USA: Two More Democratic Senators Support Marriage Equality; Ten More to Go

Written by scott on March 26th, 2013

Gay WeddingJust today, two more Senate dems decided to endorse marriage equality, bringing the tally this week to five. Maddow Blog reports:

The march towards marriage equality among Democrats is quickly becoming a stampede. Sen. Jon Tester (D) of Montana posted this message to his Facebook page this afternoon: “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. 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.”

The Washington Blade reports that Tim Kaine (D-VA) also took the leap:

In a statement to the Washington Blade, Kaine echoed a remark made this week to the Times Dispatch of Richmond. “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,” Kaine’s statement reads. “I hope the Supreme Court will affirm that principle.”

One GOP Senator appeared to have flipped on the issue, but he quickly quashed the reports:

A recent report from Tennessee’s Chattanooga Times Free Press appeared to indicate Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican, now supports same-sex marriage. That’s not the case, though, according to a Sessions spokesman. The aide contacted The Advocate on Tuesday to affirm that the senator’s position on the legal definition of marriage has not changed — in other words, marriage should be legally defined as a union between a man and a woman, according to the 66-year-old senator from Selma.

Over in the House, a California Democrat flew the rainbow flag, Pink News reports:

On the first day of arguments around two cases around equal marriage at the US Supreme Court, an Orange Country Representative has flown the rainbow flag to show his support for marriage equality. Representative Alan Lowenthal of Long Beech, planted the rainbow gay pride flag outside of his congerssional office, next to the US flag and the State of California flag. “My intention is to fly this flag until marriage equality is the law of the land,” he said.

And another House representative, this one from Texas, spoke out for marriage equality, the Dallas Voice says:

Freshman Congressman Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, reminded his North Texas constituents Tuesday that he is committed to fighting for full equality for LGBT citizens. Veasey released the following statement today following the opening arguments in the Proposition 8 case before the U.S. Supreme Court. “As the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, I would like to reaffirm my commitment to the LGBT community,” the statement reads.

There are still 10 Democratic hold-outs in the Senate – members of a party that now whole-heartedly supports marriage equality, but who are too cowardly to stand up for what is right. The Huffington Post reports:

1. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) backs civil unions but not gay marriage. “In the past, Senator Casey has supported civil unions and he is closely following the debate around DOMA. He intends to thoroughly review any legislation on this when it comes before the Senate,” said Casey’s spokesman John Rizzo. Asked if the senator supports the repeal of DOMA, Rizzo simply repeated that Casey will review any legislation that comes before the Senate.

2. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) continues to back DOMA, in addition to opposing same-sex marriage. “Senator Manchin believes that a marriage is a union between one man and one woman. His beliefs are guided by his faith, and he supports the Defense of Marriage Act,” said Manchin spokeswoman Katie Longo.

3. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) has not publicly come out in support of marriage equality, although she did oppose North Carolina’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. In a statement last year, she said it would have “far-reaching negative consequences for our families, our children and our communities.” In 2008, Q-Notes also reported that Hagan said she believed the issue should be left up to the states to decide.

4. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) believes marriage is between a man and a woman. “Sen. Nelson strongly supports civil rights for same-sex couples, while believing marriage should be between a man and a woman,” Nelson spokesman Ryan Brown said in a statement. “The issue will likely be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court before the end of the year.”

5. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) supported allowing states to decide what to do about marriage but did not take a position beyond that. “Senator Heitkamp believes this should be handled on a state-by-state basis,” said Heitkamp’s communications director, Whitney Phillips.

6. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) has mostly shied away from discussing gay marriage in public, offering only her support for people’s right to “love who they love.” “I feel very strongly that people should be allowed to love who they love, but unfortunately my state has a very strong ban against gay marriage constitutionally, so I’m going to have to think really carefully and listen to the voters of my state about that issue,” Landrieu said. “But it’s very tough because I think most people believe that people should love who they love.” The Louisiana senator, who is up for reelection in 2014, voted against an amendment in 2006 that would place a constitutional ban of same-sex marriage, even though at the time she defined marriage as “a sacred union between one man and one woman.”

7. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) opposes DOMA and co-signed an amicus brief last much that urged the Supreme Court to invalidate Section 3 of that law. But the senator has yet to endorse same-sex marriage as a legal right. “Sen. Carper was proud to support Delaware’s efforts to enact Civil Union legislation and earlier this month he joined 211 of his Congressional colleagues in co-signing the Amicus brief that urges the Supreme Court to invalidate Section 3 of DOMA,” his office said in a statement. “He has also said that he would vote to repeal DOMA. He also opposed President Bush’s attempt to enact a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Like many Americans including Presidents Obama and Clinton, Sen. Carper’s views on this issue have evolved, and continue to evolve. He continues to give this issue a great deal of consideration.”

8. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) does not support same-sex marriage. “He has not changed his position on marriage equality,” Johnson’s office said. Asked if that meant he does support the right of a gay couple to marry, the office replied: “No.”

9. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) opposed same-sex marriage during the campaign. His office said it would send offer a statement of explanation for his current position, though it hadn’t done so by the time of publication.

10. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) does not support same-sex marriage. “Senator Pryor’s position on same-sex marriage has not changed,” said his spokeswoman, Lucy Speed. Was that opposed to gay marriage? “Yes,” she replied.

If you’re in one of these states, call your Senator and urge them to change their minds.


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