As the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the Defense of Marriage Act this week, Senator Kay Hagan, D-N.C., became the latest Democrat to publicly endorse same-sex marriage. Hagan is up for reelection next year and said she came to the conclusion after much thought and prayer.
Her decision to publicly endorse same-sex marriage shows just how rapidly things have changed since last May when President Obama publicly endorsed marriage equality. More and more politicians, specifically within the Democratic party, are coming forward to announce their support for same-sex couples to legally wed.
“I think there have been a lot of Democrats already there,” said Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., Thursday on Jansing & Co. “When we look at the whole of society, I believe that what we’re seeing is people are saying ‘hey, this is okay with us and let’s move beyond this.’”
“I think that not only is it right and fair, but also consistent with our constitution to recognize same-sex couples,” President Obama said during an interview with NBC’s sister network Telemundo. “It doesn’t mean that everybody has to agree from a religious standpoint about this issue. It does mean that it is very important for us to remember we’re a nation in which everybody’s supposed to be equal before the law.”
The Washington Post’s Dan Balz says there is little doubt every Democrat who plans to run for president in 2016 will support same-sex marriage.
In addition to the handful of Democratic Senators who have recently come forward to publicly endorse marriage equality, one Republican Senator also recently announced his support of same-sex marriage. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said he had a change of heart citing his son who is gay.
“I commend some of my colleagues on the Republican side, probably in a very agonizing way for many of them, coming to the conclusion that this is about equality,” Rep. Sanchez told msnbc’s Chris Jansing. “I think that what you’re going to see is probably some more Republicans say ‘hey, we’ve got to move away from this divide that we’re creating.’”
The New York Times’ Peter Baker argues the momentum in the political world for gay rights could actually limit momentum in the legal world: “While the court may throw out a federal law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, the justices signaled over two days of arguments that they might not feel compelled to intervene further, since the democratic process seems to be playing out on its own, state by state, elected official by elected official.”
“It used to be that people, the Republicans in particular, would put these issues of divide, divide, divide on the ballots to bring out the vote,” said Rep. Sanchez. “In the last election cycle, we actually saw some states pass a very pro gay and marriage agenda. So I think it’s changing.”