AUGUSTA — A Maine Equal Rights Amendment, which would codify in the state’s Constitution equal protection under the law regardless of gender, received support from two-thirds of the Maine Senate in a vote on Thursday.
LD 433, “RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Explicitly Prohibit Discrimination Based on the Sex of an Individual,” received a bipartisan vote of 26-9 in the Senate.
“It’s imperative that our Constitution, the foundation for all of our laws, clearly and explicitly states that the policies we shape cannot promote, encourage or permit discrimination,” said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, one of the bill’s 113 cosponsors. “It is time to say, in no uncertain terms, that we will not allow discrimination on the basis of sex. It is time to bend the arc of justice toward a more perfect future.”
“Gender-based discrimination — whether it’s in our laws, in our jobs or in society-at-large — harms all of us. I know that our government and state is at its best when the people in power reflect the makeup of the state. The lack of representation of women across the board makes it clear that the Equal Rights Amendment is a necessary addition to our constitution,” said Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. “Adopting the Equal Rights Amendment sends a strong message to the rest of the county that we won’t tolerate discrimination in the state of Maine.”
Constitutional Amendments require two-thirds support in both houses of the Maine Legislature. If passed, an item would be added to a statewide ballot for voter approval. LD 433 will now return to the House for enactment.