Saturday, March 8, 2014
Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Cynthia Dill held a brief rally on the steps of Portland City Hall Wednesday to applaud the inclusion of same-sex marriage rights into the national Democratic party platform.
The press event followed a recent unanimous decision by the party's drafting committee to include marriage equality into the policy platform. The platform will be adopted during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Dill, who has been a frequent critic of independent Angus King during the senate campaign, said that the Democratic party's commitment to gay rights showed that party affiliation was important. She said Democrats "walk the talk" when it comes to equal rights.
"Democrats take deliberate and thoughtful action when it comes to protecting Americans' civil liberties, not just platitudes," she said.
Dill is considered a long shot to defeat independent and Republican Charlie Summers in November. However, if elected, she said she would side with Democrats and President Obama in repealing the Defensive of Marriage Act, or DOMA, a law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.
King is backing the referendum effort to legalize same-sex marriage in Maine. Summers does not.
King said Wednesday that he "probably" would support the repeal of DOMA.
"I'm not in favor of Congress telling people who they should marry," King said. "I'm a conservative."
In a prepared statement, Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster said Dill's press conference showed her and the Democratic party's misplaced priorities.
"At a time when people can't find work, Cynthia Dill, Barack Obama, and the Democratic Party have made homosexual marriage the most important part of their agenda," Webster said. "I want to know what they've done about jobs lately."
Webster also blasted Dale McCormick, a Dill supporter who recently resigned from the Maine State Housing Authority after a protracted and highly political battle with Republican state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, the Maine Heritage Policy Center and board members appointed by Gov. Paul LePage who were hostile to her leadership.
Webster said McCormick was an "extreme liberal activist" and a bureaucrat who spent "thousands of taxpayer dollars on karate lessons, magicians, messages, lavish hotels and donations to liberal activist groups."
Ben Grant, chairman of the Maine Democratic Party, took issue with Webster's comments, saying Maine Republican should "look in the mirror" when talking about job growth. Maine, he said, has lost 1,300 jobs under Gov. Paul LePage and is one of seven states with a shrinking economy.
Grant said the Obama administration could tout 27 straight months of private sector job growth.
"Under Democratic leadership people will have the freedom to marry the people they love and experience economic opportunity," he said.
It may seem odd that the Maine GOP would attack Dill, who is polling a distant third in the U.S. Senate race. However, GOP operatives have acknowledged that she needs to perform better in order to siphon Democratic support from King.
Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.