeal effort.
And, if you are in the second category, don’t sit home and count on other people to keep this one on the books. Jean Hay Bangor