In a television advertisement that began airing this week, ‘Stand for Marriage’ alleges that extending marriage protections to Maine’s same-sex couples “has everything to do with schools.” The ad features a Massachusetts couple who tells the story of how their 7 year-old son’s teacher read a book to the class about one prince marrying another prince.
Maine’s Department of Education spokesperson David Connerty-Marin, however, disputes the claim that providing marriage protections for same-sex couples would make any difference to the state’s education policies:
Seeing as there is nothing in Maine education law or rule that even mentions marriage, I think it’s quite unlikely that changing the rules about marriage would encourage anyone to change what they are teaching in the classroom.
Connerty-Marin goes on to point out that there is nothing that prohibits Maine’s teachers from addressing the issue of same-sex couples in the classroom today:
There is nothing that would prohibit a teacher – two years ago, 10 years ago or a year from now – from reading a book to your child that you don’t like. Your recourse would be to talk to your child's teacher, principal, superintendent or school board and ultimately work to change policies or change the people who sit on that school board if you don't agree with those.
Jesse Connolly, campaign manager for the No on 1/ Protect Marriage Equality campaign also weighed in on the issue in the Sun Journal article:
To say that gay marriage is going to be taught in school is totally, 100 percent false in my opinion. There are gay and lesbian families in Maine that have kids in public schools, so if you're asking if those families are already acknowledged in the classroom by teachers, then I would say yes. But that has nothing to do with this campaign or bill.
AMERICAblog author John Aravosis notes that the ad’s scare tactic is not only similar to the fear based approach used in California’s Proposition 8 battle, it is exactly the same. Aravosis points out that the ad reuses the exact footage of the Massachusetts couple featured in the anti-LGBT ‘Yes on 8’ campaign last fall.
These are extreme views in any context and we believe that Maine voters will see through this cast of characters and focus on the real issue of treating all Maine families with dignity and respect... The fact that the ‘Yes on 1’ campaign would literally repackage the same ad their California consultants used in California is a testament to the national outsiders pushing their agenda on the voters of Maine. This is nothing more than a tired national playbook concocted by California political consultants and the national groups that pay their way.
GLAAD will continue to monitor the media’s coverage of Maine’s fight for marriage equality. Updates can be found on glaadBLOG.org