Two Senate Republicans have already come out for marriage equality — Rob Portman of Ohio and Mark Kirk of Illinois — but maybe a third is near?
Consider the curious case of Susan Collins, the moderate from Maine. Voters in her state in 2012 overturned a ban on same-sex marriage by 53% to 47%, and gays and lesbians now can marry there. And Collins has a long record of supporting LGBT causes in the Senate, starting with voting against amending the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Still, she vaguely told the Associated Press as recently as Wednesday when asked if she supports marriage equality that, "My philosophy has been to stay out of state issues."
Collins is also one of eight Republican senators to vote for repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." Among those eight were Kirk and former Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, who announced on Friday that she too supports marriage equality. "Though there remain strongly held views on both sides of the issue, we’ve seen a significant change in society’s attitude on this matter, and so it is only natural for our representative government to be responsive to those changes," Snowe told the Associated Press. "That is why I supported the referendum in Maine last November permitting marriage between same-sex couples."
Snowe's successor in the Senate is independent Angus King, who also supports marriage equality. Maine's two representatives in the House are both Democrats, Chellie Pingree and Michael Michaud, and they too support marriage equality.
Collins is up for reelection next year. And the most recent statement from her spokesman, given on Wednesday to Metro Weekly after the AP's story left lingering questions about whether Collins opposes marriage equality, only adds to the confusion about why Collins has not said she supports marriage equality.
In it, she appears to call out the Obama administration for not pressing for marriage equality in all 50 states, while continuing to remain mum herself and saying only that marriage equality should be decided by the states.
"One issue Senator Collins has raised it that the Administration's complex legal brief filed earlier this year calls for the invalidation of California's ban on same-sex marriages," her spokesman told Metro Weekly. "It would have implications for several other states, but the brief curiously does not challenge the prohibition on same-sex marriages in some 30 states that do not recognize domestic partnerships. Senator Collins will carefully follow the Supreme Court's consideration of this important issue."