Maine’s entire delegation to Congress has policy to protect LGBT staffers

Maine's U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, a Republican, and Angus King, an independent. BDN file photo by Gabor Degre.

Maine’s U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, a Republican, and Angus King, an independent. BDN file photo by Gabor Degre.

Members of Congress can still fire staffers for being gay or trans.

That’s because there’s no federal law protecting LGBT people from workplace discrimination, as pointed out by the Huffington Post, which on Friday posted a running list of which Senators and Representatives have established their own internal policies to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

While D.C. may not provide workplace discrimination protection for LGBT workers, many states do. Maine’s anti-discrimination law was expanded in 2005 to protect from discrimination all workers regardless of their “actual or perceived heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality or gender identity or expression.”

Among Maine’s congressional delegation, independent U.S. Sens. Angus King, Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, were all listed as having established protection for LGBT staffers and applicants.

Maine's U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, and Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District. BDN file photos  by Troy R. Bennett and Gabor Degre.

Maine’s U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, and Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District. BDN file photos by Troy R. Bennett and Gabor Degre.

A spokesman for Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin, who was sworn into office in January, said the freshman lawmaker’s office policies were still being established. Poliquin doesn’t have an employee manual yet, but the spokesman, Michael Byerly, said LGBT protections “will be included when it’s done.”

“In our office people are judged on their honesty and work ethic,” he said in an email.

HuffPo was still working to find out the status of LGBT protection in many lawmakers’ offices. By 4 p.m., the list of those who include LGBT people in their anti-discrimination policies included 29 senators, of which Collins was one of just two Republicans, along with Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, and 74 representatives.

Another one senator and three representatives had polices to protect employees based on sexual orientation, but not gender identity, while one senator and two representatives did not have protections for LGBT staffers.

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.