BY HENRY C. JACKSON, ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON -- Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she now supports gay marriage, becoming the third Senate Republican to do so.
Murkowski says she believes same-sex marriage will encourage family values. She says she supports the right of all Americans to marry the person they love.
She says allowing gay marriage "keeps politicians out of the most private and personal aspects of peoples' lives."
Murkowski previously said she was "evolving" on the issue. She announced her decision in an opinion piece posted on her website Wednesday.
Two other GOP senators - Mark Kirk of Illinois and Rob Portman of Ohio - previously announced their support for gay marriage. Forty-nine Democratic senators, including Bill Nelson of Florida, and two independents senators also back gay marriage. Two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin, of West Virginia and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, remain opposed.