BANGOR, Maine — EqualityMaine will recognize the Bangor City Council with an award for its efforts in support of marriage equality and anti-discrimination legislation spanning more than a decade during its second Community Awards Banquet.
The Community Partnership Award is meant to honor “businesses, groups and leaders who open their doors, lend their names and offer outstanding support to the cause of equality in Maine,” according to the organization, Maine’s oldest and largest gay rights advocacy group.
“The Bangor City Council has been a steadfast supporter of the LGBT community and has provided a great example for cities and towns around the state,” EqualityMaine Executive Director Elise Johansen said in a recent email. “The Bangor City Council has made it clear that this is a community that values all families and that’s something worth celebrating and recognizing.”
EqualityMaine cites three major highlights during the past 15 years as the reason for its decision:
In 2001, a year after a statewide anti-discrimination referendum was defeated, Bangor Councilor Joe Baldacci and then-Councilor Judy Vardamis spearheaded the passage of a local ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in the areas of housing, employment, education, credit applications and public accommodations. A few months later, a citizen-led effort to repeal the policy failed to gain enough signatures to appear as a ballot question.
In 2012, the city opened the doors of city hall at 6 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 29, to allow same-sex couples to marry on the day it became legal in Maine. Several local notaries, including Baldacci, volunteered their services.
Last year, the Bangor council became the first and only city in the state to sign on in support of an amicus brief calling for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013.
The banquet is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 12, at the Cross Insurance Center. Tickets and more information are available at EqualityMaine.org.