Maine city's gay rights law headed for ballot

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com September 10 2002 11:00 PM ET

The leader of a campaign to overturn a new gay rights law in Westbrook, Maine--located west of Portland--has presented more than enough signatures to the city clerk's office to place the measure on the ballot. The ordinance prohibits discrimination in housing, employment, credit, and access to public accommodations based on a person's sexual orientation.

Paul Volle, director of the Christian Coalition of Maine, had presented 1,539 certified signatures to the office as of Monday. That is 457 more than is needed to force a vote on the issue.

Volle said many residents are opposed to the new law on moral and legal grounds. Others are angry because the council passed the ordinance in July without putting the matter to a vote, he said. "The momentum is on our side," he added. Volle, who lives in Westbrook, is a longtime opponent of gay rights laws and helped force a statewide vote several years ago that overturned a similar state law.

The Reverend Susan Gilpin, who proposed the ordinance last winter, said she and her supporters welcome the challenge. She said she is helping organize an educational campaign to familiarize people with the language of the law and the large number of the political and business leaders who support it. "The fact that it's on the ballot brings the issue to everybody's attention and gives us a chance to address a difficult topic," she said. "It's a great opportunity for us to learn."