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The Maine Human Rights Act was established in 1971 and originally protected only race or color, sexual, physical or mental handicap, religion, ancestry or national origin, or age. In 1977, legislation was introduced to add an additional protection for sexual orientation based discrimination. It took over 28 years to successfully include sexual orientation as a protected class because of failed votes in the legislature, a governor’s veto, and many variations of the people’s veto. Since the inclusion, the judicial and executive branch have worked to clarify and enforce the statute. This clarification can be seen in the field of education in two important cases on perceived sexual orientation harassment and on discrimination against a transgender girl. The important and necessary collaboration between the Maine’s legislative, executive, and judicial branches help all of the Maine better understand their rights and responsibilities as or towards the newly protected class.

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