Susan Collins, a Republican senator from Maine, has accepted the endorsement of an anti-LGBT+ group by saying she’s “truly grateful” for its support – despite previously supporting the LGBT+ community.
Collins was the fourth sitting Republican to indicate support for equal marriage in 2014, following an endorsement for her re-election from LGBT+ advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign.
In 2010 she, along with senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, sponsored the bill that ended the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gay service members. In the early 2000s, she twice voted against a constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage.
Yet in an interview posted last week, Collins said she was “truly grateful” for the support of the Christian Civic League of Maine (CCLM), which was designated an anti-LGBT+ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre in 2017.
The CCLM, which is anti-abortion and says its mission is “dedicated to preserving Christian and traditional family values”, has also endorsed Donald Trump for president.
In a video released by the group on October 13, Collins is seen on Zoom with CCLM executive director Carroll Conley, who says that “it’s not a casual endorsement” for Collins from the CCLM.
“We want you to know that our endorsement of Susan Collins is an enthusiastic endorsement,” Conley said. “We have private conversations. I trust senator Collins. Even when we don’t agree, we can actually have confidential private conversations.”
Later in the video, Collins says: “Let me thank you so much for the endorsement and tell you how truly grateful I am for your support, for the league’s support.”
The CCLM has campaigned against gay and lesbian rights since the 90s, and has in recent years turned its attention towards campaigning against the rights of transgender people in Maine, according to the Maine Beacon.
LGBT+ rights group EqualityMaine condemend Collins’ decision to accept the endorsement.
“The election is two weeks away, and Susan Collins isn’t even pretending to be a moderate anymore,” EqualityMaine said.
“She’s ‘truly grateful’ for the support of radical extremists like Michael Heath and the Christian Civic League.”
Gia Drew, program director at EqualityMaine, said Collins’ enthusiastic acceptance of the League’s endorsement is telling.
“The Christian Civic League has a long history of opposing virtually all LGBTQ issues and laws and policies,” Drew said. “And so when they came out enthusiastically in support of Susan Collins, I think it really shows where Susan Collins is, her true colours.”