As of yesterday, there were only eight members of the 55-seat Senate Democratic caucus who hadn’t endorsed marriage equality. And of the eight, Tom Carper of Delaware was the toughest to understand.
It’s one thing for a red-state Democrat who’s worried about re-election to hold back – it’s unfortunate, to be sure, but it’s at least easier to understand – but Delaware isn’t exactly in the Bible Belt, and it’s hard to imagine the senator facing electoral consequences for doing the right thing.
And with that in mind, Carper this morning fell off the fence, publishing this on his Facebook page.
“As our society has changed and evolved, so too has the public’s opinion on gay marriage – and so has mine. I pray every day for God to grant me the wisdom to do what is right. Through my prayers and conversations with my family and countless friends and Delawareans, I’ve been reminded of the power of one of my core values: the Golden Rule. It calls on us to treat others as we want to be treated. That means, to me, that all Americans ultimately should be free to marry the people they love and intend to share their lives with, regardless of their sexual orientation, and that’s why today, after a great deal of soul searching, I’m endorsing marriage equality.”
For those keeping score at home, that leaves seven Senate Democrats who have not yet endorsed marriage equality: Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Bill Nelson of Florida, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.
The more this list shrinks, the more its members feel pressure to join their party’s mainstream. (There is no comparable pressure in Republican politics – of the 45 GOP senators, 44 oppose marriage equality.)
Regardless, given the recent trend, it’s time for a new parlor game: who’ll be the next Senate Dem to endorse same-sex marriage? Dave Weigel is going with Nelson, but the Florida Democrat, just last week, reiterated his inexplicable skepticism, so I doubt he’ll flip real soon. I’d put my money on Johnson, since retirement announcements tend to have a liberating effect.
What’s your guess?