Freedom of religion is a fundamental right, one the ACLU will always fight for. It is protected by the constitutions of Maine and the United States. The Maine Human Rights Act explicitly protects people against discrimination based on their religion. And there are 13 individual statutes in Maine law that protect religious freedom.
LD 1428, a so-called "religious freedom" bill, goes far beyond existing religious protections and far beyond what is right or just. It would go so far as to allow anyone who claims a law or regulation has burdened their religious freedom to sue for monetary damages - no matter how minor or indirect the alleged freedom is. It would even allow them to sue pre-emptively, if they merely expect that their religious freedom might be burdened. Worst of all, it would allow people to claim their religious beliefs allow them to break laws and treat other people unfairly - as happened in Texas, where a public bus driver refused to drive a passenger to Planned Parenthood, citing his religious beliefs. And it would do so without any exception for civil rights, criminal behavior, or public safety.
The Portland Press Herald has editorialized against the law, writing "the bill would solve a problem that doesn’t exist while likely creating many others."
The Judiciary Committee will consider LD 1428 on Thursday, January 16. We hope legislators will reject this attempt to legitimize discrimination in Maine.