Watch: Sen. Susan Collins 'Truly Grateful' for Support from Anti-LGBTQ Group

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday October 23, 2020

Sen. Susan Collins
Sen. Susan Collins  (Source:Al Drago / Pool via AP)

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has declared herself to be "truly grateful" for the endorsement of an anti-LGTBQ group in her home state, The Huffington Post reports.

Collins was interviewed in a "Candid Conversation" on Oct. 13 by the head of the Christian Civic League of Maine, Carroll Conley. The group has opposed LGBTQ equality, including marriage, and promoted so-called "conversion therapy," a widely denounced practice that purports to "cure" LGBTQ people and "turn" them into heterosexuals.

The Civic League gave its endorsement to Collins' re-election bid against challenger Sara Gideon. Despite the Civic League's record of anti-LGBTQ stances, and even though she had been an early advocate of marriage equality, Collins told Conley how appreciative she was to have won the group's backing, the Huffington Post reported.

"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," Collins said.

The Maine Beacon called out the endorsement and Collins' expression of thanks, noting that the Civic League "has waged a series of often-caustic referendum campaigns over the past several decades opposing LGBTQ rights."

The Beacon recalled that, "In addition to running anti-same-sex marriage referendum campaigns in 2009 and 2013," the group had waged an intelligence-gathering war on state lawmakers, looking for " 'tips, rumors, speculation and facts' about the sexual orientation of Maine legislators, hoping to out gay political figures."

"More recently, the League has targeted transgender children, launching online campaigns against school districts who put in place protections against discrimination in line with a 2014 court ruling protecting the rights of transgender Mainers," the Beacon added.

The newspaper noted that Carroll stated in the interview that the group's backing was not "casual." ""We want you to know that our endorsement of Susan Collins is an enthusiastic endorsement," he said.

Media sources noted that the organization has ties to two known hate groups, Alliance Defending Freedom - which pursues legal challenges to LGBTQ equality - and the Family Research Council.

Collins' gratitude did not go unnoticed by equality advocates. The Human Rights Campaign issued a release in which spokesperson Lucas Acosta said, "Collins has again chosen to pander to the far-right.... It is impossible to reconcile welcoming the endorsement of an organization that sought to out Maine legislators, opposes marriage equality and that actively demeans and attacks transgender children with Collins' previously expressed views."

While Collins won the endorsement of the Civic League, she had already lost that of LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Maine, which endorsed Gideon last month, saying that "again and again, Susan Collins has been a disappointment."

Among those disappointments: Collins' refusal to support a a number of bills that would extend federal protections to LGBTQ people, such as the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, "would prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people in foster care and adoption services," the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which "would require schools to adopt LGBTQ-inclusive policies on bullying and harassment," and the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, which "would officially classify the harmful and discredited practice of conversion therapy as fraud."

Collins' voting record in recent years has dismayed equality advocates in other ways, reported the Huffington Post, which recalled that she has "voted to confirm dozens of judges who have espoused anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ views."

Among those controversial judicial appointments is that of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court bench, which Collins voted for in 2018.

Watch Collins' "Candid Conversation" with Carroll below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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