The Maine Republican Party has adopted amendments to their official party platform indicating their support for anti-LGBTQ legislation — continuing the trend of GOP politicians seizing on a culture-war issue they believe will work to their benefit ahead of this year’s midterm elections.
At a raucous and occasionally unruly convention in Augusta on April 29, the party adopted amendments ranging from calling for schools to prohibit “sexual-based material” in schools through 12th grade to proposed bans on “critical race theory” being taught in the classroom.
We can’t trap our children in classrooms and force radical ideology on them,” Elizabeth Caruso, a Republican candidate for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, said in a speech. “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.”
Though lawmakers appeared to signal their intent to center their efforts on pushing potentially divisive legislation, it is unclear how the adopted amendments will impact how the Maine GOP operates. Passions amongst the delegates in attendance were inflamed, making discussion on whatever topic was being addressed at the time difficult to follow. This confusion resulted in amendments passing with delegates “disagreeing on what they had just done,” reports the Portland Press-Herald,
Jason Savage, a spokesman for the Maine Republican Party, told the Press-Herald that the intensity of the debate over amendments during the convention merely shows that people “are passionate about the fall elections.”
While none of the amendments were binding, by voting to prioritize certain issues in their platform, Republicans were effectively rubber-stamping a commitment to push for legislation pushing back against so-called “wokeness” as well as LGBTQ visibility. Convention delegates also shot down an attempt to remove the party’s definition of marriage as being a union between only one woman and one man — perhaps signaling their continued opposition to same-sex nuptials.
Supporters of removing the definition argued that opposition to gay marriage isn’t as popular within the Republican Party as it once was, claiming that appealing to a “wider audience” would benefit Republicans, and that having a “welcoming attitude” is within the party’s “Christian values.” One such delegate, Dean Martin, of Hallowell, said: “Republicans are great defenders of freedom and personal liberty, so let’s stop encouraging divisive language in the platform that no longer reflects the actual law or majority opinion of our own party.”
But such arguments did not sway the majority of Republican delegates, who chose instead to strictly adhere to the party line of what constitutes so-called “traditional” marriage.
“We receive our rights in the constitution from God,” Delegate Alicia Collins said. “We are conservative because we believe in our Christian values. If we take the [marriage] definition out, then I believe we are dishonoring God.”
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