AUGUSTA — The House, in an initial vote late Tuesday night, opposed a bill that would eliminate the ability of transgender people to sue for discrimination if they are denied use of their preferred restroom. Lawmakers voted 81-61 against LD 1046

In debate before the vote, Rep. Ken Fredette, R-Newport, the bill’s sponsor, said he is trying to provide more balance to the current law.

Fredette served on the Maine Human Rights Commission when it found unlawful discrimination in two cases concerning bathroom use. Both rulings led to lawsuits, though one case was resolved out of court.

“The process that has been working so far gives absolute rights to the transgenders and it gives no rights to the non-transgenders,” said Fredette. “I have worked hard to create a consensus around a very difficult issue.”

House Minority Leader Emily Cain, D-Orono, spoke against the measure.

“We do not need a consensus approach to human rights,” Cain said. “Passing this bill in any form would be a step backwards for Maine and would put an obstacle in front of many people across the state of Maine who are simply trying to go to work, go to school and participate like everyone else in our communities.”

Fredette said he’s sensitive to how his proposal would affect people but still thinks it is necessary.

The bill faces further votes in the Senate.