The GOP U.S. senator from Massachusetts addressed a crowd of gay Republicans on Tuesday while emphasizing his deliberation that led to his vote for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), spoke before an estimated 215 attendees at the National Log Cabin Republicans’ awards dinner in D.C. Brown — along with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) —were given Log Cabin’s “Spirit of Lincoln” awards for theirs votes for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“I try to vote in what’s in the best interest of Massachusetts and for our country,” Brown said. “On every issue that comes before me — whether it’s ranging from jobs bills, or fed regs, the START Treaty or repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ — I’ve done my due diligence, made sure that I understood the issue. And I always act in an independent manner, regardless of what political party is supporting that issue.”
Brown’s only explicit mention of LGBT issues during his speech before gay Republicans was his vote to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Brown said the deliberation that preceded his decision to vote for repeal was a “perfect example” of his approach on deciding how to vote on certain issues.
“From the start, I made it clear that I wanted to review the findings of the Pentagon report to make sure that the change in policy would not negatively affect our military readiness, especially the way our troops are serving around the world, and especially where lives were on the line,” Brown said.
In making his decision to vote for repeal, Brown said he spoke to active duty and retired members of the military — in a manner that he called “on the down low” — to see if the armed forces were ready for the change, and ultimately made the decision to vote “yes.”
Brown said he learned during his time in public service “there are good people on both sides of every issue” without specifically mentioning LGBT issues as part of this portion of his remarks.
Collins spoke prior to Brown at the dinner. Her remarks were based off remarks she gave earlier during a news conference and she again read a postcard from an anonymous Army soldier thanking her for her vote to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the National Log Cabin Republicans, issued a statement following Brown’s speech endorsing the senator for re-election in 2012.
“Sen. Scott Brown came to Washington, D.C. last year as part of a vanguard that broke the Democratic lockdown on the Senate,” Cooper said. “Since then he has been a firm and consistent voice on core conservative positions in support of job growth and reducing the deficit.”
Brown’s support for the LGBT community while in the U.S. Senate is marginal. Although Brown voted in favor of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal last year, he previously voted against cloture on the defense authorization bill when it carried the language to end the military’s gay ban.
The Massachusetts Republican hasn’t signed on as a co-sponsor to major pro-LGBT legislation, such as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act or legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. Brown also voted in favor of a measure that would bring same-sex marriage in D.C. up for referendum in the district.
Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Brown served as a state senator in Massachusetts and voted several times for measures that would have rescinded same-sex marriage in the Bay State.
In the upcoming election, Brown is likely to face Democrat Elizabeth Warren, the former chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the U.S. bank bailout of 2008. A poll published Tuesday by Public Policy Polling found Warren marginally leading Brown 46-44.