Letters submitted by BDN readers are verified by BDN Opinion Page staff. Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transgender Mainers deserve respect
OUT Maine congratulates the BDN on its March 19 editorial. We oppose LD 926, a bill seeking to block transgender girls from participating in school sports. School sports programs are important for all students. They teach the skills needed to succeed and contribute to the community throughout all students’ lives. These essential life skills — communication, teamwork, self-discipline, leadership and confidence — are critical for all students.
Transgender students in Maine are already more likely to experience physical, emotional and sexual violence compared to our cisgender students. We need to do a better job protecting their rights rather than politicizing and further marginalizing them. As the editorial so cogently notes, transgender people are simply people trying to live their lives. They should not have to deny who they are.
We do not need this bill in Maine. For the last eight years, Maine educators and school sports administrators have had policies in place to take into account any concerns about fairness with regard to transgender students. In 2014, the state Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the right to equal educational access for transgender girls in schools. Both the U.S. Constitution and Title IX prohibit this kind of proposed discrimination. Here in Maine, we celebrate girls’ and women’s sports and inclusion for all girls.
Let’s stop the political posturing around transgender people. They are fellow Mainers who deserve respect and the support to be who they are.
Don’t steamroll the legislative minority
I got elected to the state Senate in 2010 and was looking for advice on how to be effective. I invited previous senators — Republicans, Democrats and an independent — who had held that position to have dinner with me. It was quite an evening. We talked for three hours non-stop about being in the Legislature. The conversations ran from roads and bridges to fisheries to what it was like for women in the Legislature.
I had one request of the senators; to give advice on how to be an effective senator. They all said the very same thing in one way or another; vote in a way that allows you to sleep at night. One of them, a Democrat, told me his biggest regret was not standing up to his party when he knew they were wrong including voting for a majority budget.
History has a way of repeating itself and we now see that the biennial budget is being brought to a majority vote this week to avoid the need for a two-thirds vote to approve later in the session. This bypasses any input by the minority party. It is really easy to use the pandemic as the reason to pass a majority budget, but the damage done by steamrolling over the minority is far greater than the damage done by the pandemic.
I took the advice of my predecessors. I hope that my representatives in the Legislature will heed that sage advice and vote against a majority budget.
Open primaries to unenrolled voters
I am pleased that the Maine Legislature has the opportunity this year to enact a law that will permit unenrolled voters the right to vote in a primary election. Pending before the Maine Legislature is LD 231, An Act To Establish Open Primaries.
As a registered Republican I have the right to vote in a primary. However, approximately a third of Mainers are unenrolled and do not have the right to participate in the primary election process. While I appreciate that these individuals could enroll in a party, they have chosen not to do so. I believe that enrolling in a party, or choosing not to enroll in a party, is a significant personal decision. These voters have done nothing wrong by choosing not to register with a party. Maine law permits them to do this. Unfortunately for them, if they register as unenrolled, the door to voting in primaries is closed to them. Even though they pay taxes, which are used to run the primary elections, they can’t vote.
The proposed law would make Maine a “semi open” primary state. This law would not permit those registered with a party to vote in the other party’s primary. It only permits unenrolled voters the right to vote in a primary. A healthy political process requires voters to exercise their right to vote. Opening the door to our primaries to unenrolled voters would keep all voters engaged throughout the election process — not just in November.