Some say that the way Maine votes is the way the nation goes. Whether this is totally accurate or not, Maine is a state that shows its leadership and independent nature in many ways.
In recent years, residents have had a governor who was an Independent, and currently both U.S. Congressmen are Democrats and men, while both U.S. senators are Republicans and women.
The independence of Maine voters does not end there but carries over to the State Legislature, which has in many cases taken the lead over its Federal counterpart.
Witness the recent passage of a joint resolution (H.P. 1592) expressing support for the Human Rights Torch Relay and declaring April 2008 as Human Rights Torch Relay Month.
The resolution has strong words to say about China's communist regime and whether it should have the honor of hosting the 2008 Olympics because of its continual denial of basic human rights and perpetration of other injustices.
Introduced by Rep. Rick Burns from Berwick, the Human Rights Torch Relay (HRTR) Resolution was suggested to Burns by North Berwick resident Marcus Gale.
Upon hearing of the situation surrounding the Olympics and China's promise to clean up its human right abuses and learning that the abuses have increased, Burns took the lead and brought the matter to the Legislature in the form of a resolution.
"The fact that American industry continues to flee our country to conduct business in China compounds the problem of Americans participating in Olympic events there," said Burns in a press release.
"The U.S. Government typically divests economically from nations that engage in such human rights violations. However, in the case of China, not only do we participate in the Olympic Games there but we continue to divest from America in favor of investment in China."
The full text of the Maine resolution can be read online at www.humanrightstorchusa.org, the New England Web site for the Human Rights Torch Relay.
Mr. Gale, a well-known performing artist from Maine, is the state's coordinator for HRTR. "There has been the most amazing, positive response to this campaign. Everyone wants to join in and help," he said.
The HRTR started in August 2007 in Greece and is traveling to 37 countries and through 150 cities. Concerned individuals, church leaders, government officials, civic and professional groups, as well as non-profit organizations that are committed to universal human rights support it.
The Human Right Torch will arrive in Portland, Maine, on Saturday, April 19th. A torch walk from Congress Square will end with a rally at City Hall Plaza at 1:00 p.m. There will be speakers from Maine representing groups persecuted in China by the Chinese regime, such as Tibetans, Christians, Falun Gong, Uyghur Muslims, Darfur refugees, Burmese, AIDS victims, human rights lawyers, journalists, and democracy advocates.
Although the first HRTR event will be held in Boston on March 30, the first state to show its support goes to Maine. Gale believes "other states will follow Maine's lead once the people learn the truth about the Olympics and what is going on in China."