Sen. Tim Johnson Endorses Same-Sex Marriage

Retiring Senator Tim Johnson is the latest Democratic Senator to endorse same-sex marriage:

Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), one of the last remaining Democratic holdouts to oppose same-sex marriage, announced Monday that he now supports gay nuptials.

“After lengthy consideration, my views have evolved sufficiently to support marriage equality legislation,” Johnson said in a statement. “This position doesn’t require any religious denomination to alter any of its tenets; it simply forbids government from discrimination regarding who can marry whom.”

As one Democrat after another came out in support of marriage equality over the last month, Johnson’s reticence on the subject confused some, as he will not seek re-election next year and therefore faced no political damage for changing positions. Some speculated that he remained silent in order to avoid undermining the political prospects of his son, U.S. attorney Brendan Johnson, who is said to be considering a run in next year’s open U.S. Senate race.

This leaves three Senators on the Democratic side who have not endorsed same-sex marriage, but it’s clear that at least two of them won’t be making any announcements any time soon. Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, for example said that while she personally supports marriage equality she won’t endorse it because her state bans it. Arkansas’s David Mark Pryor, meanwhile, says he’s still undecided on the issue. Perhaps not coincidentally, Pryor and Landrieu are  both facing re-election in 2014.

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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Loving that this gay-hater is coming around to Dick Cheney’s way of thinking. It’s encouraging that they are still learning by watching Cheney.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, for example said that while she personally supports marriage equality she won’t endorse it because her state bans it.

    That’s what’s called “leadership” in Louisiana.

  3. LC says:

    What is coincidental about Landrieu saying she personally supports it, but represents her constituents who oppose it, in an election year?

    Also, Arkansas’ Democratic Senator is named Mark Pryor, not David Pryor.

  4. Rafer Janders says:

    I’d always thought evolution was supposed to be a gradual process….and yet it seems I must now come around to Stephen Jay Gould’s view of a punctuated equilibrium….

  5. Rafer Janders says:

    “This position doesn’t require any religious denomination to alter any of its tenets; it simply forbids government from discrimination regarding who can marry whom.”

    Well, that was always true. So what’s changed now, Tim Johnson?

  6. stonetools says:

    H’mm, why isn’t Doug attacking REPUBLICAN Senators for not endorsing SSM? He spends time pointing out that Democratic Senators who are up for re-election in red states are slow to endorse it, but has not a word to say about the vast majority of Republican Senators who oppose it. Isn’t it time for him to urge the Republican Senators to take some risks and come out in favor of it? Or is risk-taking just for Democrats?

  7. mantis says:

    @Original Pechanga:

    Loving that this gay-hater is coming around to Dick Cheney’s way of thinking. It’s encouraging that they are still learning by watching Cheney.

    Johnson waited until he no longer held any power in government to support gay marriage? Oh, he’s still a senator? So…not so much like Cheney. Less cowardly, one would say. Of course, with a man like Cheney, it’s not hard to be less of a coward by comparison.

  8. stonetools says:

    Also too, why doesn’t he (and James Joyner) urge the Republican Governor of Virginia – whom they voted for– to evolve on the issue, regardless of the political cost?

    Oh well, I expect I just caused the ruin of a couple of keyboards….

  9. swbarnes2 says:

    Where is everyone getting the idea that Cheney is a gung-ho supporter of marriage equality? As far as I can see he’s 100% fine with states deciding to ban it. As far as I can tell he’s fine with his daughter living in a state that doesn’t think she’s married.

    Does someone have a quote of him saying otherwise?

  10. swbarnes2 says:

    @stonetools:

    Also too, why doesn’t he (and James Joyner) urge the Republican Governor of Virginia – whom they voted for- to evolve on the issue, regardless of the political cost?

    Doug has “no regrets” supporting McDonnell with his vote. McDonnell supports the gay marriage ban.

    Connect the dots already. Stop pretending Doug is a reasonable, decent guy on this matter. His words and actions show that he is not.

  11. anjin-san says:

    @ stonetools

    H’mm, why isn’t Doug attacking REPUBLICAN Senators for not endorsing SSM?

    Good question, but I doubt if we will get an answer from Disappearing Doug.

  12. stonetools says:

    @swbarnes2:

    Connect the dots already. Stop pretending Doug is a reasonable, decent guy on this matter. His words and actions show that he is not.

    OK, let me (faintly) praise our host, not bury him.

    I do believe that Doug is in favor of SSM on some Platonic level. And to be fair, he has written a couple of posts criticizing the Republican Party for opposing SSM.

    But that’s a lot less than calling for Republican elected officials to take a stand for gay rights. And it s a hell of lot less than holding Republicans accountable with your vote for opposing SSM. There’ll be a gubernatorial election in Virginia this year, where the issue will come up. That will be the acid moral test for our hosts.

  13. swbarnes2 says:

    @stonetools:

    I do believe that Doug is in favor of SSM on some Platonic level.

    I would like to believe that, but I don’t see the evidence. I see him saying that opposition to SSM is tactically stupid, but he’s never brought himself to say that it’s wrong.

    But he did say that he has no regrets for helping McDonnell into office by voting for him. I can’t judge Doug by what I imagine he believes, or by what I wish he believes. That’s delusional. I have to look at the evidence.

    You know, he does the same thing on abortion threads. He’ll say how stupid this Republican statement or that Republican bill is, but he can’t bring himself to say that he disapproves of the harm caused by these Republican policies. After seeing the same pattern over and over again, one eventually has to draw the conclusion; it’s not an oversight. He doesn’t say he disapproves, because he doesn’t.

    And to be fair, he has written a couple of posts criticizing the Republican Party for opposing SSM.

    Does he criticize them for engaging in bad tactics, or for forwarding an immoral, unfair policy?

  14. Sejanus says:

    Yo Doug! Check this out. I’m hoping that this will put some sense into your skull and lead you to pinch your nose on elections day and vote for McAuliffe.

    Beh, who am I kidding…

  15. @Sejanus: I’m not a defender of Cuccinelli, but that article is partly incorrect.

    The age of consent is 18 in Virginia, and the sodomy statue has been used since the Lawrence v. Texas decision to bring felony charges against adults that engage in consensual anal or oral intercourse with someone younger than 18.

    Consensual vaginal intercourse with someone younger than 18 but 15 and older is only punished as “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” and is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

    In addition, someone convicted of sodomy has to register as a sex offender while someone convicted of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” doesn’t.

  16. Kylopod says:

    and yet it seems I must now come around to Stephen Jay Gould’s view of a punctuated equilibrium….

    Appropriate that that theory has been called “evolution by jerks.”

  17. Jeremy R says:

    @mantis:

    You’re not quite going far enough. To really be like Cheney, Johnson would have had to cynically engage in a election strategy of seeding SSM bans in critical swing states, enshrining discrimination simply for partisan electoral gain. Oh, and he’d also need a gay child he was throwing under the bus as he did all that.