A new profile of Maine Speaker of the House Ryan Fecteau in LGBTQ Nation, a national news magazine that reports on issues relevant to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer community, highlights both his groundbreaking new role as the first openly gay speaker in Maine and the incredible challenges that lie ahead in tackling the health and economic crises created by the pandemic.
Speaker Fecteau’s priorities include affordable housing, childcare, and rebuilding the workforce devastated by the ongoing pandemic, and he describes his belief in compromise to enact solutions for Maine people, regardless of whether “it’s a Democratic solution or a Republican solution or an Independent solution.”
LGBTQ Nation: Maine’s first gay Speaker of the House is a “pragmatic progressive” who plays the long game
By: Molly Sprayregen
February 5, 2021
- On December 3rd, Ryan Fecteau made history by becoming Maine’s first gay Speaker of the House. Known for sponsoring the bill that banned conversion therapy in the state, the out Democratic state representative is excited to continue championing the LGBTQ community in his new role.
- “It seems like every financial crisis that could happen did happen,” he said. “That was the growing up experience I had…People like me don’t end up as Speaker of the House, but I think it’s a testament to the fact that in the US, as it should be, we can persevere. We can find our way through various battles.”
- “The reason why I’m a Democrat is the programs that we have fought to defend and institute, they helped my family get by. They helped me obtain an education I could be proud of. They helped propel me to where I am today.”
- His experience as Speaker thus far, he said, has been “incredibly challenging” as the Maine legislature works to tackle both the health and economic challenges created by the pandemic.
- In early January, Fecteau and Senate President Troy Jackson (D) proposed a COVID-19 Patient Bill of Rights as the first bill of the new session, which among other things, would require state-regulated health insurance plans to cover COVID-19 testing and immunizations. It would also increase Maine residents’ access to telehealth.
- “I think this is a moment we need to seize. We need to start finding ways to work together again because our communities ultimately don’t care if it’s a Democratic solution or a Republican solution or an Independent solution. They just want us to enact solutions, and that’s my goal.”
- He sees policymaking as a long game. In 2018, for example, his conversion therapy bill was vetoed by then-Republican Governor Paul LePage, despite making it through a Republican-controlled Senate. Nevertheless, Fecteau believes it had an impact.
- “We’re very lucky,” he said, “and I’m looking forward to electing many many more LGBTQ members to state legislatures across the country.”