Round-Up: Statements of support for the freedom to marry from U.S. Senators
April 05, 2013
So far in 2013, over a dozen U.S. Senators announced that they support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, and now, a growing majority of the U.S. Senate - 54 Senators - publicly support marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Here are the statements from all of the Senators who have spoken out this year in favor of marriage:
Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD)
"My views have evolved sufficiently to support marriage equality."
Senator Johnson issued a statement on April 8 about his support for the freedom to marry. He said: "After lengthy consideration, my views have evolved sufficiently to support marriage equality legislation. This position doesn't require any religious denomination to alter any of its tenets; it simply forbids government from discrimination regarding who can marry whom."
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
"The makeup of families is changing, but the importance of family is enduring."
Senator Heitkamp issued a statement on April 5 about her support for marriage. She added: "In speaking with North Dakotans from every corner of our great state, and much personal reflection, I have concluded the federal government should no longer discriminate against people who want to make lifelong, loving commitments to each other or interfere in personal, private, and intimate relationships. I view the ability of anyone to marry as a logical extension of this belief."
Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
"I have concluded that the right thing to do is to support marriage equality for all."
Senator Donnelly announced his support on Facebook on April 5. He said: "In recent years, our country has been involved in an important discussion on the issue of marriage equality. While serving in the House of Representatives, I had the opportunity to act on a core belief of mine: we are a stronger country when we draw on the strengths of all Americans. I voted to repeal ‘don't ask, don't tell' and was an original supporter of the bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against someone in the workplace because of their sexual orientation. It is also for that reason that I oppose amending either Indiana's or our nation's constitution to enshrine in those documents an ‘us' and a ‘them,' instead of a ‘we.' With the recent Supreme Court arguments and accompanying public discussion of same-sex marriage, I have been thinking about my past positions and votes. In doing so, I have concluded that the right thing to do is to support marriage equality for all."
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)
"Civil rights and responsibilities for one must pertain to all."
Senator Nelson spoke with The Tampa Bay Times about his support for marriage on April 4. He said he believed "That All Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness," and explained, "I believe that. The civil rights and responsibilities for one must pertain to all. Thus, to discriminate against one class and not another is wrong for me. If we are endowed by our Creator with rights, then why shouldn't those be attainable by Gays and Lesbians? Simply put, if The Lord made homosexuals as well as heterosexuals, why should I discriminate against their civil marriage? I shouldn't, and I won't. So I will add my name to the petition of senators asking the Supreme Court to declare the law that prohibits gay marriage unconstitutional."
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)
"Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back. Government has no place in the middle."
Republican Senator Kirk wrote about his support on his blog on April 2. He wrote: "When I climbed the Capitol steps in January, I promised myself that I would return to the Senate with an open mind and greater respect for others. Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage. Our time on this earth is limited, I know that better than most. Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back. Government has no place in the middle."
Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE)
"All Americans ultimately should be free to marry the people they love and intend to share their lives with, regardless of their sexual orientation, and that's why today, after a great deal of soul searching, I'm endorsing marriage equality."
Senator Carper posted his support on Facebook on April 2, where he added: "As our society has changed and evolved, so too has the public's opinion on gay marriage – and so has mine. I pray every day for God to grant me the wisdom to do what is right. Through my prayers and conversations with my family and countless friends and Delawareans, I've been reminded of the power of one of my core values: the Golden Rule. It calls on us to treat others as we want to be treated."
Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)
"After much deliberation and after reviewing the legal, public policy and civil-rights questions presented, I support marriage equality for same-sex couples and believe that DOMA should be repealed."
Senator Casey continued, in a statement to Philadelphia Gay News on April 1, that part of his evolution stemmed from many conversations with LGBT Pennsylvanians and their families. He said: "These stories had a substantial impact on my position on this issue. If two people of the same sex fall in love and want to marry, why would our government stand in their way? At a time when many Americans lament a lack of commitment in our society between married men and women, why would we want less commitment and fewer strong marriages? If two people of the same sex want to raise children, why would our government prevent them from doing so, especially when so many children have only one parent or none at all?"
Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC)
"After conversations I've had with family members, with people I go to church with and with North Carolinians from all walks of life, I've come to my own personal conclusion that we should not tell people who they can love, or who they can marry. It's time to move forward with this issue."
Kagan's full statement from March 27: "I know there are strong feelings on both sides, and I have a great deal of respect for their opinions. But after much thought and prayer on my part this is where I am today. I know all our families do not look alike. We all want the same thing for our families. We want happiness, we want health, prosperity, a bright future for our children and grandchildren."
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA)
"I believe all people, regardless of sexual orientation, should be guaranteed the full rights to the legal benefits and responsibilities of marriage under the Constitution."
He issued the statement to The Times-Dispatch in Richmond, VA on March 26, to which he added, "I hope the Supreme Court will affirm that principle."
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
"I'm against discrimination in all its forms, and I think we can move forward in our progress toward true equality by repealing DOMA."
Senator Rockefeller issued a statement on his support on March 26. He said: "Like so many of my generation, my views on allowing gay couples to marry have been challenged in recent years by a new, more open generation. Churches and ministers should never have to perform marriages that violate their religious beliefs, but the government shouldn't discriminate against people who want to marry just because of their gender ... Younger people in West Virginia and even my own children have grown up in a much more equal society and they rightly push us to question old assumptions - to think deeply about what it means for all Americans to be created equal. This has been a process for me, but at this point I think it's clear that DOMA is discriminatory."
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT)
"I'm proud to support marriage equality because no one should be able to tell a Montanan or any American who they can love and who they can marry."
Sen. Tester announced support on Facebook on March 26, where he also said, "Montanans believe in the right to make a good life for their families. How they define a family should be their business and their business alone."
Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK)
"Gay and lesbian couples should not be denied the ability to pledge their love and commitment through the civil institution of marriage."
The Senator confirmed his support to Buzzfeed on March 26, to whom he added, "I believe that two committed adults of the same sex should be able to receive a government-issued marriage license, while religious institutions retain their right to determine which marriages they will perform."
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)
"I support marriage equality because it is the fair and right thing to do."
The Senator took to Facebook to announce his support for marriage on March 25. He explained: "Like many Virginians and Americans, my views on gay marriage have evolved, and this is the inevitable extension of my efforts to promote equality and opportunity for everyone. I was proud to be the first Virginia governor to extend anti-discrimination protections to LGBT state workers. In 2010, I supported an end to the military's ‘don't ask, don't tell' policy, and earlier this month I signed an amicus brief urging the repeal of DOMA. I believe we should continue working to expand equal rights and opportunities for all Americans."
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
"Supporting marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is simply the right thing to do for our country, a country founded on the principals of liberty and equality."
Her statement, which she published on Tumblr on March 24, also said: "I have come to the conclusion that our government should not limit the right to marry based on who you love. While churches should never be required to conduct marriages outside of their religious beliefs, neither should the government tell people who they have a right to marry. ... My views on this subject have changed over time, but as many of my gay and lesbian friends, colleagues and staff embrace long term committed relationships, I find myself unable to look them in the eye without honestly confronting this uncomfortable inequality.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)
"I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn't deny them the opportunity to get married."
Sen. Portman wrote an editorial in The Columbus Dispatch on March 15 explaining his support for the freedom to marry and referencing his son, who is gay, as one motivation for speaking out. He wrote, in part: "Two years ago, my son Will, then a college freshman, told my wife, Jane, and me that he is gay. He said he’d known for some time, and that his sexual orientation wasn’t something he chose; it was simply a part of who he is. Jane and I were proud of him for his honesty and courage. We were surprised to learn he is gay but knew he was still the same person he’d always been. The only difference was that now we had a more complete picture of the son we love. At the time, my position on marriage for same-sex couples was rooted in my faith tradition that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman. Knowing that my son is gay prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective: that of a dad who wants all three of his kids to lead happy, meaningful lives with the people they love, a blessing Jane and I have shared for 26 years. I wrestled with how to reconcile my Christian faith with my desire for Will to have the same opportunities to pursue happiness and fulfillment as his brother and sister. Ultimately, it came down to the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God."