A Republican state lawmaker who has come under fire from the Maine Democratic Party for past statements about gays, rape and abortion said Wednesday that he regrets making the comments.

Rep. Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst, is widely regarded as a polarizing lawmaker who frequently uses divisive rhetoric during floor speeches and press events. On Tuesday, Democrats called for Lockman’s resignation, following a blog post by a liberal activist that detailed public statements about gays, abortion and rape made over several decades.

The post by Maine People’s Alliance activist Mike Tipping mined press clippings to unearth several offensive comments. In one, Lockman implied that HIV and AIDS could be spread by bed sheets and mosquitoes. In another, he said that the progressive movement assisted the AIDS epidemic by assuring “the public that the practice of sodomy is a legitimate alternative lifestyle, rather than a perverted and depraved crime against humanity.” In a 1995 letter in the Sun Journal in Lewiston, a reader quoted a press statement by Lockman, then part of the Pro Life Education Association, saying, “If a woman has (the right to an abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death.”

Tipping also referenced a 1996 Bangor Daily News story in which Lockman appeared dressed as a vampire outside the Federal Building in Bangor to protest the “vampire-nature” of the IRS and its “police-state” method of collecting taxes.

Most of the comments were made during the 1980s and 1990s, but Maine Democratic Party chairman Ben Grant issued a statement Tuesday calling for Lockman’s resignation. Grant said the comments were “hateful, vicious and offensive” and he called Lockman a “disturbed individual who holds some of the most abhorrent beliefs ever heard from a public official in Maine.”

Lockman did not respond to several press inquiries Tuesday. On Wednesday, he released a written statement.

“I have always been passionate about my beliefs, and years ago I said things that I regret. I hold no animosity toward anyone by virtue of their gender or sexual orientation, and today I am focused on ensuring freedom and economic prosperity for all Mainers,” he said.

House Republican leader Rep. Kenneth Fredette, R-Newport, also issued a statement.

“I do not condone these or any statements that are intentionally hurtful toward others on account of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation,” he said.

The scrutiny of Lockman followed his recent comments about House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick. Lockman claimed Eves had a conflict of interest that should preclude his participation in the Medicaid expansion debate. An advisory ruling by the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices on Tuesday found Eves had no inherent conflict.

Eves, in a press conference Wednesday with other Democratic leaders, called Lockman’s comment “extremely alarming,” but did not call for his resignation.

“From my perspective, what I’ve seen is that Rep. Lockman is a very extreme individual that says really extreme things …” Eves said. “I think it’s for those that elected Rep. Lockman to decide (his fate). People of Maine do not tolerate those types of things. … You’re talking about comments that are really out of character … for any elected official to be saying.”

Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at:

smistler@pressherald.com

Twitter: @stevemistler