According to the Sun-Journal, the Maine Legislature rejected a bill to prevent transgender individuals from filing complaints against schools and public institutions for restricting access to bathrooms and locker rooms.
It was thumbs down in the House, 61-81, in a late Tuesday night vote that saw 15 Republicans break with the Democratic minority. On Wednesday, the Senate voted it down 11-23.
The bill had been prompted by a highly publicized case involving an Orono elementary school student.
The bill originally included a provision making it so transgender individuals could not sue private establishments, such as restaurants, for restricting access to public restrooms over privacy concerns.
That provision, stricken before Tuesday's floor debate, was based on a case involving Lewiston's Brianna Freeman, a transgender woman who was denied access to a restroom at a Denny's restaurant in Auburn, Maine.
Kenneth Fredette, the Republican sponsor of the bill, was all sour grapes:
I have the opinion that nobody in America has absolute rights on everything. We do not have an absolute right to free speech. We do not have an absolute right to carry a weapon. You can't do everything you want to do. And the process that has been working so far gives absolute rights to the transgenders and it gives no rights to the non-transgenders.
I suppose that all civil rights protections give "absolute power" to the disenfranchised in Mr. Fredette's view, and he doesn't want to give up any of his privileges to make the world a fairer place.
I think the story of this legislation demonstrates a number of interesting propositions. I find it particularly interesting that Maine, a state with a Republican Governor, a Republican statehouse and Republican U.S. Senators, would recognize that this bill was wrong. It shows that Democrats aren't the only ones who understand that discrimination is wrong.
It also shows that the backlash against extension of rights, a nearly universal phenomenon, isn't always successful.
Lastly, it shows that people are beginning to have some empathy for trans people. We aren't the monsters that we used to be in the mind of the public. This may spell the beginning of the end of the bathroom boogie man dodge that right-wing elements have used so successfully in the past.