When voters in Maine go to the polls on November 3 to vote on Ballot Question 1, they’ll be deciding whether to outlaw same-sex marriage (a YES vote) or to let same-sex marriage stand (a NO vote).
The YES on 1 campaign consists of a front group called “Stand for Marriage Maine” that is almost wholly funded by out-of-state religious groups; for that, the name “Stand for Marriage Maine” really needs to be kept in quotes. The out-of-state religious front group is getting increasingly desperate in its efforts to convince Mainers to overturn equality. Lately, it has been broadcasting television advertisements and sending out blast e-mails making the claim that unless Maine votes YES on Ballot Question 1, the state will institute “mandatory gay sex education” “as the public schools begin the process of indoctrinating them on the subject of homosexual marriage” “to fund ‘explicit’ homosexual instruction in the classroom”.
Portland Press Herald columnist Bill Nemitz has already researched Maine education law and LD 1020 (Maine’s new same-sex marriage law) and shown that nowhere in either law is there any mandated curriculum regarding either homosexuality or marriage. In the state of Maine, curriculum decisions in Maine are made by local school boards elected directly by local communities, and nothing in the same-sex marriage law changes that.
The YES on 1 forces rejected Nemitz’s documentation and kept on making their wild claims. Apparently, he is part of the “gay agenda” and therefore not to be trusted. But then the top law official in the state of Maine, Attorney General Janet Mills, weighed in. Following a request by State Education Commissioner Susan Gendron, Attorney General Mills researched and responded to the question of
the implications of LD 1020, PL 2009, ch. 82, “An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom,” on the development of school curricula in our state. My office’s analysis of the issue reveals no impact on the curricula of Maine’s public schools. LD1020… allows a specific religious conscience exception, prohibiting any court or state or local governmental entity from interfering with any religious institution’s policy or teachings.
I have scoured Maine laws relating to the education of its children for any references to marriage in the public school curricula. I have found none.
In fact, for parents concerned about educational practices in Maine, safeguards for persons with religious beliefs are already provided in the law: The Maine Learning Results statute, 20-A M.R.S.A. sec. 6209, requires “accommodation provisions for instances where course content conflicts with sincerely held religious beliefs and practices of a student’s parent or guardian.”
Thus, if parents with religious beliefs which do not permit them to vote do not wish their children to be taught about their duty to vote in civics classes, for instance, they could seek accommodation under this law. Likewise, parents with religious beliefs which prohibit dancing might seek accommodation for their child regarding physical education classes that involved dancing. (See Dept. of Educ. 05 071 CMR 127-3.07, which requires the local superintendent to make accommodations before asking the Commissioner for assistance.).
Whatever the benefits and burdens of the civil institution of marriage, the state’s definition of marriage has no bearing on the curricula in our public schools, either under current law or under LD 1020. Neither the Parker decision nor passage of LD 1020 “requires” or “allows” the teaching of any particular subject in our schools, in answer to the citizen question attached to your letter.
What is taught in private or religious schools, of course, may include the principles and religious tenets of those organizations regarding family institutions and other subjects, and nothing in LD 1020 would change that prerogative of private or religious institutions to instill those beliefs in their children either at home or at their schools.
That’s a pretty definitive statement: the same-sex marriage law LD 1020 has no effect on either public school curricula in the state of Maine or the ability of private schools to teach whatever they want about marriage.
In the face of these findings not just by some “gay agenda” journalist but by the Attorney General herself, how could the front group “Stand for Marriage Maine” possibly continue to maintain that Maine’s same-sex marriage law institutes “mandatory gay sex education” “as the public schools begin the process of indoctrinating them on the subject of homosexual marriage”?
Here’s how. Read this unhinged statement by Marc Mutty, the “Stand for Marriage Maine” Chair whose salary is directly paid by the Roman Catholic Church:
It was a foregone conclusion that the Attorney General, an ardent supporter of same-sex marriage, has taken the position that there will be no change in public school curricula if Question 1 fails and LD 1020 takes effect…. Her legal opinion has not even a shred of pretense of independence or objectivity…. It’s a shame that Maine’s top lawyer is using her good office for such a transparent political stunt.
First, slam the messenger. Then pull out the subjunctive:
Quite simply, the issues we have raised in this campaign were the very same issues raised by many at the single public hearing on LD 1020; none of our arguments are news to our opponents. They had ample opportunity to blunt our concerns by expressly prohibiting same-sex marriage from being discussed in public schools, but they did not do so.
It is irrefutable that there is nothing in LD 1020 that prevents our children from being taught about same-sex marriage. Maine Department of Education spokesman David Connerty-Marin confirmed that point earlier this month when he told a Maine reporter, “There’s nothing in Maine’s standards that requires or encourages teaching on that topic and there’s nothing that prohibits it either.” [Empasis added]
Did you get that “empasis”? Nothing in Maine’s state laws, either before or after LD 1020’s passage, requires teaching on same-sex marriage, but nothing prohibits it either… so it could happen! On that basis, “Stand for Marriage Maine” wants Mainers to vote YES on 1 to overturn LD 1020.
This position exhibits logic that is doubly bizarre. First of all, “Stand for Marriage Maine” is telling voters to reject the new law LD 1020 for a feature of Maine state law that LD 1020 does not affect. If LD 1020 is retained by voters this November, then nothing will require or prohibit teaching on same-sex marriage. It’ll be up to local school boards, elected by members of local communities. If LD 1020 is rejected by voters this November, then nothing will require or prohibit teaching on same-sex marriage. It’ll be up to local school boards, elected by members of local communities. No matter how Mainers vote on Ballot Question 1 this November, the law on curriculum will stay the same.
Golly, why doesn’t “Stand for Marriage Maine” come out in favor Ballot Question 2, which would repeal excise taxes? You see, if you vote NO on 2, then maybe somehow mandatory instruction in gay sex techniques could be mandated across the state of Maine. Even if such changes would not be due to the language in Ballot Question 2, it could happen in the future, and you can’t deny that! I mean, there’s nothing in the language of Ballot Question 2 to prohibit it. So vote YES on 2, well, because! It’s the same argument, and it makes no more sense for Ballot Question 1 than it does for Ballot Question 2.
The second bizarre feature of “Stand for Marriage Maine’s” reasoning is that it can be used to “prove” anything about the effect of Ballot Question 1 on Maine school curricula. Anything at all. For instance, did you know that the politicians who passed LD 1020 had ample opportunity to blunt concerns about the teaching of the space alien agenda by expressly prohibiting space aliens from being discussed in public schools? Sadly, they did not do so. It is irrefutable that there is nothing in LD 1020 that prevents our children from being taught about space aliens and the alien agenda. If only someone would ask Maine Department of Education spokesman David Connerty-Marin, he would confirm that “there’s nothing in Maine’s standards that requires or encourages teaching on space aliens and there’s nothing that prohibits it either.” So if you don’t want your children to be indoctrinated to follow the agenda of the invading space aliens, you’d better vote YES on 1!
If you don’t want Maine schoolchildren to be taught that gravity is a kind of machine for sorting different-sized pebbles, vote YES on 1. You see, there is nothing in LD 1020 that prevents our children from being taught that. It is irrefutable!
If you don’t want Maine schoolchildren to have wings affixed to their backs with super glue and taught that they can fly like the fairies in Wonderland, vote YES on 1. You see, there is nothing in LD 1020 that prevents our children from being taught that. It is irrefutable!
If you don’t want Maine schoolchildren to be taught anything at all, fill in the blank and vote YES on 1. You see, there is nothing in LD 1020 that prevents our children from being taught anything, anything at all. It is irrefutable!
Hopefully, the last few generations of Maine’s schoolchildren have been provided with good curricula on logic and critical thinking by their towns’ local school boards. If so, they’ll know that arguments about “irrefutable” possibilities are best kept to Dan Brown novels and reruns of The X-Files.