Congressional Candidate Questionnaire 2006

Contact Information:

Name: Jean Hay Bright
Party: Democratic Party

Address: 4262 Kennebec Rd.
Town: Dixmont, ME 04932

Phone: 207-234-4224
Occupation: writer/commercial organic farmer

Deadline for returning questionnaire is September 8, 2006

About EqualityMaine

Founded in 1984 after the tragic death of Charlie Howard, a 23-year-old gay man from Bangor who was chased down and thrown off a bridge, EqualityMaine has worked for over two decades to promote full equality for all Mainers. We envision a Maine where lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons and their families have full equality in the hearts and minds of Maine people and in all areas of the law.

Previous Public Service Experience
Previous Congressional Experience:
(If any, please list terms and office)
  • Legislative Assistant to Rep. Thomas Andrews (D-Maine), 1993
  • Candidate for United States House of Representatives, Democratic Primary, 1994
  • Candidate for U.S. Senate, Democratic Primary, 1996
Previous Elected Office/Leadership Experience:
(If any, please list terms and office)

The following questions seek to measure your support for a variety of public policy issues important to Maine's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Should you require additional information in order to answer a question, please indicate accordingly. Failure to answer questions or to return this survey will be presumed to indicate your lack of support for the issue(s). Your responses will be used by EqualityMaine's Political Action Committee to determine which candidates receive our endorsement in the 2006 General Election.


Qualified, hardworking Americans who live in states without a non-discrimination law are denied job opportunities, fired or otherwise discriminated against for reasons that have nothing to do with their performance and abilities. Employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, whether such orientation is real or perceived, effectively denies qualified individuals equality and opportunity in the workplace. Those who experience this form of discrimination have no recourse under current federal law or under the Constitution as it has been interpreted by the courts.

  1. As a member of Congress, would you support federal legislation that would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and expression?

    __X__YES     _____NO     _____Undecided

  2. Would you agree to co-sponsor such non-discrimination legislation?

    __X__YES     _____NO     _____Undecided

  3. Would you support HR 3128, a bill that affirms that Federal employees are protected from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and that Congress will repudiate any assertion to the contrary?

    __X__YES     _____NO     _____Undecided

The Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act (H.R. 475) would amend the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 to permit leave to care for a domestic partner, same-sex married partner, parent-in-law, adult child, sibling or grandparent if the domestic partner, same-sex married partner, parent-in-law, adult child, sibling or grandparent has a serious health condition. Many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals are in committed, long-term relationships and are financially interdependent with their life partners. Yet too many LGBT people simply cannot take advantage of FMLA because their life partners are not recognized under federal law. The result is that many LGBT people are unable to take time off from work in family emergencies for fear of losing their jobs. This lack of guaranteed leave places both the employee and their partner at increased risk for stress, financial hardship and job loss.

  1. Would you support HR 475, the Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act?

    __X__YES     _____NO     _____Undecided

Under federal law, legally married employees do not pay taxes on their employers' contribution for health insurance benefits, but lesbian and gay employees do. Those who cannot afford the extra taxes are often forced to do without health coverage for their loved ones. In addition, because employers must pay payroll taxes on their employees' taxable incomes, employers who provide these benefits are taxed at a higher rate as well. The Domestic Partner Health Benefits Equity Act (S.R. 1360) is a bill that would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to end the taxation of health insurance benefits for domestic partners and treat them the same as health benefits for legal spouses and dependents.

  1. Would you support SR 1360, the Domestic Partner Health Benefits Equity Act?

    __X__YES     _____NO     _____Undecided
    Comment: I support national health care. If we had it in this country this would not be an issue because there would be no employer-paid insurance premiums tied to individual employees.

Currently, federal benefits favor married workers while unmarried workers with committed partners are left without coverage for their family and loved ones. Denial of health and other benefits to life partners of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees is a significant form of employment discrimination against LGBT people. Because benefits constitute nearly 40 percent of the cost of an employee, an LGBT person who is denied benefits for his or her life partner is essentially being paid less than a heterosexual person who receives benefits for his or her spouse. The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act (H.R. 3267), would grant same- and opposite-sex domestic partners of federal employees the benefits currently only available to legal spouses of federal employees. The bill would bring employment practices in the federal government in line with those of America's largest and most successful corporations.

  1. Would you support HR 3267, the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act?

    __X__YES     _____NO     _____Undecided

Loving, committed gay and lesbian couples, some together for decades, some raising children, must work very hard to keep their relationships and their families safe, together and secure. Non-gay couples can accomplish both legal safety and social respect with one simple but profound act - getting married. Gay and lesbian couples cannot. In 1996, Congress passed the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA), which gave states the right to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and created a federal definition of marriage as "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife." When we exclude gay and lesbian couples from marriage, we mark them and their families as unworthy. We also deny them hundreds of legal protections established by the state and federal government.

  1. Would you oppose efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution to deny marriage to same-sex couples, an act that would write discrimination into the Constitution?

    __X__YES     _____NO     _____Undecided
    Comment: For my policy statement on this issue, see
  2. Would you oppose efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution to deny same-sex couples access to rights associated with marriage?

    __X__YES     _____NO     _____Undecided

Current federal hate crime law, passed by Congress is 1968, allows federal investigation and prosecution of hate crimes based on race, religion, and national origin. It does not include sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability.

H.R. 2662, the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act (LLEEA), would expand federal jurisdiction to reach serious, violent hate crimes. The measure covers hate crimes based on "the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender or disability" of the victim. Under the bill, hate crimes that cause death or bodily injury or that are committed with a firearm or explosive device could be investigated by federal law enforcement authorities, regardless of whether the victim was exercising a federally protected right-unlike current law. H.R. 2662 is the revised version of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act and although substantially similar, there are a few provisions that differ from the original bill. Two sections were added to the language: one providing support for criminal investigations and prosecutions by state and local law enforcement officials, and another adding "gender" to the Hate Crimes Statistics Act.

  1. Would you vote for HR 2662, the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act?

    __X__YES     _____NO     _____Undecided

  2. Would you agree to co-sponsor such hate crimes legislation?

    __X__YES     _____NO     _____Undecided

Under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents may sponsor their spouses (and other immediate family members) for immigration purposes. But same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and permanent residents are not considered "spouses" and their partners cannot sponsor them for family-based immigration. Consequently, many same-sex binational couples are kept apart or torn apart. And since immigration is regulated on a federal level, even binational couples who have entered into marriages, civil unions or other legally recognized relationships in their home states still cannot sponsor their spouses for immigration purposes. The Uniting American Families Act (H.R. 3006, S.R. 1278) would help to remedy this injustice by legislating that binational same-sex couples meet the same requirements as binational, married couples. Some requirements include providing proof of the relationship - including affidavits from friends and family or evidence of financial support.

  1. Would you support SR 1278/HR 3006, the Uniting American Families Act?

    __X__YES     _____NO     _____Undecided

  2. Would you agree to co-sponsor such immigration legislation?

    __X__YES     _____NO     _____Undecided

Given the current needs of the our armed forces, which are already stretched thin and are facing serious problems in recruiting and retaining troops, it makes no sense for our federal government to continue upholding a policy that keeps gay and lesbian Americans from serving. The purpose of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1059) is to repeal the U.S. military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy so that lesbian, gay and bisexual troops would be allowed to serve openly in the military. The bill is much more than a non-discrimination bill. It is a bill that would protect national security and strengthen our military, while saving taxpayers and our armed forces millions of dollars and countless man hours that could be put to better use.

  1. Would you vote for HR 1059, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act?

    __X__YES     _____NO     _____Undecided

  2. Would you agree to co-sponsor such legislation?

    __X__YES     _____NO     _____Undecided
    Comment: This has been a long-standing issue for me. Here is the letter to the editor that I wrote in 1993, titled Blackmail and Gays in the Military, that appeared in the Bangor Daily News:

The Responsible Education About Life Act (H.R. 2553, S.R. 368) would create a grant program administered by the federal Department of Health and Human Services that would award $206 million per year to states for comprehensive sexuality education. While there are three separate federal funding streams dedicated to abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, no federal funding currently exists specifically for comprehensive sexuality education. Currently, states can only receive federal funding for sexuality education if they agree to teach abstinence only until marriage, which routinely excludes critical information about the health benefits of contraception to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Since lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals are barred from marriage in every state except Massachusetts, abstinence-only-until-marriage programs completely ignore LGBT youth, the realities of their lives and their critical health information needs. The REAL Act permits states to receive federal funding without having to promise to teach an exclusive abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculum.

  1. Would you vote for SR 368/HR 2553, the Responsible Education About Life Act?

    __X__YES     _____NO     _____Undecided

  2. As a member of Congress, what public policy priorities will you set for yourself to help advance the goal of full equality for America's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens?
    Over the past 25 years, as a columnist and as a political candidate, I have been outspoken on the issue of equality for all people, including America's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens. My stance it that it is not a matter of tolerance, it is a matter of acceptance, inclusion, recognition, as a society, and as codified into law.

    The areas of law covered in this survey are all legitimate, from the military to sex education to hate crimes to marriage and family issues. Sorry, but I won't prioritize them - they all need my attention.