ORONO — Two outspoken opponents of same-sex marriage visited the University of Maine to speak out against a gay marriage referendum Monday, the same day as the kickoff of the school’s weeklong pride week.

Paul Madore and Mike Heath have formed the No Special Rights PAC and are raising money to campaign against November’s statewide referendum asking voters if they want to legalize gay marriage. Heath and Madore have actively opposed gay rights and gay marriage initiatives in Maine for nearly 20 years.

They distributed fliers, talked with reporters and spoke in opposition to gay marriage on the Orono campus Monday, next to a separate anti-abortion display. By coincidence, they were located 10 yards or so from where a gay pride flag was raised ceremonially to kick off UMaine Pride Week.

Madore said holding a press conference at the start of pride week draws attention to referendum opponents.

“It’s not a superficial message, and some students are comfortable with it and others aren’t,” Madore said. “But that’s the point, if you’re going to build a dialogue … I think this is the place to do it.”

Madore said he opposes legalizing same-sex marriage because he considers it an attack on religious liberties. He further said homosexuality represents a “culture of death” because of its links to AIDS and because it “doesn’t bring forth life.”

The university encourages diverse viewpoints, as long they’re expressed in a respectful and civil manner, said Dean of Students Robert Dana. Pride week is a time for the school to celebrate diversity and assure members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community that the university is a supportive place, he said.

In a press release, Madore characterized pride week as a time when students and faculty are encouraged to be proud of “sexual deviance.”

Bex Hickman, a graduate student and coordinator for GLBT Services at the university, said about 60 people turned out in rainy weather for Monday’s flag-raising ceremony.