Mark Kirk Becomes Second GOP Senator To Endorse Same-Sex Marriage

gaymarriage

Following on the heals of Rob Portman’s announcement last month, Illinois Senator Mark Kirk released a statement today in which he endorsed same-sex marriage:

Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk came out in support of marriage equality Tuesday shortly after the Supreme Court heard two potentially historic cases on gay rights.

“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,” Kirk wrote on his blog.

“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.”

Kirk is the second sitting Republican Senator to endorse marriage equality, following Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman last month.

The state senate in Illinois recently voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in the state in a vote on Valentine’s Day. Lawmakers in Illinois did not call the matter for a vote before they adjourned for their spring break.

Kirk, who voted to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, stated during a 2010 debate he supported civil unions.

“I oppose gay marriage and I support civil unions. But I also don’t think we should have a federal takeover of all marriage law in the United States. I think the federal government is already trying to take over too much,” Kirk said.

Kirk will likely not be the last GOP Senator to take this stance. Last week, Lisa Murkowski, who while officially an Independent caucuses with the GOP,  stated that her views on gay marriage were “evolving.” Additionally, there is much speculation that Maine’s Susan Collins, who faces re-election in 2014, is also likely to publicly support same-sex marriage in the near future. Beyond these, though, I’m not sure of any other GOP Senators who would be likely to publicly support marriage equality.

On the Democratic side, things are much different. Over the past several weeks, barely a day has gone by where we didn’t get an announcement from one or more Democratic Senators endorsing same-sex marriage. So far, only seven members of the Democratic Caucus have yet to state a position publicly, they are Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR). With the possible exception of Pryor, who faces re-election in 2014 in red-state Arkansas, I’d expect the rest of these Senators to jump on the bandwagon soon. Indeed, by the time 2016 rolls around, I doubt any person running for the Democratic nomination will have any other position on same-sex marriage other than complete support. On the Republican side, I think it’s possible that we’ll see one candidate, possibly more than one, who differs from the party’s current position on this issue, but absent some massive shift inside the GOP, it’s likely that most of the candidates will still be opposed to same-sex marriage, or take the position that it should be “left to the states.”

One thing this makes clear is that an effort to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, leaving aside for the moment its fate in the Supreme Court, would easily pass the Senate. The House may be more difficult, but even many Republicans have distanced themselves from the law in recent years.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Quick Takes, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
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 contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Doug, I think you may have lost the end of the next-to-last paragraph.

  2. Mikey says:

    I wonder how long it will be before some Republican attributes Kirk’s position to brain damage from his stroke.

  3. @Gromitt Gunn:

    Yea. Hit publish too soon. Fixed

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “I oppose gay marriage and I support civil unions. But I also don’t think we should have a federal takeover of all marriage law in the United States. I think the federal government is already trying to take over too much,” Kirk said.

    I don’t see any way this gets settled except on the Federal level. It is not just about taxes or SS survivor benefits. It is also about pensions. I had to marry my wife so she could get mine when I die. There is also the absolute absurdity of being married in one state but cross the state line and one is miraculously unmarried? What if one is at the 4 corners?

  5. Mikey says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    There is also the absolute absurdity of being married in one state but cross the state line and one is miraculously unmarried? What if one is at the 4 corners?

    “Married. Not married. Married. Not married. Married. Not married.”

    “Would you STOP THAT????”

  6. stonetools says:

    A Senate filibuster is certainly still possible.
    I expect the red state Democratic Senators to stay off the bandwagon a while longer: at least until there are at least 5 Republican Senators publicly on board. Dunno when that will happen.

  7. J-Dub says:

    @Mikey: It’s not cheating if you are in a state that doesn’t recognize your marriage. Nevada should’t recognize anyone’s marriages, gay or straight.

  8. Rafer Janders says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    There is also the absolute absurdity of being married in one state but cross the state line and one is miraculously unmarried?

    There are many Americans who live in one state but work in another, so you could have the absurdity of being married in the morning, single during the workday, and married again when you get home for the evening.

  9. Mikey says:

    @J-Dub: What happens in Vegas…

  10. Mikey says:

    @Rafer Janders: That’s certainly true in my area–DC and MD have same-sex marriage, VA does not, but plenty of people commute from DC and MD to VA to work.

    And actually, same-sex married couples are in a kind of Schroedinger’s marriage–simulataneously married AND unmarried, because the state in which they live recognizes their marriage but the Federal government does not.

  11. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Rafer Janders: And make sure you have your stroke and/or heart attack in MD instead of VA, or NY instead of PA…

  12. @OzarkHillbilly:

    There is also the absolute absurdity of being married in one state but cross the state line and one is miraculously unmarried? What if one is at the 4 corners?

    First Cousin marriages are legal in Colorado and New Mexico, but banned in Arizona and Utah.

    Does the fact a first cousin couple from Colorado has the same issue at the four corners mean Arizona and Utah are being absurd?

  13. Surreal American says:

    Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk came out in support of marriage equality…

    RINO.

  14. mantis says:

    @Mikey:

    Schroedinger’s marriage

    +1

  15. rudderpedals says:

    @Rafer Janders: I like this. The commuter is incentivized to an additional marriage, this one different sex for benefits only. I wonder if commuter is safe from bigamy charges in the different sex-only state?

  16. Sejanus says:

    @Surreal American: The difference is that in first cousin marriage you can still somewhat reasonably argue that the state has a legitimate interest in outlawing/not recognizing it (although I tend to think the case is slim).

  17. Surreal American says:

    @Sejanus:

    Not sure for whom that reply was meant.

  18. SoWhat says:

    “Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk came out in support of marriage equality”.

    Un, no he didn’t.

    He said that same-sex couples should have the right to CIVIL marriage.

    Very savvy on Kirk’s part—there is a difference between “marriage” and “civil marriage”.

  19. anjin-san says:

    But I also don’t think we should have a federal takeover of all marriage law in the United States.

    What we should have is equal protection under the law for gays/lesbians. I have yet to hear a coherent argument against that from a conservative. Instead we get nonsense about federal takeovers and 90 year old sisters getting married so one can have benefits.

  20. mantis says:

    @SoWhat:

    Very savvy on Kirk’s part—there is a difference between “marriage” and “civil marriage”.

    Not as far as the government is concerned. Kirk is making a distinction that is already implied, as no one advocates forcing religious institutions perform or sanctify marriages they don’t accept. He’s not being a weasel.

  21. Sejanus says:

    @Surreal American: Whoops, I meant to reply to the comment that Stormy Dragon wrote before the comment of yours that I accidentally replied to.

  22. Dave says:

    @Stormy Dragon: The difference there is that all 50 states recognize first cousin marriages even if the state you are currently in wouldn’t let you legally get married there. So they would be recognized no matter where they went as well as by the federal government.

  23. @Dave:

    The difference there is that all 50 states recognize first cousin marriages even if the state you are currently in wouldn’t let you legally get married there.

    Except no, a number of them do void out of state first cousin marriages (including Arizona and Utah for the purposes of our Four Corners hypothetical).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cousin_marriage_law_in_the_United_States_by_state

  24. wr says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “Does the fact a first cousin couple from Colorado has the same issue at the four corners mean Arizona and Utah are being absurd? ”

    It’s actually a pretty safe bet to go with a yes on the question of whether Arizona and Utah are being absurd, no matter the context…

  25. al-Ameda says:

    One thing this makes clear is that an effort to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, leaving aside for the moment its fate in the Supreme Court, would easily pass the Senate. The House may be more difficult, but even many Republicans have distanced themselves from the law in recent years.

    Are there any Republicans in the House who have distanced themselves from DOMA in recent years? When it comes to the House, any bill to repeal DOMA would be DOA. The Republican House is a lost cause.

  26. Dave says:

    My apologies I was wrong. However the Federal government does recognize it which I guess is the main issue since they are unwilling to do so even in states where SSM is legal.