AUGUSTA — A Republican lawmaker on Wednesday said he regrets making offensive comments regarding gay men and women, abortion, rape and the AIDS epidemic.
Rep. Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst, was put on the hot seat Tuesday after the Maine Democratic Party called for his resignation in response to incendiary, decades-old statements from before Lockman’s time in the Legislature, which were discovered and published by liberal blogger Mike Tipping, who is also communications director for the Maine People’s Alliance.
Lockman refused to respond to calls and emails by reporters, and the House Minority Office on Tuesday refused comment. Gov. Paul LePage’s staff also has said he will not comment on Lockman’s previous statements.
Among the controversial comments were statements in the ’80s and ’90s, published in letters to the editor in the Bangor Daily News and Sun Journal, in which Lockman called the idea that homosexuality is natural “pseudo-scientific rubbish” and said the AIDS epidemic was the result of “progressive, enlightened, tolerant people in politics and in medicine [who] have assured the public that the practice of sodomy is a legitimate alternative lifestyle, rather than a perverted and depraved crime against humanity.”
He also asked why rape should be illegal if abortion is to be allowed, saying, “At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death.”
In his statement, Lockman said he holds no ill will toward any individual as a result of his beliefs, but did not address whether he still believes being gay is choice, or whether his views on rape, abortion or AIDS have evolved.
“I have always been passionate about my beliefs, and years ago I said things that I regret,” said Lockman in a statement released by the House Minority Office. “I hold no animosity toward anyone by virtue of their gender or sexual orientation, and today I am focused on ensuring freedom and economic prosperity for all Mainers.”
On Wednesday, before Lockman’s apology, House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, called Lockman “an extreme individual,” but said it was not his place to call for the representative’s resignation.
“I think it is for those who elected Rep. Lockman to decide, for himself to decide, whether he needs to justify or respond to these comments,” Eves said.
House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, rebuked Lockman’s offensive comments in a written statement issued Wednesday.
“I do not condone these or any statements that are intentionally hurtful toward others on account of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation,” Fredette said.
Sun Journal writer Scott Thistle contributed to this report.