Maine Gov. Paul LePage has joined 15 other states in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that companies can fire workers based on their sexual orientation and gender identity without violating federal workplace discrimination law.

In an Aug. 23 amicus curiae – or friend of the court – brief filed with the Supreme Court, LePage is listed as one of 16 petitioners, who include 13 Republican attorneys general and two other Republican governors.

According to court records, the brief was filed by Attorney General Douglas J. Peterson and Chief Deputy Attorney General David Bydalek, both of Nebraska. They ask the Supreme Court to overturn a 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision against a Michigan funeral home that fired a transgender worker. In that case, the worker had informed a supervisor that the worker was transitioning to becoming a woman.

Peterson and Bydalek called on the court to “grant the petition and hear this case of national importance.”

They argued that Congress did not intend for the ban on sex discrimination in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to cover bias against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender employees. That law, they claim, was intended to prevent discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity.

Laws in 20 states, including Maine, ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

LePage was joined in the brief by the governors of Kentucky and Mississippi. The other states included in the filing were Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The Maine Democratic Party issued a statement Monday evening sharply criticizing LePage for participating in the filing.

“After refusing to protect LGBTQ youth in Maine from conversion therapy, Governor LePage has turned his efforts toward making sure businesses can fire workers based on their sexual orientation and gender identity,” said the party’s chairman, Phil Bartlett.

“Workplace discrimination laws are in place to ensure that all employees, regardless of their gender, race or sexual orientation, are treated with basic human dignity and fairness,” Bartlettt said. “By working to exclude LGBTQ Mainers from these protections, Governor LePage has once again shown that he does not stand with Mainers who are overwhelmingly in favor of upholding these basic standards of decency.”

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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