Governor Paul LePage is part of a group of leaders who are questioning whether the Civil Rights Act covers sexual orientation.

At issue is whether companies can fire their employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Governor LePage has joined a group of 15 other Republican leaders from across the nation who are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court decision against a funeral home in Michigan. The business owners were sued after firing an employee when it was discovered that the employee is transgender.

The brief was filed on August 23rd and lists Maine's governor among petitioners representing states including Alabama, Louisiana, West Virginia, and Texas. It argues that the 1964 Civil Rights Act was intended to prevent discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity, and asks the Supreme Court to rule that companies can fire workers based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, without violating federal workplace discrimination law.

According to the Portland Press Herald, the governor's intentions are not as divisive as they seem on the surface. A spokesman says Maine already has laws that protect against this kind of discrimination and the governor's only concern, in this case, is to not allow federal 'activist' judges to rewrite existing laws. Peter Steele says LePage's support of the initiative is not meant as an attack on the LGBT community, but rather an effort to protect the government's established system of checks and balances. He says the concern focuses on the way the protection was granted, and not the protection itself.

Still, Democratic leaders and employment experts say it will cast Maine in a bad light and make the state less appealing to new businesses.

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