Maine voters made history last Tuesday when they elected Angus King to the United States Senate and approved same-sex marriage. Both historic moments marked the culmination of hard-fought campaigns, but neither King nor marriage equality advocates had much time to rest after last week’s victories.
King announced on Wednesday that he would caucus with the Democrats, after discussions with Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, fellow Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, and other members of Congress. The Boston Globe reported yesterday that King hopes for a seat on the Senate Finance Committee, an assignment that is not typically given to freshmen senators.
Yesterday afternoon, King told the Orient that committee assignments are “very much up in the air” and will not likely be finalized for about a week, pending discussions between Senate Democrats and Republicans.
King said that his first priority will be to make the Senate work, through filibuster reform and a number of other changes.
“If we can’t get the Senate to work, then we can’t get to the other issues,” he said.
After that, King said, he will turn his attention to addressing fiscal issues. He noted that while some motions will be put forward to address the impending fiscal cliff during the lame duck session, there will still be much work to do after Congress convenes in January.
Now that same-sex marriage is legal in Maine, LGBT advocates still have their work cut out. Tim Diehl, board president of Equality Maine, one of the partners in the Mainers United for Marriage coalition, said the group is working to disseminate information on the new law.
“Equality Maine will be involved in insuring that the information is available about where and how to get marriage licenses,” said Diehl. “We will work also with the state legislature to insure the law is implemented as it was passed.”
Diehl said that Equality Maine is not an organization whose goal revolves entirely around marriage equality for same-sex couples. Its aims are more general.
“It’s an advocacy and civil right organization for LGBT people and their families. Marriage is but one issue we’re focused on. We’ll continue to focus on issues where discrimination or inequality exists,” he said.
Diehl said his organization will delve into other LGBT issues without fear of same-sex marriage being repealed.
“I think that issues like equality and social justice-related matters only become more positively perceived by voters over time,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine taking a step back with Maine voters on this issue.”
—Linda Kinstler contributed to this report.