Bellows Challenges Collins to Lead GOP in Dropping Opposition to Marriage Equality
This morning, U.S. Senate candidate Shenna Bellows challenged Republican Senator Susan Collins to lead the GOP in dropping opposition to marriage equality in advance of the state party’s convention this weekend. Bellows was a leader in the fight to pass marriage equality in Maine in 2012. Collins has persisted in remaining silent on the issue.
The final draft of the 2014 Maine Republican Party Platform includes a declaration that “marriage be defined as the union between one man and one woman.”
“The people of Maine – Democrats, Independents, and Republicans alike - have been very clear: they want equality under the law and are proud that the constitutional rights of the gay community are being upheld. I challenge Republican Susan Collins as the most senior leader in her party to have the courage to lead on this issue and bring the Maine Republican Party back from the ideological brink. Discrimination has no place in a major party platform,” Bellows said.
In the 2012 election, Maine was one of the first states to pass marriage equality via referendum. The measure passed with 53% of the vote. As Executive Director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union, Bellows was on the front lines of the fight, working for seven years to build coalitions on both sides of the aisle to support the freedom to marry. Bellows served on the Executive Committee of Mainers United for Marriage and facilitated the creation of Republicans for the Freedom to Marry.
Collins has remained conspicuously silent on the issue of marriage equality for many years, giving no indication as to whether she even has a position on whether the constitutional rights of same-sex couples should be protected. In a 2009 interview with Andrea Mitchell, she indicated that she thought the issue would be better off left to the states. Now, despite Maine voters making their support clear, Senator Collins still refuses to stand with them.
Support for same-sex marriage has increased dramatically in recent years among Americans of all political affiliations. Over the past decade, support among Republicans of all ages had soared, increasing 20 points among those ages 50-64 and 16 points among those over the age of 65. In a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, 40% of Republicans and 64% of self-described moderates expressed their support, highlighting the increasingly mainstream position on the issue.
“It is deeply disturbing that Republican Susan Collins is so reluctant to take a stance on an issue that a majority of Mainers support,” said Pat Peard, chair of the Mainers United for Marriage, who served on the Executive Committee with Bellows. “In the United States Senate, we need champions of constitutional freedoms for all people.”
The Maine Republican Party will host its annual convention this weekend, where delegates will vote on elements of the party platform. Susan Collins will be addressing the group, along with Governor Paul LePage and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul