Half the U.S. Senate now supports marriage equality for gays and lesbians.
Two more U.S. senators, Democrat Tom Carper of Delaware and Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois, announced Tuesday they now support gay marriage.
Kirk became the second sitting Republican senator after Rob Portman of Ohio to announce his support. From his Senate blog:
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.
Here's the news statement from HRC:
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today celebrated the announcements by Sens. Tom Carper, Democrat of Delaware, and Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois, that they support marriage equality. Kirk is the second current Republican Senator to support marriage for gay and lesbian couples and with his announcement, half of the United States Senate supports marriage equality. Both Kirk and Carper represent states where legislatures are currently considering marriage equality bills.
HRC President Chad Griffin issued the following statement:
“Senator Kirk and Senator Carper have shown tremendous leadership in announcing their support for marriage equality. It is a sign of our progress that so many of their colleagues are showing the same political will. Democrat or Republican, there can simply be no excuse for standing on the wrong side of history when it comes to this basic question of justice.”
Here's the AP story about Kirk's decision:
CHICAGO -- GOP Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois said Tuesday he supports same-sex marriage, becoming the second sitting Republican senator to make such an announcement in recent weeks.
Kirk, who previously opposed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, said in a post on his blog that "same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage."
"Our time on this Earth is limited, I know that better than most," said Kirk, who suffered a stroke in January 2012. "Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back - government has no place in the middle."
Kirk went through months of rehabilitation before returning to work in Washington this January. He said in his blog post that when he went back to the Senate he promised himself he would return "with an open mind and greater respect for others."
Kirk is Illinois' ranking Republican lawmaker. His announcement comes less than three weeks after Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio became the first Republican in the Senate to say he supported gay marriage.
Kirk previously voted to end the policy barring gays from openly serving in the military, known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." He's a lead co-sponsor of a bill to ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, and has opposed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
He also supported Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady after Brady announced his support for same-sex marriage earlier this year. When some members of the state central committee attempted to oust Brady, Kirk said Brady had his full support.