Democrats took aim Thursday at Republican congressional hopeful Bruce Poliquin for his “tacit endorsement” of a conservative Christian political group that remains deeply opposed to the legalization of gay marriage almost a decade ago.

Advertisement for candidate training in December by a Christian group that wants to see more pro-Biblical candidates running for office. Christian Civic League of Maine

Poliquin is slated to help with a December candidate training session, put together by the Christian Civic League of Maine, a politically active group that declared the Republican National Committee’s recent decision to form a new RNC Pride Coalition, “threatens to undermine the GOP’s pro-faith and pro-family values.”

In its latest newsletter, the group said the national party’s “incredibly disappointing” move “shows why the GOP is not one-and-the-same with Christian advocacy organizations.”

In the same newsletter, the group announced that former U.S. Rep. Poliquin, the best-known of four Republicans jostling to become the party’s 2nd District congressional candidate next year, will help train candidates to be “local Christian leaders in politics who will advocate for God’s truth.”

Poliquin, who could not be reached for comment, is scheduled to participate in a Dec. 10 panel discussion during the training with Heather Pouliot, a city councilor in Augusta.

The two-day candidate training session at the Faith Evangelical Free Church in Waterville was created, the group said, “to encourage people who have never considered running for elected office before, to gain the insight and tools needed to run for local races, such as school committee or even state offices like the Maine House.”

“The Christian Civic League of Maine envisions a state and nation where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive and life is cherished,” the event registration page says.

Democrats took note.

Jacob Stern, communications director of the Maine Democratic Party, said, “Poliquin’s tacit endorsements of the Christian Civic League’s rabidly anti-LGBTQ agenda is deeply out of step with the beliefs of the vast majority of Mainers.”

“There’s simply no place in Maine for candidates who want to roll back the clock on basic LGBTQ rights like same-sex marriage,” Stern said.

Maine voters in 2012 endorsed a bill that favored the legalization of same-sex marriages by a 53-47 margin, one of three states that day that legalized gay marriage via referendum. The Supreme Court later made it the law of the land with its 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, that required all states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Poliquin has defended his own stance on gay rights in the past.

Former congressman Bruce Poliquin AP file photo

“I’ve always been against discrimination against anybody, at any place and any time,” Poliquin said in 2016 after criticism that he’d switched his vote on an anti-discrimination measure, to help Republicans block it by a narrow margin in the House.

Maine’s Christian Civic League, though, makes no secret of its opposition to gay rights.

The group said in its Nov. 18 newsletter, “We believe that the biblical definition of marriage is the only valid definition — and it is the definition provided by God.”

It terms the “LGBTQ agenda” a “serious threat to parental rights and religious freedom.”

The group said, “We cannot promote God’s truth by uniting with secular groups that boast dangerous, anti-faith, and anti-family ideas” and cited the RNC’s decision as, “just one example of why Christians must engage in politics.”

“Now more than ever, the political sphere desperately needs a voice that prioritizes God’s truth and a biblical worldview ahead of secular alliances,” it said. “No amount of political power is worth sacrificing our values; and loving people, as we are called to do, often requires that we condemn their ideas.”

“This means that caring for the LGBTQ community means we must denounce their harmful agenda,” it said, adding that national GOP “has done the opposite in its decision to partner with the LGBTQ community.”

At least some Republicans agreed that the national party should not have allied with the gay-friendly Log Cabin Republicans to form the new Pride Coalition.

Texas Republican Party Chairperson Matt Rinaldi issued a news release saying, “we do not believe building GOP versions of left-wing movements further our cause and do not support this move by the Republican National Committee.”

The national Republican leader, Ronna McDaniel, received so much flak over her announcement in early November of the new Pride Coalition, that she issued an apology this week for handling it clumsily.

“We are simply replicating and continuing the outreach structure set up by the Trump campaign,” McDaniel said in an email to party insiders. “Making further inroads for future elections is important, especially for close races. That is why we are doing this.”

The Maine Republican Party’s proposed 2022 platform includes a provision calling marriage, “the union of one man and one woman.”

Poliquin has three primary opponents that he’ll need to outlast or defeat before he can serve as the Republican’s standard bearer, in what promises to be a closely fought race against two-term U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Lewiston Democrat who took office in 2018 after unseating Poliquin.

The other GOP contenders are Liz Caruso of Caratunk, state Rep. Mike Perkins of Oakland and Sean Joyce of Newburgh.

The Christian Civic League of Maine was formed in 1897 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit research and education organization. Its mission is, “to bring a Biblical perspective to public policy issues that impact the family and equip citizens to be voices of persuasion on behalf of traditional family values in their localities.”

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