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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 CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress inches closer to virus relief deal Lawmakers pressure leaders to reach COVID-19 relief deal Biden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him 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 John TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech MORE in the Senate and her vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughGOP senators back Christian school's push for COVID-19 carve-out Supreme Court sees new requests for religious COVID-19 carve-outs For Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court upholds religious liberty 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 McConnellOn The Money: Unemployment gains lower than expected | Jobs report lights fire under coronavirus relief talks GOP senators back Christian school's push for COVID-19 carve-out Bipartisan governors call on Congress to pass coronavirus relief package 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."