Working for an ERA
to Maine's state constitution
In the absence of a federal Equal Rights Amendment, many states have chosen to add ERAs to their state constitutions in order to guarantee full equality for all citizens. Twenty-six states, in fact, have taken such action.
Maine has begun the process of amending its state constitution to protect all Mainers from sex discrimination. In the 2019-20 legislative session, LD433 was a “RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Explicitly Prohibit Discrimination Based on the Sex of an Individual.” On May 23rd, 2019 the Maine State Senate passed LD 433 with a resounding 2/3 majority! Key Republican Senators joined their Democratic colleagues to overcome years of delay in enacting this amendment. However, in the House, due to Republican opposition to equal rights for women and Covid, the bill did not go to a vote.
In 2019 Governor Janet Mills addressed the Judiciary Committee in support of the state ERA.
The 2021-22 Legislative Session now includes the same state ERA bill, sponsored again by the tireless Rep. Lois Reckitt. Its supporters continue to fight for the inclusion of women's legal rights in the Maine Constitution and the prohibition of sex discrimination for all Mainers.
The next stop for the amendment is back to the Judiciary Committee for a hearing. No date has been set.
Maine Human Rights Commission
The Maine Human Rights Commission covers
It does NOT cover
Violence Against Women
Incarceration of Women
The Maine Human Rights Commission is responsible for handling sex discrimination cases in Maine, according to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The MHRC has a mandate from the legislature to include certain areas of sex discrimination, but not all. Violence against Women claims, including sexual assault and domestic violence are not included; nor are the increasingly urgent issues of female incarceration, women's pensions, and insurance discrimination. A state ERA would broaden the mandate for the MHRC to more fully do its job.