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Transgender Rights | Public Accommodations | Maine

Maine Public Accommodations Q&A

What is a place of public accommodation?

A place of public accommodation means a facility operated by a private or public entity whose operations fall into categories such as lodging, restaurants, entertainment, public gathering, retail stores, service establishments, transportation, museums, libraries, recreation facilities, exercise or health facilities, schools and educational institutions, social service establishments, or government buildings. Generally, any establishment that caters to, or offers its goods, facilities or services to, or solicits or accepts patronage from the general public is a place of public accommodation (5 Me. Rev. Stat. sec. 4553 (8) (definition of “public accommodation”)).

Does Maine have an anti-discrimination law protecting transgender individuals from discrimination in places of public accommodation?

Yes. On November 8, 2005, Maine voters agreed to keep in place a law, LD 1196, “An Act to Extend Civil Rights Protections to All People Regardless of Sexual Orientation”, passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor in the spring of 2005. The law went into effect December 28, 2005.

This marks the end of a long struggle in Maine to achieve legal protections for LGBT people. In November 1995, Maine voters rejected an attempt to limit the protected classes to those already included within the non-discrimination law. In May 1997, Maine approved an anti-discrimination law based on sexual orientation, but this law was repealed in a special election in February 1998. Then in November 2000, by the smallest of margins, Maine voters failed to ratify a second anti-discrimination law that had been approved by the legislature.

The law provides protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation which is defined as “… a person’s actual or perceived heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality or gender identity or expression” (5 Me. Rev. Stat. sec. 4553 (9-C)).

Does it also protect people perceived of as transgender in places of public accommodation?

Yes. The non-discrimination law specifically covers people who are perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

What does the law say about discrimination in places of public accommodation?

The law makes it illegal for places of public accommodation to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or “… in any manner withhold from or deny the full and equal enjoyment … of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, services or privileges of public accommodation.”  The law also makes it illegal to advertise that any place of public accommodation is restricted to people of a particular sexual orientation (5 Me. Rev. Stat. sec. 4592 (1)).