BANGOR, Maine Eight complaints have been filed with the Maine Human Rights Commission alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation since the state’s gay rights law took effect about six months ago.
The number of complaints filed in Maine is about what was expected and is comparable to other states with similar laws, said Pat Ryan, executive director of the Human Rights Commission. Ryan had predicted that there would be about 12 to 15 cases a year.
Ryan would not release details of the complaints, which are under investigation, but she said they deal mostly with employment issues.
Supporters of the new law said the complaints show that a law was needed to protect the rights of gays and lesbians.
The law, which went into effect Dec. 28, 2005, added sexual orientation to the list of classes protected from discrimination under the Maine Human Rights Act in areas including housing, employment, credit, public accommodations and education.
“It means that more than once a month, someone believes they have been discriminated against, and it’s probably more,” said Betsy Smith, executive director of Equality Maine.
But opponents said the number of complaints show that there is no widespread discrimination against gays and lesbians.
“There was no need for this law, and we still don’t see a need for it,” said Paul Madore of the Maine Grassroots Coalition.
Maine voters last November rejected a referendum that sought to repeal the law, which was adopted in March 2005.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, July 21, 2006.