The clock on Michael Heath’s petition drive to remove protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation from the Maine Human Rights Act begins today.

Heath and the secretary of state’s office said Heath is scheduled to pick up his petition paperwork this afternoon and receive instructions about how to collect petitions, which is a critical milestone in a process that could lead to a statewide referendum. Heath has 18 months from today to collect at least 61,123 signatures from verified Maine voters. Asked Thursday what the reaction has been since his effort became publicly known earlier this month, Heath had little to say.

“I think it’s too early to really comment on it,” said Heath, who is the former director of the Christian Civic League of Maine and longtime opponent of protections based on sexual orientation. “Very few people know about it right now.”

The language for the citizen-initiated bill has already been approved. It would delete the words “sexual orientation” throughout the Maine Human Rights Act. Discrimination based on sexual orientation has been illegal in Maine since 2005, when Maine voters rejected a people’s veto attempt to prevent the inclusion of sexual orientation as a protected class.

Heath has said he will use both volunteer and paid signature gatherers. He said he has “no current plans” to collect signatures at the Maine Republican Convention, which begins Friday in Bangor.


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