Writing in the Press Herald, Ken Mehlman discusses the months of hard work and compromise it took to secure bipartisan passage in both the Senate and the House. He lays much of the credit for the success of that work at Sen. Susan Collins’s doorstep- arguing that the Senator was a reliable and effective leader in support of this endeavor and many other endeavors like it.
He brings up the fact that, just as Maine has served as a national vanguard in LGBTQ rights, Collins herself has consistently worked to advance the causes of fairness and equal rights within the party of Lincoln. In 2010 she led the bipartisan effort to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and in 2015 she was one of only two sitting GOP U.S. Senators to lend her name to an amicus brief of prominent Republicans and Conservatives circulated that called on the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize same-sex unions on a nationwide basis.
Yet few circumstances better illustrate her leadership in action than what transpired in with the Respect for Marriage Act.
Not only did Collins lead the push to enshrine marriage equality into federal law by authoring the bill, she also skillfully worked with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to orchestrate adoption of an amendment with explicicit protections for religious liberties.
This is despite the criticism that a small, yet vocal, minority leveled at her.
Achieving passage of such a significant piece of legislation, such as the Respect for Marriage Act, ultimately begins and ends with the people in the room. Sen. Collins’ can-do commitment and desire to bring congressional leaders to the table has become an essential component for major reform in the U.S. Senate. For that, Mainers, and all Americans, should be thankful for her leadership in making the Respect for Marriage Act a reality.