57,000 signatures are needed by January to put a new referendum on the ballot in November 2012. Here’s hoping for a pretty wonderful belated birthday gift that year.
Newport Republican Rep. Ken Fredette’s defeated bill stemmed from a pair of cases that are being decided in Superior Court. In Orono, a boy who identifies as a girl wasn’t allowed to use the girls bathroom in a middle school. In Auburn, a restaurant barred a transgender woman from using the ladies room.
Fredette sought to give school systems and business owners more leeway in making decisions affecting who should use their restrooms. It was not, he said during the House debate, an attempt to prohibit transgender people — those who are born with one gender but identify with the other — from using the bathrooms.
But opponents said that rather than protecting businesses and schools from litigation over the issue, it will invite more.
“Anyone who goes down this path will be inundated by lawsuits,” Sen. Philip Bartlett II, D-Gorham, said during Wednesday’s debate. “My guess is that most businesses in the state won’t want to have anything to do with this.”
Bartlett added that the bill “is unnecessary, it is mean-spirited, it is unworkable,” and appeared to be motivated by “bigotry and hatred.”
It’s nice when good things happen in Maine.