October 11, 2012 | by Chris Johnson
U.S. senators from Maine neutral on marriage ballot initiative
Susan Collins, Senate, Victory Fund, Republican

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

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.

“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.

UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect an additional statement received later Thursday from Sen. Olympia Snowe.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

5 Comments
  • She’s delighted with her new marriage, but still ‘considering’ whether the GLBT in her own state should have equal marriage? Does this smack of hypocrisy??

    • No. Not hypocrisy. Pure lack of leadership and small vision. She’s all about maintaining her unbroken record of not missing a vote especially such important ones like naming a post office. Meanwhile the people of Maine get poorer as its economy continues to decline.

  • What a shame that Olympia Snowe did not endorse this referendum and go out on a moral high note.

    Anyone who wants to help pass marriage equality in Maine can go to the website of the group fighting for it and lend it support. You can find it using Google

    Mainers United For Marriage

    • She has to say “its up to the people of Maine” because that was her husband Jock Mckernan’s line when as Governor, he vetoed the gay rights bill during early 90s. To say otherwise means he was wrong and they would have to apologize which is something they are completely unprepared to do. Even the marriage of their buddy Steve Gunderson, president of the for profit College and University association, isn’t enough to get them to make a public statement. Never forget that McKernan created the template of using the LGBT community as a wedge issue that kept the GOP leadership re-elected. Karl Rove took it and perfected it.

  • This is a prime example of why we need to elect Democrats to the House and Senate and make sure that at least the leadership in the Congress is willing to stand up and be counted for LGBT rights. Both these Senators have occassionally supported LGBT rights and Susan Collins was a prime mover in getting DADT repealed. But here she is vacillating on whether to support human and civil rights for LGBT Americans in her home state. Snowe recently married in Maine and now she questions or won’t support members of the LGBT community in her state having the same right. What is it with these people? What is so hard for them to understand that civil law should apply equally to all people.

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