Is Snowe’s Retirement a Blow to LGBT-Friendly Republicans?
Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe’s announcement on Tuesday that she will not seek re-election after more than three decades on Capitol Hill certainly sent shockwaves across Washington, D.C. What does it exactly mean to LGBT-friendly Republicans?
Snowe is among the six Republicans in the U.S. Senate who voted for a bill that repealed the military’s ban on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers. She is also a co-sponsor of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The vast majority of her Republican colleagues were obviously unwilling to meet her in the middle on these issues.
"As I enter a new chapter, I see a vital need for the political center in order for our democracy to flourish and to find solutions that unite rather than divide us," she said in a statement that discussed her decision. "It is time for change in the way we govern, and I believe there are unique opportunities to build support for that change from outside the U.S. Senate."
The Republican Party certainly does not leave much room for moderation on LGBT issues. There are, however, obvious exceptions to this opposition from within the party both inside and outside the Beltway.
Maine Sen. Susan Collins described ’don’t ask, don’t tell’ as a "stinky law that became more odious with every application" during the Log Cabin Republicans’ national dinner in Washington, D.C., on the same day that it’s repeal became official in September. Former Vice President Dick Cheney reportedly lobbied Maryland Republicans to support the marriage equality law that Gov. Martin O’Malley signed on Thursday, while former Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman also sought GOP support for the legislation. He also spoke out against a bill that would repeal the Granite State’s marriage equality law in an op-ed that the New Hampshire Union Leader published in January.