Major LGBTQ rights group endorses Collins opponent for the first time in decades

Major LGBTQ rights group endorses Collins opponent for the first time in decades
© Bonnie Cash

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) on Wednesday endorsed Maine Speaker of the House Sara Gideon (D), who is challenging Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection Hillicon Valley — Presented by Connected Commerce Council — Incident reporting language left out of package Language requiring companies to report cyberattacks left out of defense bill MORE (R-Maine), marking the first time the LGBTQ rights group has endorsed an opponent of Collins's since 1996, when she was first elected.

The group has previously repeatedly endorsed the incumbent Maine senator, citing her more moderate record on LGBTQ issues such as her support for the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and in 2014 said she had played a “pivotal role in advancing support for LGBT equality.”

However, in its new endorsement of Gideon, who clinched the Democratic nomination Tuesday night, the group excoriated Collins's failure to buck President TrumpDonald TrumpSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Senate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection MORE in the Senate and her vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughTrump considered withdrawing Kavanaugh nomination over beer comments, being 'too apologetic': Meadows book GOP Sen. Braun says abortion laws should be left up to states Neil Gorsuch's terrifying paragraph MORE. Her vote to confirm Kavanaugh, who was accused to sexual assault during his confirmation process, made her a major Democratic target for 2020.

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“We are fighting for our lives and the only way to advance LGBTQ equality through the United States Senate is to install a new pro-equality majority leader and replace Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer tees up key Thursday vote on debt deal House approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale MORE,” HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement.

“Despite Susan Collins’ record of support on certain key LGBTQ issues, her support of Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump’s agenda, endorsement of Brett M. Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court and failure to hold Donald Trump accountable, is simply untenable,” David added.

".@SaraGideon will support pro-equality leadership in the Senate that will help us move our country forward by passing the #EqualityAct & live up to the principles of our democracy," David said in a tweet, referencing a bill that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The endorsement came after two other major liberal organizations, Planned Parenthood and the League of Conservation Voters, endorsed Gideon before the Tuesday primary.

Collins faces a tough challenger in Gideon, with the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan newsletter that analyzes campaigns and elections, rating the race as a "toss up."