Democratic leaders gathered at Deering Oaks in Portland on Monday to tout Governor Janet Mills’ record on LGBT issues and cast her opponent, Paul LePage, as a threat to gay, lesbian and transgender people.
“Wherever the GOP has control, it targets the LGBTQ+ community,” party Vice Chairman Bev Uhlenhake said at the event marking Pride Month. “The Maine GOP is gearing up to do the same right here in Pine Tree State as it rallies to re-elect our virulently anti-LGBTQ+ former governor.”
Party members explained how Mills handled a state-funded Pride Month video for kindergartners that was singled out in a Republican attack ad last month. The Department of Education removed the video from its website and Mills called the lesson inappropriate, but has not yet said why.
While LGBT groups see Mills as an ally, some young transgender people are concerned about her reaction to the video, wondering if it’s the subject matter, the lesson details or the age of the intended audience she found objectionable, according to MaineTrans.Net.
“It’s amazing how many additional resources are available for students, teachers and parents to support LGBT youth, especially in schools,” said Gia Drew, executive director of Equality Maine. “But we know there is more to do.”
Classroom resources and lessons need to be vetted by stakeholders, such as LGBT people, so educators can be sure they’re teaching students accurate information about this topic, Drew said. Some advocates didn’t like the way the now-deleted Pride Month video explained gender diversity.
Party leaders and LGBT advocates at Monday’s small event said they didn’t want to continue talking about the lesson of Pride Month because it would only fan the flames of a hateful campaign aimed at weaponizing transgender youth and demonizing Governor Mills.
“I have no interest in giving this ammunition to the opposition,” Drew said.
But Republican spokesman Jason Savage said his party doesn’t care if someone is straight or gay.
“We believe everyone should be treated equally and have the same opportunities in the American economy and under the law,” Savage said. “And every person in every category we just listed is hurt by the absolute failure of Janet Mills and Joe Biden.”
The statement comes after the state’s GOP introduced an overhaul to the party’s platform in the convention hall that would make teaching about gender diversity in public schools a form of child abuse. It also comes a month after Republicans made the school’s Pride Month video the focus of its first ad attacking the 2022 gubernatorial election.
Maine Democrats and a handful of LGBT people said Monday, days before Portland’s biggest Pride event, that the candidates’ backgrounds clearly show which candidate, LePage or Mills, is a true advocate for sexual and gender diversity. .
They pointed to LePage’s 2018 veto of a bill that would have banned conversion therapy in Maine. In his letter of veto, LePage said “parents have the right to seek advice and treatment for their children from professionals who do not oppose the parents’ own religious beliefs.”
In 2019, a year after taking office, Mills signed a similar bill into law. Maine is now one of 20 states that prohibit licensed professionals from administering conversion therapy to minors. Alabama, Georgia and Florida have gone to court to prevent enforcement of their legislative prohibitions.
“Conversion therapy is a harmful and widely discredited practice that has no place in Maine,” Mills said in 2019. “We send an unequivocal message to LGBTQ youth in Maine and across the country: We are by your side, we support you, and we will always defend your right to be who you are.
The ban on gay conversion therapy is the biggest, but not the only, LGBT protection won during Mills’ first term, said Rep. Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, who sponsored the therapy ban. conversion and is the first openly gay speaker in the state. Accommodation.
For the past four years, Maine has banned insurers from discriminating against transgender policyholders, reinstated benefits for veterans discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and allowed children as young as than 14 years old to request a legal name change without parental consent.
With Mills’ support, Maine eliminated old regulations that required people, including those who are transgender, to post a legal notice when changing their name, simplified the process of changing sex on a birth certificate, and added X as a gender-neutral marker, says Fecteau.
For the past four years, Maine has thwarted legislative efforts to ban transgender girls from playing school sports and transgender women from receiving services at homeless women’s shelters, and banned so-called defense of “gay panic” as a legal defense, Fecteau said.
“At a time when states like Florida are passing ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation, here in Maine we’re going to keep saying gay,” Fecteau said. “Gays exist. Gays are our neighbors. Homosexuals are our friends and our family. And homosexuals are our parents, our teachers and our students.
“And the Speaker of the House? Fecteau added, holding a pride flag in his hand. “This guy is gay too.”
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