March 11, 2014 at 4:07 pm EST | by guest columnist
Michaud’s disappointing voting record
Mike Michaud, Maine, United States House of Representatives, Democratic Party, U.S. Congress, gay news, Washington Blade

Mike Michaud’s record on reproductive freedom should be of concern to LGBT voters. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

By JAMES SCHWARTZ

 

As a former D.C. resident now living in Maine, I read The Washington Blade with interest. But I have to say that Chris Johnson’s Feb. 26 piece on the governor’s race here missed the mark. Yes, Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) recently came out and is running for governor, but his record of support for LGBT rights is mixed at best.

Serving in the state legislature from 1981 to 1997, he voted 19 times against efforts to prohibit discrimination of LGBT people in Maine. While his record of support in the U.S. Congress has been much stronger, he was conspicuously quiet during the 2009 and 2012 fights for marriage equality. The other U.S. Representative, Chellie Pingree (D), attended public events, spoke up on the House floor, and used her position to underscore support for marriage equality. But not Mike Michaud.

Johnson wrote that Michaud’s independent opponent, Eliot Cutler, was a “perennial candidate.” But Eliot ran only once before — in 2010 — losing to his Republican opponent by fewer than 11,000 votes.

Full disclosure: I back Cutler in this year’s governor’s race. He and his wife, Melanie, were invaluable supporters during the battles for marriage equality. They hosted the state’s largest reception for the campaign at their home in 2012. Cutler has also been a steadfast supporter of LGBT rights beyond marriage, endorsing efforts to ensure safe schools, for culturally competent health care and for inclusive communities.

Significantly, unlike his opponent, Cutler is also a vocal advocate of a woman’s right to choose; Michaud has voted repeatedly against women’s reproductive rights.

One more insight about Cutler’s support for gay people and equality: When my partner and I decided to marry last year, we asked Eliot if he would officiate. He never hesitated, never cited concerns about the campaign or his public image, never asked us to keep the ceremony quiet. He said only two words: “Yes” and “When?” We were married on the front porch of his house in August with his wife and two other friends serving as witnesses.

It’s important and long past due that we have openly gay candidates running for office in Maine and throughout the land. But sexual orientation isn’t reason enough to endorse anyone. Records matter. And Rep. Michaud’s is deeply disappointing.  

James Schwartz is a former D.C. resident now living in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

  • J. Beckham

    As an outsider looking in, it strikes me as interesting that so many are willing to discount one candidate’s LGBT support as political expedience, when the other candidate had a 16-year track record of throwing everyone under the bus for that very same reason. It’s often hard to know with certainty if candidate stands/votes on his/her own principle versus the prevailing wind. But it sounds like M. showed his hand and his willingness to do what he needed to get elected early on in his career. Not just once or twice, but repeatedly. Voters who dismiss those actions because they took place in the past, do so at their own peril. Statesmen and women do not wait until it’s safe to speak out for what is right. I’m with the writer above. Just because a candidate is out, does not mean they have “the stuff” to make good public servants. And I have little patience with our LGBT brother and sister politicians who have waited until it was safe to the right thing.

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