LGBT rights in Maine

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Map of USA ME.svg
StatusLegal since 1976
(Legislative repeal)
Gender identityYes
Discrimination protectionsYes, both sexual orientation and gender identity (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsSame-sex marriage since 2012
Domestic partnerships since 2004

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) rights in the U.S. state of Maine are a recent occurrence, with most advances and enhances in LGBT rights in the state taking place since the early 2000s. LGBTQ+ people in Maine have some of the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexuals, however may face some legal issues not experienced by non-LGBTQ+ residents.

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Maine repealed its statutory criminalization of same-sex sexual activity in 1976.[1]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Maine originally banned marriage for same sex couples in 1997.[2]

Maine established domestic partnerships for same-sex couples in April 2004.[3]

On May 6, 2009, the state enacted a law to allow same-sex marriage in Maine.[4][5] Before the law went into effect, it was repealed by referendum on November 3, 2009.[6][7]

On January 26, 2012, a petition for a same-sex marriage initiative was delivered to the Secretary of State with over 105,000, more than needed to qualify for the ballot.[8]

On November 7, 2012, a majority of Maine voters approved the Question 1 referendum by a margin of 53% to 47%, legalizing same-sex marriage in the state.[9] The law took effect on December 29, 2012.

Maine has provided benefits to same-sex partners of state employees since 2001.[10]

Adoption and parenting[edit]

Maine law permits single LGBTQ+ persons and same-sex couples to petition to adopt.[11]

Discrimination protection[edit]

In 1977, a bill was introduced in the legislature to add sexual orientation to the Maine Human Rights Act. It failed to pass, but a similar bill was proposed each year. Prior to 2005, the bill was vetoed by the Governor or was rejected by voters in the form of a statewide ballot measure. [16]

In 1984 an LGBT rights group was formed in response to the murder of a young gay man named, Charlie Howard. Today, the organization is known as Equality Maine.

In the 1990s, Portland, Long Island, and Bar Harbor passed local laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. [17]

The Maine Human Rights Act penalizes discrimination in employment, housing, credit, public accommodations and education opportunity on the basis of sexual orientation or actual or perceived gender identity or expression.[12] The Human Rights Act was amended to add these protections by the passage of LD 1196 in 2005. It was challenged to a veto referendum, which was defeated by 55% of voters, resulting in the approval of the law.

Hate crime law[edit]

Maine's hate crime law explicitly addresses sexual orientation. It does not address gender identity.[13]

Gay and trans panic defence[edit]

In June 2019 - the Maine Legislature passed a bill (House vote 132-1 and Senate vote 35-0) also with the Governor of Maine signature to ban the "gay and trans panic defence" effective since July 1, 2019. Similar laws within Nevada, New York State, Rhode Island, California, Connecticut, Illinois and Hawaii have already prohibited and/or abolished the "gay and trans panic defence".[14][15]

Gender identity[edit]

Transgender individuals born within Maine may amend their birth certificates, only after sexual reassignment surgery.[16]

Since July 1, 2019 - Maine has made available a "gender X" option (as well as the binary male and female) on drivers licenses.[17][18]

Doe v. Regional School Unit 26[edit]

In 2013 the Maine Supreme Court ruled in against an Orono School district who was denied a student the use of a bathroom in alignment with their gender identity. This was the first time that a "Bathroom Ban" of any kind had been ruled on in the United States and the first time that such a kind of ban had been struck down.

Conversion therapy[edit]

In June 2018, both houses of the Maine Legislature during the budget and veto sessions passed a bill to ban conversion therapy on minors, prior to adjourning sine die.[19][20][21][22][23] Then-Governor Paul LePage vetoed the bill on July 6, 2018, and in his veto message, stated that the bill was " '[a] threat to an individual’s religious liberty' " and added that " 'Parents have the right to seek counsel and treatment for their children from professionals who do not oppose the parents’ own religious beliefs. We should not prohibit professionals from providing their expertise to those who seek it for their own personal and basic questions such as, "How do I deal with these feelings I am experiencing" ' "?[24] On July 9, 2018, the Maine House of Representatives attempted to override the veto, but failed by a vote of 79-61.[25] [26][27][28][29]

On May 8, 2019, the Maine House of Representatives passed LD 1025, which would ban conversion therapy on minors, with a vote of 91–46. It later passed in the Maine Senate on May 21, 2019, by a vote of 25-9. Governor Janet Mills signed the legislation into law on May 29, 2019.[30][31] The new law is effective 90 days after the conclusion of the legislative session, and prohibits licensed health care providers from practicing conversion therapy on minors within the state.[32][33]

Summary of LGBT rights within Maine[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (since 1977)
Equal age of consent Yes (since 1977)
Anti-discrimination laws in all areas Yes (since 2005 for sexual orientation and gender identity)
Same-sex marriages Yes (since 2012)
Recognition of same-sex couples (e.g. domestic partnership) Yes (since 2005)
Joint and step-child/partial adoption by same-sex couples Yes
Right to change legal gender Yes (legally requires sexual reassignment surgery)[34]
Access to IVF for lesbians Yes
Gay and trans panic defence banned Yes
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
Conversion therapy banned on minors Yes (in 2019, 90 days after the end of the Maine Legislature session)[35]
Third gender option No (only on drivers licenses since 2019)[36]
MSMs allowed to donate blood Yes (1 year deferral; federal policy)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Maine Sodomy Law". 2007-03-09. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Maine Marriage/Relationship Recognition Law". 2009-11-04. Archived from the original on 2013-11-04. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
  4. ^ State of Maine: "Governor Signs LD 1020, An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom," May 6, 2009, accessed February 24, 2012
  5. ^ Boston Globe: Jenna Russell, "Gay marriage law signed in Maine, advances in N.H.," May 6, 2009, accessed February 24, 2012
  6. ^ Michael Falcone, "Maine vote repeals gay marriage law," November 4, 2009, accessed February 24, 2012
  7. ^ CNN: "Maine rejects same-sex marriage law," November 4, 2009, accessed February 24, 2012
  8. ^ Steve Mistler (January 26, 2012). "It's on: Same-sex marriage supporters give it another try". Lewiston Sun Journal.
  9. ^ Edith Honan (November 7, 2012). "Maryland, Maine, Washington approve gay marriage". Reutersl.
  10. ^ National Conference of State Legislatures: "States offering benefits for same-sex partners of state employees", accessed April 16, 2011
  11. ^ "Maine Adoption Law". 2009-12-09. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
  12. ^ "Maine Non-Discrimination Law". 2007-03-09. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
  13. ^ "Maine Hate Crimes Law". 2007-03-09. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
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  31. ^ "Mills Signs State 'Conversion Therapy' Ban". MPBN. 2019-05-29. Retrieved 2019-05-29.
  32. ^ [11]
  33. ^ [12]
  34. ^ [13]
  35. ^ [14]
  36. ^ [15]