The Upcoming Vote on Sexual Fantasies
January 3, 1998
The religious right in Maine would have you believe that the February 10 referendum vote is about the sexual behavior of gays and lesbians. It's not.
The goal of the referendum supporters is the repeal of last year's law adding sexual orientation to the state's civil rights law forbidding discrimination in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations.
But please notice that gays and lesbians are not the target of the new law (which has been forced into limbo until the referendum results are in).
The new law's target is business people. Specifically, the law is targeted at those business people who use their own sexual fantasies as the basis for business decisions in the areas of employment, housing, credit and public accommodations.
It is this behavior - of the business people - which the new legislation outlaws.
It will not be easy for businesspeople to violate this new law. It will take a concerted effort and a certain amount of mental agility. After all, unless the person standing before the businessman is actually involved in a sexual act right then and there, the businessman, to violate this law, must make several - shall we say - leaps of faith.
First the businessman must decide that the person before him matches the stereotypes of a gay or lesbian, and thus must be a gay or lesbian. Then the businessman must imagine - fantasize - that the person before him, being a stereotypical gay or lesbian, must therefore engage in sexual acts of which the businessperson disapproves.
But no law can ban sexual fantasies, and this one is no exception. To break this law, the businessperson must take a third step.
The business person, after taking steps one and two, must then deny employment, credit, housing or public accommodations to the person before him, based exclusively on what the business person fantasizes the purported gay or lesbian standing there must be doing in the privacy of his or her own home.
(If you are straight - or celibate - you are wrong to assume that this law has nothing to do with you. Notice that, under this law, it doesn't matter whether or not you are gay, or whether you actually do any of the things that the businessperson fantasizes you doing. It only matters that the businessperson THINKS you are gay and are doing nasty things behind closed doors, and discriminates accordingly.)
The bottom line is that this new legislation outlaws discrimination based on the sexual fantasies of business people.
The religious right doesn't like that bottom line, and wants you to repeal this law.
If you think it is OK for business people to discriminate against people they think might be gay -- even if that turns out to be you - then vote "yes" to repeal.
If, on the other hand, you think that some business person's conjecture about whether you are straight or gay, or his fantasies about what you must be doing in the privacy of your own bedroom, should have no bearing on whether you get credit at a bank, can rent a house or a motel room, can get a meal in a restaurant or a job, then vote against this repeal effort on February 10.
And, if you are in the second category, don't sit home and count on other people to keep this one on the books.
On February 10, 1998, 51.5% of the people who went to the polls
(31% of all registered voters) voted to repeal Maine's gay rights law.