In the past several days, as the challenges to Prop 8 and DOMA go before the Supreme Court, more Democratic senators have come out in support of marriage equality. On Monday, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, Virginia Senator Mark Warner, and then Alaska Senator Mark Begich publicly offered their support. After 11 senators were listed by Time magazine - Montana Senator Jon Tester came out, as well. Yesterday Senator Kay Hagan, who is up for re-election in 2014, added her name. That leaves Delaware's Tom Carper, Pennsylvania's Bob Casey, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Bill Nelson of Florida and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.
And The Advocate reported something really startling:
Now, Republican senator Jeff Sessions may have half-heartedly done the same thing. Although his website still says marriage should remain between a man and a woman, during an impromptu interview outside the Senate chamber, Sessions reportedly told the Chattanooga Times Free Press, "I think people are free to marry any way they want to. But churches are free to set standards for marriage."
Hagan's statement after the break.
This is what Senator Hagan posted on her Facebook page this morning:
Marriage equality is a complex issue with strong feelings on both sides, and I have a great deal of respect for varying opinions on the issue. After much thought and prayer, I have come to my own personal conclusion that we shouldn't tell people who they can love or who they can marry.
This wasn't a decision I came to overnight, like my Republican colleague Rob Portman expressed recently on his own viewpoint. Last year, I opposed Amendment One because I was concerned about the negative consequences it could have on North Carolina families and our economy. The fabric of North Carolina and what makes our state so special is our families and our common desire for a brighter future for our children. No matter what your family looks like, we all want the same thing for our families - happiness, health, prosperity, a bright future for our children and grandchildren.
Religious institutions should have religious freedom on this issue. No church or minister should ever have to conduct a marriage that is inconsistent with their religious beliefs. But I think as a civil institution, this issue's time has come and we need to move forward. Jobs and the economy are the number one issue for me and for North Carolinians right now, and I'm not going to take my eye off that ball at a time when so many are still struggling.