"In a year of historic victories for LGBT people, this one ranks near the top." So begins the ACLU statement on passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in the Senate today.
While the people of Maine have acted to protect LGBT people from being fired or not hired based on their sexual orientation, there is no such law in the majority of states. That's why the passage of a federal bill banning such discrimination is critically importantant.
Victory on 1! Last night the voters of Portland approved Question 1 - legalizing marijuana use by adults - by almost 70%! The people of Portland have sent a message (a resounding message at that!) to lawmakers across the state and the nation that now is the time for reform of our marijuana laws. The War on Marijuana has failed. Our criminal justice system is maxed out, our prisons and jails overcrowded, our budgets strained, and we are no safer for it. Furthermore, we have seen incalculable human costs.
Today I listened as two people who have been together for decades described how their lives have changed since they got married in July. Mostly it's in the details: they save a few hundred dollars each month in health care costs. They no longer cart around a huge pile of paperwork everywhere they go to prove their relationship to each other. They call each other spouse, not partner.
This past Saturday, I attended the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Call to Action Panel in Brewer with 28 other women representing organizations from all across Maine. I was welcomed by an enthusiastic group of women of all ages, from Maine’s legislature, University of Maine Women’s Resource Center, Maine NEW Leadership, Business and Professional Women/ME, Maine, Maine Women’s Hall of Fame, and other organizations, gathered together to discuss the current state of the ERA and to move forward with strategy ideas.
A very happy 35th birthday to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The PDA amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions. It marked an enormously important step forward in the fight against discrimination in the workplace, but the work still goes on.
Last Friday, Governor Paul LePage and Public Safety Commissioner John Morris held two Drug Awareness Summits with local law enforcement. These summits were in response to recent data showing rising drug abuse rates in Maine and were closed to both the media and the public. A New York Times article published this past summer highlighted the increased use and availability of heroin throughout New England.
On Sunday evening I took part in an exciting panel discussion in Porter on the issue of public financing and money in politics. These are complicated topics, and ones that good people frequently disagree over. And as yesterday’s packed house evidenced, it’s an issue that many Mainers are thinking heavily about as we get ready to enter a gubernatorial election year.