A state lawmaker in Maine has issued a statement saying he regrets certain comments he made in the past as a champion of ultra-conservative causes in the state. Rep. Lawrence E. Lockman, Republican, issued the statement Wednesday, according to the Portland Press Herald.
The statement came on the heels of a blog post, carried by the Bangor Daily News, by activist and columnist Mike Tipping. The post chronicled a history of untoward comments made by Lockman in the '80s and '90s.
In 1987, for example, Lockman implied that HIV and AIDS could be spread by mosquitoes and dirty bed sheets. That same year, in a letter he wrote to the Lewiston Daily Sun, Lockman argued against funding for AIDS education.
“In the overwhelming majority of cases, people are dying because of their addiction to sodomy,” he wrote. “They are dying 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, depraved crime against humanity.”
Perhaps the most troubling statement from Lockman’s past, though, came in 1990. As director of the Pro Life Education Association, he suggested that if abortion was legal, there was no legitimate reason that rape should be illegal.
“If a woman has (the right to 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,” he was quoted as saying.
Such statements have led some key Democrats in Maine to call for Lockman’s resignation. Those include Maine Democratic Party chairman Ben Grant, who called Lockman’s quotes “hateful, vicious and offensive.” Grant also said Lockman was a “disturbed individual who holds some of the most abhorrent beliefs ever heard from a public official in Maine.”
House Speaker Mark Eves, Democrat, called the comments “extremely alarming” but did not call for his resignation. Eves instead argued that Lockman’s future should be left to the voters.
“I think it’s for those that elected Rep. Lockman to decide (his fate,” he said. "People of Maine do not tolerate those types of things. You’re talking about comments that are really out of character ... for any elected official to be saying."
Lockman released his written statement Wednesday in response to the uproar.
“I have always been passionate about my beliefs, and years ago I said things that I regret,” he wrote, stopping just short of a full apology. "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."