Maine Governor Vetoes Teachers Bill, Cites Union’s ‘Endorsement Of Same-Sex Marriage’

Maine Governor Paul LePage (R) vetoed a bill on Tuesday that would have provided “additional pay to public school teachers who receive special national certification” and specifically pointed to the teachers’ union recent endorsement of a referendum to repeal the state’s ban against same-sex marriage as a reason for his opposition.

In his veto message, LePage claimed that improving the quality of teachers required “a larger more coordinated statewide solution,” before lashing out at the teacher’s union, which would partially fund the certification program. The governor said the union requires teachers to pay dues “which are squandered on a host of activities not even remotely related to professional development” and singled out its position on marriage equality:

“The MEA announced its endorsement recently of the same-sex marriage proposal on the November ballot,” LePage said in a press release Tuesday. “This announcement is an example of what the union is choosing to focus on rather than expanding and enhancing opportunities for teacher development.”

LePage had lashed out at the teacher’s union after members unanimously voted in favor of marriage equality on Sunday. “Too often, however, union bosses worry about a wide variety of efforts — political campaigns, lobbying, protecting bad teachers, insurances sales, and providing golf and skiing discounts — which are not related to furthering the education of our children,” he claimed, dismissing science which has shown that legal and social inequalities undermine LGBT families and their children. Research has also shown that schools that discuss gay and lesbian people are safer for LGBT youth than schools that don’t.

Unfortunately, the governor has a long history of opposing equal rights. In 2010, he claimed that “there is no place for transgendered students in the state’s primary schools” and that the Maine Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination because of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, needed to be reformed.