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Maine Limiting Protected Classifications, Question 1 (1995)

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The Maine Limiting Protected Classifications Initiative, also known as Question 1, was on the November 7, 1995 ballot in Maine as an indirect initiated state statute, where it was defeated.[1] The measure would have limited the protected classifications in future state and local laws to race, color, sex, physical or mental disability, religion, age, ancestry, national origin, familial status and marriage status. It would have repealed existing laws that expanded those classifications.[2] The measure was widely viewed as being aimed at hindering homosexual people from full civil rights.[3]

Background

This was the first time that the question of gay rights was put to voters statewide in Maine. However, between 1977 and 1993, a gay rights bill came before the legislature nine times. The bill would have made it illegal to discriminate in employment, housing, public accommodations and credit against people because they were homosexual. The bill was approved in 1993, but Governor John R. McKernan vetoed it. A gay rights bill was being considered by the legislature, again, in 1995.[3]

The issue had also come up in local governments. In 1992, the city of Portland enacted a gay rights ordinance that was eventually voted upon in referendum in the city, where it was upheld. In 1993, Lewiston City Council enacted a gay rights ordinance, which was later overturned by voters.[3]

Because sexual orientation was not a protected class under state law at the time, the measure was widely viewed as preventing non-heterosexual people from achieving civil rights. The measure would have repealed municipal ordinances in Portland and Long Island that provided gay rights, as well as preventing future municipal ordinances.[3]

Election results

Maine Question 1 (1995)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No221,56253.32%
Yes 193,938 46.68%

Election results via: Maine State Law and Legislative Reference Library, Votes on Initiated Bills 1980-

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[4]

Question 1:

Do you favor the changes in Maine law limiting protected classifications, in future state and local laws to race, color, sex, physical or mental disability, religion, age, ancestry, national origin, familial status, and marital status, and repealing existing laws which expand these classifications as proposed by citizen petition? [5]

Support

  • Concerned Maine Families (CMF)[3]
  • Carolyn Cosby, CMF organizer [3]
  • Coalition to End Special Rights (CESR)[3]
  • Paul Madore, CESR organizer[3]

Concerned Maine Families collected more than 67,000 voter signatures to place Question 1 on the ballot.[3]

Carolyn Cosby, and organizer with Concerned Maine Families, claimed that the group passed on funding from right-wing organizations because they refused to take a stronger anti-gay position in their campaign. The group refused funding from Focus on the Family, but that funding was still given to support the measure through the Coalition to End Special Rights.

Arguments

  • Cosby claimed that discrimination against homosexual people was exaggerated, saying, "You don't create a special class for an entire group of people just because once in awhile someone is denied something."[3]
  • Cosby also posited that if a gay rights bill was enacted, homosexuals would seek affirmative action, hiring quotes, block grant funding for gay-owned businesses and recognition of gay marriages.[3]

Opposition

  • Maine Won't Discriminate (MWD)[3]
  • Patricia Perd, MWD chairwoman[3]
  • Mark Sullivan, MWD member[3]

Patricia Peard, chairwoman of Maine Won't Discriminate, said of the measure,

The main concern about this referendum is that it's so confusing and misleading. It's very unclear what the consequences would be. Although they're targeting gay men and lesbians, it's clear that many other groups would be hurt.

[5]

—Patricia Perd, [3]

Arguments

  • Mark Sullivan of Maine Won't Discriminate stated that the measure would limit any future groups from receiving human rights protections.[3]

Polls

The following polling results were provided in the Bangor Daily News on October 27, 1995, but the article did not report the date of the poll, only that it was recent to the publication of the article, nor the number of persons polled.[3]

Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided Number polled
1995 Christian Potholm 40% 40% 20% Unknown

Similar measures

See also

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