Election 2024

Maine Republicans can’t stop obsessing about same-sex marriage. It’s even in their platform again.

Protestor holding sign that says "Only love can drive out hate."
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The Maine Republican Party has voted to adopt a platform that supports bans on abortion and sex education.

1800 delegates met in Augusta last week for the two-day state GOP convention and voted on adopting the new platform. The delegates were enraged because they believe “morals and family values have been stripped away from schools and been replaced by identity politics and kiddie porn,” as delegate Shawn McBreairty put it.

Related: Ryan Fecteau will be Maine’s first out Speaker of the House. He’s got a record of breaking barriers.

The previous version of the Maine Republican Party platform included a plank that said marriage is “the union of one man and one woman.” Someone proposed an amendment to remove it, but that amendment didn’t pass.

“We receive our rights in the Constitution from God,” said delegate Alicia Collins during the debate, defending the call to ban marriage equality. “We are conservative because we believe in our Christian values. If we take the definition out, then I believe we are dishonoring God.”

Lewis Corvo, another delegate, was more accusatory: “This is a progressive mindset trying to infiltrate our party.”

Some Maine Republicans spoke out in favor of getting rid of the call to end marriage equality, like Mark Andre, who is running for the state senate.

“To hang this party’s hat on issues opposing gay marriage, things that have already been resolved, you are making my life as a candidate so difficult,” he said.

Marriage equality is popular in Maine, with the state voting to legalize it during a ballot initiative in 2012, years before the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality in all 50 states.

That amendment failed, and the delegates moved on to a plank sponsored by delegate Matt Martin to call for a ban on sex education before the fourth grade, as well as a call to ban gender-affirming care for transgender people, even though such care can be lifesaving. Martin called it “child abuse.”

“I wanted our children to be taught math and science and English in school and not be hyper-sexualized,” he said. “Saving our children. It’s plain and simple. It’s not up to the school to parent. It’s up to parents to parent.”

Elizabeth Caruso, who is running in the Republican primary for Maine’s 2nd district, said that the party must protect children from “pornographic sex training.”

“We can’t trap our children in classrooms and force radical ideology on them,” Caruso told the audience at the convention. “The attack on our children’s physical, emotional, mental and scholastic development must end. It’s abuse. Republican lawmakers must fight this battle and win.”

The convention liked Martin’s amendment so much they expanded it; now the Maine Republican Party opposes sex education all the way up to 12th grade. The Press-Herald reports that some delegates were worried that the platform effectively includes learning high school biology.

Planned Parenthood of New England denounced the platform.

“Sex education works,” a spokesperson said, noting that students in Maine learn about puberty, healthy relationship, and contraceptives. “It gives young people the knowledge and skills they need for a lifetime of good health and happiness.”

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