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Maine Democratic Party platform doubles down on support for reproductive, LGBTQ rights

Maine Democrats unveiled and adopted their 2024 party platform over the weekend, pledging to safeguard democracy, defend reproductive health rights, push for more affordable housing and combat the growing threat of climate change, among other stances.

By Evan Popp, Maine Morning Star - June 03, 2024
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FILE - The Maine State House is seen at sunrise, March 16, 2023, in Augusta, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

Maine Democrats unveiled and adopted their 2024 party platform over the weekend, pledging to safeguard democracy, defend reproductive health rights, push for more affordable housing and combat the growing threat of climate change, among other stances. 

The platform was presented at the party’s convention in Bangor, where participants heard from political leaders and mobilized supporters for the upcoming 2024 election cycle. 

The party agreed to six amendments to the platform on issues ranging from tribal sovereignty, substance use and prison reform. However, Democrats opted against 11 other proposed alterations, including a provision that called for ending U.S. aid to Israel until that country declares a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and withdraws from Palestinian territory. 

Several Maine-based organizations demonstrated at the party’s convention Friday in protest of the U.S.’ backing of Israel’s war in Gaza.  

In their finalized platform, Maine Democrats include a range of political and policy principles. One emphasis is the need to protect democracy. Within that section, the platform states that “insurrection is disqualifying,” a reference to President Donald Trump and the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol in which his supporters attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election. 

The platform also states that it is “our duty to condemn and prosecute those willing to storm the halls of Congress by force or who otherwise disrupt that transfer of power.” 

On the subject of elections, Maine Democrats also back universal voting rights and fair electoral districts free from political gerrymandering.  

Another focus is constitutional rights for women, including the right to reproductive freedom —  a major emphasis for Democrats around the country following the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022. The party platform states that amendments should be passed to the state and national constitutions “to prevent governmental interference with any individual’s decision relative to their own reproductive health.” 

The party’s platform also cites the need to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, eliminate gender pay gaps, and end violence against women.  

On health policy, the state party says it supports universal health care, gender-affirming care, increasing rural access to services, and an expansion of public health programs. 

As amended, the platform also recognizes substance use disorder as a health crisis and states that Democrats “unequivocally support expanded access to evidence-based treatment and assistance for recovery which includes but is not limited to harm reduction.” 

When it comes to housing affordability, a major challenge facing the state, Democrats say they will work to guarantee that “no Mainer will die from a lack of secure, safe, and affordable housing.” That means advocating for affordable housing development along with tenant protections and preventing homelessness through supporting the housing first model, among other policies. 

Another significant issue is climate change, which the party says poses an existential threat to the state. The platform pledges Democrats’ support for the implementation and continual improvement of Maine’s climate action plan, green energy expansion and transforming transportation to make it more sustainable. The party also states that Maine should seek energy independence, create a diverse renewable energy apparatus, protect the state’s natural resources and safeguard against storm damage.

The party platform addresses the issue of education as well, saying that Democrats support safe and inclusive schools and “comprehensive teaching and discussion of all subjects in a course of study guided by informed educators and uncorrupted by political agendas” — a likely reference to the increased right-wing pushback against public school curriculums. 

However, two education-related amendments failed to pass. One proposed for the party to ensure all Mainers have access to “affordable, low-cost, or free higher education, including four-year colleges, community colleges, and technical schools.” The other proposal called for the continuation of a program providing two years of free community college to Maine graduates and support for efforts to reduce the debt burden on Maine students. 

The platform outlines a number of other core values, including welcoming immigrants, supporting racial justice, backing LGBTQ rights, pushing for fair sentencing and alternatives to incarceration — including in the juvenile justice system — and recognizing tribal sovereignty (a plank that was amended slightly to explicitly recognize the sovereignty of the Wabanaki Nations). 

Along with those tenets, the platform contains many other principles, such as support for labor rights and equitable wages and helping veterans and older Mainers. However, a proposed amendment to the veterans section that would have acknowledged the sizeable portion of Maine veteran suicides that take place with firearms and sought to support firearm safety and suicide prevention efforts was not adopted.

The presentation and adoption of the Maine Democrats’ core values comes after Maine Republicans unveiled their platform in late April. The Maine GOP platform included a wide range of conservative stances, such as provisions opposing gender-based education, abortion and marriage equality and pushing to create more stringent requirements for voting. 

This story was originally published by the Maine Morning Star


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