A force that has fought against gay rights in Maine lost steam on Monday, when Michael Heath, leader of the Maine Family Policy Council, resigned after more than 15 years at the helm of the organization and its predecessor, the Christian Civic League of Maine.
Heath became known as an outspoken opponent of abortion, casino gambling and gay rights. He was instrumental in a "people's veto" that repealed gay rights in Maine in 1999, and he continued the fight after the state enacted antidiscrimination legislation in 2005.
Despite his background, Heath and his group have largely sat out the current effort to repeal the new marriage equality law in Maine. Conservative colleagues disagree with his hardball style, according to the Associated Press.
"Some of those involved in the campaign to repeal the law felt Heath would have brought too harsh a tone to the campaign," reported the AP.
The assessment is based on precedent.
"In 2004," reported the AP, "the league suspended Heath from his duties for a month for sending an e-mail newsletter that sought information about Maine lawmakers who might be gay. The league's board said his action 'crossed a line of ethical behavior into a realm of sinful gossip.'"
Heath, 48, ended his tenure with the council on good terms, at least publicly. He plans to become a private consultant and to pursue new opportunities with his wife, according to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.
"We're excited about a new connection we've made in the African nation of Tanzania, and we want to get involved with teaching solar cooking to needy Africans," Heath told MPBN.