Maine Curbs on Rights Fail

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Organizers of a failed Maine referendum—that would have repealed a Portland homosexual rights ordinance and deleted violence based on sexual orientation from a list of hate crimes at the state level—are worried that special rights for homosexuals may be created.

Maine voters on November 7 defeated Question 1 by a 53 percent to 47 percent margin. While the referendum did not mention the word homosexuality, it would have limited state and local laws to protect only the classes of "race, color, sex, physical or mental disability, religion, age, ancestry, national origin, and familial status."

Both Cliff Tinkham of Concerned Maine Families and Paul Madore of Coalition to End Special Rights—the two most active groups that worked for passage of the referendum—told CT that the state legislature may pass a special homosexual rights law next year. They say that for the first time, the state now has both a legislative majority and a governor that support such a measure.

"This was not a 'so what?' issue for homosexuals," Tinkham says. "If we had been successful, people in other states would have known to go the citizen referendum route." Tinkham says the ballot initiative was worded carefully enough that it could have withstood court challenges.

A constitutional amendment approved by 53 percent of Colorado voters in 1992 limiting special homosexual rights is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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