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LGBT Advocates ‘Disappointed’ Bruce Poliquin Switched Vote

Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine’s 2nd District is drawing fire for a last-minute decision to change his vote on a measure that would have prohibited federal contractors from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The measure failed by a single vote and Poliquin is being assailed by civil rights advocacy groups and by his Democratic opponent in his bid for re-election.

Initially, Poliquin had joined other members of the U.S. House in approving language protecting members of the LGBT community as part of an amendment to a spending bill for the Department of Veterans Affairs and military construction projects. The amendment barred contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers.

Then GOP leaders held the vote open and pressured their members to change their votes. When the results were recorded, Poliquin was among seven Republicans who had switched an affirmative vote to a no.

Matt Moonen, executive director of Equality Maine, said he was shocked by the congressman’s reversal.

“It is extremely disappointing,” Moonen says. “Maine has had nondiscrimination in our law for more than 10 years and we would hope and expect that our representatives in Washington would be keeping that in mind and representing the will of Maine people, and the will of the Maine people is very clear on this issue.”

Democrats on the House floor reportedly began shouting “shame, shame,” after the vote, according The Hill, which covers the activities of Congress. Moonen agreed with them, saying Poliquin will have to answer to Mainers when he returns home.

“His vote is very disappointing and we will certainly be letting his office know that and we would hope that many people across Maine would let his office know how disappointed they are that he would be the deciding vote in favor of maintaining discrimination against LGBT people on the federal level — that’s just incredibly disappointing,” he says.

Poliquin, who is mounting his first re-election effort this fall, was also taken to task by his Democratic opponent, Emily Cain. The former state lawmaker from Orono says Maine people could always rely on her to be honest and open about her beliefs and her votes.

“This is politics at its absolute worst,” Cain says. “Congressman Poliquin changed his vote and he didn’t even have the courage to do it in public. Discrimination is bad for the economy in Maine and everywhere and discrimination is just bad period. I have always and will always stand against discrimination of any kind.”

Calls made to Poliquin’s office were not returned by air time.