Former LePage Spokesman Makes Case for Marriage Equality
The administration of Governor Paul LePage has been the most visible aspect of the new hard-line conservative movement in Maine and, for seven months, communications and political director Dan Demeritt was the voice of that administration.
(Granted, that voice often had to begin his statements with "What the Governor meant to say was...")
That's why it was surprising for many to see Demeritt's tweet last week: "I signed the Equality Maine petition today. Tough times easier with loving spouse. I wish the same support for everyone."
According to Demeritt, though, his support for marriage equality is right in line with the philosophy of many tea partiers.
"I believe that you ought to be able to exercise your freedoms and rights right up until they start infringing on mine," said Demeritt. "I think there's a strong belief, particularly among people under the tea party banner and among the newly engaged, in personal responsibility and individual choice and freedoms."
He also notes that the ballot question explicitly protects the rights of churches and religious groups.
Demeritt left the service of the governor after some real estate investments he had made went sour, became public and began to distract from the administration's agenda. There were also rumors of maneuvering by Republican staff at the statehouse who disapproved of Demeritt's actions in areas of message and policy.
According to Demeritt, his financial troubles, which necessitated the selling of several properties including his Augusta pizza business, reinforced his understanding of the importance of marriage.
"I've certainly had a tumultuous year and having a loving spouse made it easier to navigate and get through and I think everyone should be able to have that, to have the whole thing," said Demeritt
While he had voted in favor of marriage equality in 2009, he kept his support quiet until a recent conversation with a friend and former colleague.
"I was talking to her a few days before the tweet. She has had a partner for 20 years and I asked her if they would get married if they could," explained Demeritt. "She said absolutely. She explained all the steps they've had to take to protect themselves and their interests. That's why I sent the tweet out. It just really hit home for me."
While Demeritt doesn't anticipate taking much of an active role on marriage equality, he is currently engaged in another referendum campaign, working as a consultant for the Penobscot County for Table Games Jobs PAC. The group is seeking an expansion of Hollywood Slots in Bangor.