As a young girl in Cambodia, my mom spent her childhood on the run was even forced into human trafficking. And like the immigrant families who were dehumanized, separated, and traumatized by the Trump administration; I, too, know what it feels like to be separated from your family – I was separated from my single mother at the age of 9 and placed in foster care and adopted by a white working class family in rural Maine.
The Trump administration’s policies have hit far too close to home on too many issues. This amoral administration is waging a war on LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights, women’s rights and civil rights. And the last thing we need is another rubber stamp for the Trump agenda on the Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh’s record on immigrants rights and women’s rights is as clear as day. For instance, just last year, he wanted to keep an undocumented teenager from exercising her right to end an unwanted pregnancy. When the D.C. Circuit Court ruled in favor of the undocumented teen, Kavanaugh wrote a scathing dissent saying that the court should have made her wait. I can only imagine what he would do with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. That’s why I’m here to say No, Kavanaugh!
You know, growing up in Maine, I was taught that you are responsible for your actions. I don’t believe that is any different for America. But I heard recently from a conservative talk show host that, and I quote, “We are not responsible for the entire world and all of its violence and problems.” Or when Vice-President Mike Pence said, and I quote, “Just as we respect your borders and your sovereignty, we insist that you respect ours.”
But this is simply not true. US involvement in countries like El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, whether it was regime change, arms shipments, or the war on drugs, has helped destabilize these countries and create a global refugee crisis. Many of these migrants and asylum seekers are women and children who not only see America as the land of opportunity, but a promised land where they can raise their families and kids free from fear and violence.
Women and girls, especially, are fleeing gender-based violence. In El Salvador, for example, women and/or girls were killed in sexual gender based violence every 16 hours in 2015. In Honduras, gender-based violence is the second leading cause of death for women of reproductive age. And, in Guatemala, two women are murdered each and every day.
We tell the world we’re the promised land where democracy, freedom, and tolerance thrive. But the Trump Administration is engaged in a full-scale assault on American values, American institutions, and American democracy. And so in opposing Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, I think it is as equally important to lay claim to what we believe as Mainers and as Americans.
We believe in that American creed, e pluribus unum, that from many, we are one. Is this what you believe?
We believe that diversity is what makes our nation strong and beautiful; no matter where you’re from, who you worship, the color or your skin, or who you love, we all make America strong. We all make beautiful. Is this what you believe?
We believe that America is a nation of laws; where we respect the rule of law and not the rule of a single man or the wealthy few. Is this what you believe?
America was founded on a system of checks and balances, which includes the Senate and the Supreme Court, that is supposed to serve as a safeguard against tyranny and fascism. Is this what you believe?
We believe that the times demand the courage of our convictions; and that we live in a time that demands that we, as Mainers, as Americans, stand up for each other. Will you stand with LGBTQ people? Will you stand with women? Will you stand with immigrants?
We live in a time that demands that we stand up for freedom. Will you stand with me?
We live in a time that demands that we stand up for equality. Will you stand with me?
We live in a time that demands that we stand up for democracy. Will you stand with me?
So Senator Collins, we need you. Maine needs you. America needs you. Just like we needed you when you voted to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; when you voted against repealing ObamaCare; and when you voted to protect funding for Planned Parenthood.
Sneator Collins, you are part of that system of checks and balances. And your vote to reject Brett Kavanaugh will not only protect LGBTQ people, women, civil rights, and immigrants; your vote will protect American values and American democracy.
This is your moment, Senator Collins. Will you go down in history as a senator in the molds of Margaret Chase Smith or Ed Muskie, or will you be complicit in President Trump’s undermining of the courts and the institutions that safeguard our democracy. This is your moment!
Senator Collins, can you hear us? We’re here to say No, Kavanaugh!