Maine Gay Rights Bill Signed Into Law

Maine Gov. John Baldacci signed into law a bill to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination, making Maine the sixth and final New England state to do so.

“This act not only offers essential civil rights, but serves as a welcome,” the Democratic governor, who submitted the legislation, told cheering supporters who packed the State House Cabinet Room. “Our doors are open to all people. This is a proud day for Maine.”

The law takes effect in late June, 90 days after last week’s adjournment of this year’s regular legislative session.

The measure amends the Maine Human Rights Act by outlawing discrimination in employment, housing, credit, public accommodations and education based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Maine law now prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, disability, religion, ancestry and national origin.

The new law will exempt religious organizations that do not receive public funds. It also makes clear that the law does not condone or authorize gay marriages.

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