AUGUSTA — After a liberal blogger published a slew of incendiary comments attributed to Rep. Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst, the state’s Democratic Party has called for the lawmaker’s resignation.
Lockman, a first-term legislator who serves on the Labor Committee, “holds some of the most abhorrent beliefs ever heard from a public official in Maine,” said state Democratic chairman Ben Grant in a news release.
“Lockman’s long-standing history on remarks that glorify rape, demean people living with HIV/AIDS and viciously attack the LGBT community are indefensible. For that reason, the Maine Democratic Party is calling on Rep. Lockman to resign immediately,” Grant said. The chairman also called on Republican Gov. Paul LePage and GOP lawmakers to condemn Lockman and ask him to resign.
“We stand with Mainers who have zero tolerance for this type of offensive behavior and we need to know that Gov. LePage and GOP leaders won’t tolerate these kinds of beliefs within their party,” he said. “Maine people need to know that while leaders in Augusta have many differences of opinion, there is at least a bipartisan consensus that Mr. Lockman’s hateful speech has no place in the State House.”
The party’s call was prompted by a post from liberal blogger and Maine People’s Alliance communications director Mike Tipping, who dug into Lockman’s history.
Tipping scoured Google’s newspaper archives and LexisNexis, another online archiving service, to dig into Lockman’s past. He found several stories about Lockman’s early ’80s legal quest against the federal government to prove that he was not required to pay income tax, which Lockman ultimately lost.
But the portion of Tipping’s post that created a buzz Tuesday involved several statements from before the representative’s time in the Legislature, in which Lockman made inflammatory remarks about gay rights activists, abortion and AIDS.
A few examples:
— In 1987, the Sun Journal published a letter by Lockman in which he said the AIDS epidemic was not caused by a lack of information to at-risk populations, but rather because “progressive, enlightened, tolerant people in politics and in medicine have assured the public that the practice of sodomy is a legitimate alternative lifestyle, rather than a perverted and depraved crime against humanity.”
— In 1990, the Bangor Daily News published a letter from Lockman in which he decried a CBS documentary about the plight of gay teens as “another effort by the homosexual lobby to spread the Big Lie that ‘gay is good’ and that one out of 10 youngsters is ‘born that way.’ This pseudo-scientific rubbish has no basis whatsoever in fact; it is nothing more than a recruitment tool for the militant homosexual movement.”
— Tipping also cites a 1995 letter in the Lewiston Sun Journal, in which a reader quotes a statement attributed to Lockman: “If a woman has (the right to an abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death.”
Efforts Tuesday to reach Lockman were unsuccessful. The spokesman for the House Republicans, David Sorensen, said the caucus would make no official comment on Lockman’s statements or the Democratic Party’s call for his resignation.
Tipping said in an interview that he was prompted to look into Lockman’s published past after “hearing he may have done and said some crazy things.” He said he believed there was a case to be made for Lockman’s resignation, but he’d like first to hear from the representative himself.
“I would like to hear first whether he still holds those beliefs and whether he’d apologize,” Tipping said. “The things he said would be very hard to defend.” Tipping said he had also tried to contact Lockman before publishing his blog post.
House Majority Whip Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, stopped short of calling for Lockman’s resignation, but also called for Lockman to explain himself.
“An apology is definitely due, and I want an explanation. Were these comments taken out of context?” McCabe said. “I find them highly offensive, downright disturbing.”
Lockman made headlines recently when he led a group of 26 House Republicans in calling for House Speaker Mark Eves to recuse himself from the ongoing debate regarding Medicaid expansion because of Eves’ job with Sweetser, a behavioral health care provider.
Lockman and his colleagues said Eves had a conflict of interest because Sweetser is a recipient of Medicaid dollars. In a letter released Tuesday, Jonathan Wayne, director of the Maine Ethics Commission, said Eves does not have a conflict of interest.