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Lawmakers nix bill to put anti-discrimination amendment in front of Maine voters

Maine Legislature
Robert F. Bukaty
AP file
The Maine State House dome is seen at dawn, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Augusta, Maine.

A proposed equal rights amendment picked up majority support in the state Senate on Wednesday but fell short of the margin needed for a statewide vote.

The proposal would ask Maine voters whether they support amending the state constitution to explicitly prohibit sex-based discrimination. State laws already prohibit discrimination in employment, housing and other circumstances. But supporters say an equal rights amendment is necessary to cover other areas and to enshrine protections for women in Maine's Constitution.

But Republican opponents call the proposed amendment unnecessary while suggesting it could open the door to unintended consequences. The Senate voted 22-12 to advance the proposal, shy of the two-thirds majority necessary to send the issue to voters. The bill also failed to receive two-thirds support in the House last week.