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The Human Rights Campaign PAC will hold a reception Thursday night in New York City to honor U.S. senator Susan Collins of Maine for her instrumental leadership to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Last December the moderate Republican from Maine sponsored the stand-alone "don't ask, don't tell" repeal bill with independent U.S. senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. Seven other Republicans joined her in voting for repeal, which passed the Senate by a vote of 65 to 31.
Collins, who is up for reelection in 2014, also is the lead Republican sponsor of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, which would provide the same-sex domestic partners of federal employees with the benefits currently limited to different-sex spouses.
The New York Post's Page Six reports on the fund-raiser to be held at the Manhattan home of investment banker Paul Beirne. An invitation obtained by The Advocate shows that the bipartisan host committee also includes former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman; Mario J. Palumbo Jr., president of the board of directors of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center of New York; HRC national board of directors cochair Rebecca Tillet and board of governors member Patty Ellis; and many others.
The event occurs as advocates seek at least three Republican votes for the marriage equality bill in the New York state senate. Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to push for a vote on the bill by June, but no Republican senator yet publicly supports the measure, which failed the chamber by a 38-24 vote in 2009.
Asked for comment about the fundraiser, Brian Ellner, senior strategist for HRC in New York, said, "Eight Republicans in the U.S. Senate came through for us on 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal. Susan Collins was especially instrumental. Hopefully Republicans in the New York state senate will do the same on marriage equality later this spring."
Advocates already have demonstrated their ability to defeat three incumbent New York senators who voted against the marriage equality bill. The salute to Collins, for which entry costs $500 and up, shows their willingness to be generous to allies too.