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Maine voters repeal homosexual rights law

WASHINGTON (BP)–The voters of Maine dealt a setback to the homosexual rights movement Feb. 10, repealing a state law granting civil rights status to homosexuals.
Though official results were not available, the Bangor (Maine) Daily News reported the referendum succeeded by a margin of about 52 to 48 percent, according to The Washington Post. The referendum was taken on a law enacted last spring.
The vote marked the second time in four months supporters of homosexual rights have lost in a statewide initiative. In November, voters in Washington defeated a homosexual rights initiative by 60 to 40 percent.
Some opponents of homosexual rights said the two statewide results show the tide may be turning against what has appeared in recent years to be a unabated advance by the homosexual movement.
“It’s a huge, huge victory,” said Peter LaBarbera, an analyst for the Washington-based Family Research Council. “I think people are waking up, and they are seeing that it can be beaten. It just goes to show you that homosexual triumphs are not inevitable. I think this is something that can give hope to the rest of the nation.”
Mike Heath, executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine, told The Washington Times, “Until now, it has been looking as if homosexual rights were sweeping the nation. My sense is we are at a turning point. …”
LaBarbera, who publishes a watchdog publication called the Lambda Report on Homosexuality, said the vote means New England has one state without a homosexual rights law. The other northeastern states — Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire — have laws classifying “sexual orientation” as a protected status in such areas as employment and housing.
The other states with homosexual rights laws are California, Hawaii, Minnesota, New Jersey and Wisconsin. The District of Columbia also has such a law.
Opponents of homosexual rights can win such elections if they work hard and communicate the proper information to voters, LaBarbera said. “People just do not think of homosexuality as a normal civil rights issue,” he said.
Homosexuality is not an unchangeable trait like race and gender, other categories given civil rights protection, say opponents of homosexual rights.
The Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest homosexual political organization, blamed the Maine results partly on a low voter turnout, even though the percentage voting, about 30 percent, was high for a single-issue election.
The experience in Maine demonstrates why there is a need for “a single, uniform federal law to protect gay people against discrimination, particularly in employment,” said Elizabeth Birch, HRC’s executive director, in a written statement. “That’s why we are continuing to press Congress” for passage of the Employment Non-discrimination Act, she said.
ENDA failed by only one vote in the Senate in 1996 but has yet to be voted on in this Congress. Even if ENDA were to pass the Senate, its chance for passage in the House of Representatives appears extremely doubtful.