Bil Browning

Republican Senator Collins Doesn't Know

Filed By Bil Browning | September 28, 2011 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA, gay marriage, marriage equality, Metroweekly, Respect for Marriage Act, RMA, same-sex marriage, Susan Collins

On September 20, the Log Cabin Republicans had a big shin-dig to honor Republican Senator Susan Collins for her prominent role in the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. On October 5, the Victory Fund will recognize her at their 11th Gay & Lesbian Leadership Awards.

But when Metroweekly reporter asked the Senator about the repeal of DOMA and the Respect for Marriage Act, she had no idea what he was talking about. She wasn't even aware how DOMA affected LGB couples.

But, speaking with Metro Weekly at LCR's Sept. 20 dinner, Collins had no view on the bill and claimed to be unaware of the impact of Section 3 of DOMA -- which defines "marriage" and "spouse" in federal law as referring only to marriages between one man and one woman.

Asked about and given a brief description of the RMA, Collins said, "I was going to say, I'm not sure what the Respect for Marriage Act is." She then added that she would "have to look at that."

Collins then said that she hadn't "looked at" the federal limits on marriage recognition put in place by DOMA, stating that she was not aware of how Section 3 of DOMA impacts same-sex couples.

Collins's comments are particularly confusing given that she was the sole Republican Senate co-sponsor of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act in the 111th Congress, a bill to extend health insurance benefits to federal employees in same-sex relationships -- legislation made necessary by Section 3 of DOMA.

Still, Collins was instrumental in the repeal of DADT and is a co-sponsor of ENDA. Now that Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has co-sponsored the RMA and Collins is aware of the legislation, do you think she'll be the first Republican to co-sponsor it in the Senate?

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I really cannot fathom how she could not know the correlation between DOMA and same-sex couples. DOMA was created to prevent same-sex marriage. Period. So my gut impulse is to say that she probably said those remarks because she was somehow caught off guard by the situation and didn't think before she spoke (a process that many politicians go through, apparently).

I digress; as an answer to the proposed question, I would have to say that it is a very logical assumption the she will be the first Republican in the Senate to co-sponsor the bill. Given that her assistance in the overturning of DADT has already made her a minor social pariah in the eyes of the Republicans, the next logical (and again, politicians are rarely logical)path.

*that is the next logical (and again, politicians are rarely logical) path.

While it may be true that Senator Collins is not the brightest bulb that my state has sent to Capital hill, she has a history of bipartisanship that can be a bit rare. Altogether too often, her aisle crossing comes at the expense of the 'teeth' of whatever legislation that she is 'collaborating' on, but it could be better than nothing.

I want to be surprised about her lac of knowledge, or at least preperation, but I am not. I've always found her to be a bit more smile than smarts.

Could be worse.

In reality, smiling over smarts is still better than hate speech. I'd take republicans like Collins a million times over than anyone from the Tea Party.