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New law establishes neutral gender references in Maine statutes

On Wednesday, June 26, Governor Janet Mills signed a bill into law making gender references in Maine statutes neutral.
Credit: maine.gov
Gov. Mills signs law making references to certain offices gender neutral in Maine’s statutes.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Governor has signed a bill into law making gender references in Maine statues neutral.

The Governor, Chief Justice, and associate justices are currently referred to as "he", "him", or "his" in state statutes. A bill, sponsored by Rep. Matthew Moonen (D-Portland) and signed into law on Wednesday, June 26, changes this language to make it gender neutral.

RELATED: Governor and Chief Justice testify together to make statutes gender neutral

For example, a statute regarding the governor's term would get rid of masculine pronouns, reading instead:

"The Governor shall have his is entitled to reside in the Governor's official residence at Augusta during his the Governor's term of office, and shall keep his an office at the State House open for the transaction of the business of the State during all normal working hours of the State House." 

In April, Gov. Janet Mills and Chief Justice Leigh Saufley testified on behalf on this bill, saying that changing the language is more than a symbol -- it shows Maine females they are "equally deserving of the same opportunity (as males)", according to Mills.

"The statutes are based on outdated assumptions about who will serve in some of our state’s highest offices," said Moonen in a statement. "It is my hope that this change will direct the Revisor’s office to review the statutes for all places where it would be appropriate to make them gender neutral."

The decision comes a little before the 100-year anniversary of women's suffrage, which was ratified on August 18, 1920.