Over the last 10 days, seven Senate Democrats have announced their support for marriage equality, a flurry of progressive activity that was hard to predict just a few weeks ago. But on the Republican side of the aisle, progress has been significantly quieter – Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), citing his gay son, endorsed same-sex marriage, but he was the only one in his caucus to do so.
This morning, he got a little company.
Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk on Tuesday became the second Senate Republican to support marriage rights for same-sex couples, saying that “government has no place” in blocking loving marriages. […]
“Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage. Our time on this earth is limited, I know that better than most,” Kirk added. “Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back – government has no place in the middle.”
Though Portman’s announcement broke new ground, I’d argue Kirk’s announcement is more admirable – the Illinois Republican didn’t endorse marriage equality because it affects someone close to him; he declared his support for equality because it’s the right thing to do.
Incidentally, as my colleague Tricia McKinney reminded me, there’s also a cumulative figure to keep in mind: there are now 50 senators – 48 Democrats and two Republicans – on board with marriage rights. There are no bills pending on the issue, but one more would have the symbolic significance of crossing the majority threshold.
Also, for those keeping score, there are now two Senate Republicans and two House Republicans who have publicly endorsed same-sex marriage. Or put another way, there are 277 Republican members of Congress – 232 in the House, 45 in the Senate – and four of them support marriage equality.
That’s about 1.4%, which isn’t much, but I suppose it’s a start.