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U.S. senators from Maine neutral on marriage ballot initiative

CHRIS JOHNSON | Washington Blade
Thursday, October 11, 2012
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The Republican U.S. senators from Maine are no taking no position on the Maine marriage ballot initiative just weeks before voters will decide whether to legalize same-sex marriage at the polls.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she’s “considering” her position on the initiative in an email provided Thursday morning to the Washington Blade as she recalled her previous opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)
Photo: Michael Key, Washington Blade

“Historically, laws regulating family and domestic affairs have been almost exclusively regulated by the states which is why I have voted against federal constitutional amendments defining marriage,” Collins said. “Next month, the voters in Maine will be asked to decide if they will allow the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Like voters in my state, I am considering this issue very carefully.”

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who’s set to retire Congress at the end of this year, expressed a similarly neutral position in a separate statement later Thursday.

“It is left to individual states through the legislature or referenda to make their own determinations on this personal issue — and the people of Maine will now make this final determination come Election Day,” Snowe said.

Both senators are known for being among the most pro-LGBT Republican lawmakers in Congress. They’re both original co-sponsors of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004 and 2006.

Both senators voted from “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, and Collins is credited with being a leader in that legislative effort.  Additionally, just last month, Collins became the first Republican co-sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act.

Collins’ response on the marriage initiative is similar to what Collins told the Washington Blade in 2009 when the issue of marriage previously came to the ballot in Maine. When asked on Capitol Hill whether she’d take a position on the ballot initiative at the time, Collins replied: “I’m not. I don’t get involved in state issues.” Voters in Maine ultimately rejected same-sex marriage by a margin of 53-47, but polls indicate the situation may be different this time around.

On Aug. 11, Collins had her own wedding in Caribou, Maine, to political consultant Thomas Daffron. According to the Portland Press Herald, the ceremony was performed at the Gray Memorial United Methodist Church and about 50 people attended the wedding.

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