Upholding America's ideal of equality

By The Republican Journal Editorial Board | Jun 18, 2020

We were pleasantly surprised June 15, when the Supreme Court upheld a broad interpretation of the the Civil Rights Act of 1964, ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County that employers cannot fire employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity under Title VII of the act.

We received an additional pleasant surprise upon learning that, contrary to our expectation, the verdict was not 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts as the swing vote; there were six justices in the majority, with Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch writing for them. While we have disagreed with many of Justice Gorsuch's opinions in the past, we are heartened to find one to applaud.

While Maine, and Waldo County, have made great strides in the area of extending equal rights and protections to LGBTQ people, the existence of this suit is evidence that there is more to be done. In a press release responding to the announcement of the high court's verdict, EqualityMaine Executive Director Matt Moonen said, "This decision means that LGBT workers across the country can rest assured that their employment will be based on their qualifications, and not on biases about who they are.”

But he went on to warn, "This decision is significant, but it applies to employment only. Unfortunately, under federal law discrimination remains legal in areas such as housing, education, and public accommodations. Just last Friday, the Trump administration approved a rule removing health care protections for transgender people. ..."

And, as Maine people know too well, rights granted by law can be put in jeopardy at any time at the ballot box. As the EqualityMaine release pointed out, since 2005, when Maine voters upheld the law, passed by the Legislature and signed by then-Gov. John Baldacci, which prohibited discrimination in employment, housing, education, credit and public accommodations on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity, extremists like Michael Heath and the Christian Civic League have made multiple attempts to undermine it. Just as they forced multiple votes on whether the state would allow gay and lesbian Mainers to marry.

Our country has historically aspired to be a place that lives out the ideal that all people are created equal and are entitled to equal opportunity and equal protection under the law. At a moment when that aspiration is being tested almost to the breaking point, it gives us renewed hope to welcome this decision during Pride month. May it give all who are dedicated to America's democratic ideal of equality fresh energy to push toward making it a reality.

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This day in history

On June 16, 1884, the first roller coaster in America opens at Coney Island, in Brooklyn, New York. Known as a switchback railway, it was the brainchild of LaMarcus Thompson, traveled approximately 6 miles per hour and cost a nickel to ride. The new entertainment was an instant success and by the turn of the century there were hundreds of roller coasters around the country.

Coney Island, a name believed to have come from the Dutch Konijn Eilandt, or Rabbit Island, is a tract of land along the Atlantic Ocean discovered by explorer Henry Hudson in 1609. The first hotel opened at Coney Island in 1829 and by the post-Civil War years, the area was an established resort with theaters, restaurants and a race track. Coney Island is still home to the Cyclone, a wooden coaster that made its debut in 1927. Capable of speeds of 60 mph and with an 85-foot drop, the Cyclone is one of the country’s oldest coasters in operation today.

Roller coasters and amusement parks experienced a decline during the Great Depression and World War II, when Americans had less cash to spend on entertainment. Finally, in 1955, the opening of Disneyland in Anaheim, California, signaled the advent of the modern theme park and a rebirth of the roller coaster. Disneyland’s success sparked a wave of new parks and coasters. By the 1970s, parks were competing to create the most thrilling rides.

Source: History.com

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