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Lisa Murkowski Becomes Third GOP Senator To Endorse Same-Sex Marriage

Following in the footsteps of Ohio’s Mark Portman and Illinois Mark Kirk, Lisa Murkowski has become the third Republican Senator to endorse same-sex marriage:

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said Wednesday that she supports legalizing same-sex marriage, becoming the third GOP member of the Senate to endorse the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Days before the Supreme Court is set to issue decisions regarding the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s ban on same-sex marriage, Murkowski joined Republican Sens. Rob Portman, Ohio, and Mark Kirk, Ill., in supporting same-sex marriage.

Murkowski’s news was announced by the Human Rights Campaign, the major gay rights organization based in Washington.

“We hope other fair-minded conservatives like Senator Murkowski stand up and join her,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “Alaska may be nicknamed ‘the Last Frontier,’ but we’ve got to make sure that LGBT Alaskans don’t have to wait to find justice.”

Murkowski had previously said her views on same-sex marriage were “evolving,” using the language President Barack Obama had once used to describe his own views before endorsing marriage rights. She had been one of the few Republicans to support the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

A veteran GOP senator, Murkowski has become somewhat unmoored from the rest of the Republican conference in the Senate following her re-election in 2010. After having lost the Republican nomination in Alaska to Tea Party favorite Joe Miller, Murkowski waged an unusual, independent write-in campaign, which she rode to re-election – a rare feat in politics. Since returning to the Senate, she has conferenced with the rest of the GOP.

I expect this will be the last Republican Senator we’ll hear from on this issue for the time being. Red state Senators are unlikely to stray from the GOP platform on this issue any time soon, and Senators in more “purple” states are likely to play it safe for the moment to avoid alienating the base of their party. What will be interesting to see, of course, is how the Supreme Court rules in its same-sex marriage cases, which we should know no later than June 27th, and what impact that has on the political zeitgeist on this issue.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Surreal American says:

    RINO!!!

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  2. stonetools says:

    I expect this will be the last Republican Senator we’ll hear from on this issue for the time being.

    Oh, I don’t know. As one Twitter response to the announcement said: Paging Susan Collins!
    I’m betting that she will, er, come out of the closet soon-probably after SCOTUS overturns DOMA. I’m betting that there is also one more Republican Senator that has a loved one who is gay. But five is most likely the upper limit on pro-marriage equality Republican Senators. It must suck to have to vote for a party that has bigotry written into its party platform.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  3. de stijl says:

    Here’s how sad the Rs have become – I’m halfway impressed that 3 of them actually had the basic human decency to treat their fellow citizens as fully human beings.

    Had it been ten of them I might actually think there was a smidgen of hope for the GOP. Heck, even a half dozen of the House members stepping up would have made a difference.

    As deeply, profoundly flawed as LBJ was, at the end of the day he understood that he would be judged by history by the way he dealt with extending practical & enforceable civil rights to black Americans regardless of the political cost. I (and hopefully others) am judging the current Republicans for how they are dealing with the same issue today.

    There are times of moral inflection – when you can do the right thing or you can do the expedient thing. I wish I could be more hopeful, but I know how they are going to decide.

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  4. @stonetools:

    I had admittedly forgotten about Susan Collins.

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  5. Caj says:

    She realizes that it’s in her own best interests to sign on. The country is moving forward but no doubt she will get vilified for agreeing with what most people agree on. Those Republicans who refuse to move forward will go the way of the dinosaur. Not only are they out of touch on same sex marriage they are still decrying women! Not really wanting immigration reform as well. It’s like 2012 never happened! The people spoke loud and clear what they thought about Republican policies and the country rejected them. Yet they carry on with same old crap just like they never heard a thing! Stupid is as stupid does apparently!

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