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Christian activist returns after suspension for attempted outings

Christian activist returns after suspension for attempted outings

The executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine has returned to work after a one-month suspension for sending an online newsletter seeking information about legislators who might be gay or lesbian. Michael Heath, who was back on the job Monday, said he spent the last 30 days praying and reflecting. "I stayed away from the office, and I prayed and I thought and I spent time with my wife and sons," said Heath, 42, of South China. "I reflected on what happened and what the next steps should be." Heath's online newsletter unleashed a firestorm of criticism from Gov. John Baldacci and members of the legislature. Heath, who has served as spokesman for the conservative Christian group for more than a decade, issued a public apology. In announcing his suspension, the league's board of directors said that by calling for personal information about the sexual orientation of public officials, Heath had "crossed a line of ethical behavior into a realm of sinful gossip." The episode followed a legislative debate on same-sex marriage. The civic league held a rally at the capitol in which hundreds of people spoke of the need to amend the state's constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. "I need to learn to count to 10, especially after a success like the marriage rally," Heath said Monday. "I need to be careful not to become headstrong and push too hard and come up with ideas that ought not to be ideas at all." Heath said he will have to mend fences with legislators who will be taking votes on issues important to the civic league, such as gambling and gay rights. Now that the legislative session is nearly over, he and others will be mapping out the league's goals for the coming months. "I am energized," he said. "I'm glad to be back and looking forward to working in a more effective way than ever on issues I care deeply about."

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