Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski has become the third member of the GOP to endorse marriage equality. Senators Rob Portman of Ohio and Mark Kirk of Illinois have also announced their support of the right of gays and lesbians to marry.
During an interview with Anchorage NBC affiliate KTUU, Murkowski talked about marriage equality and was frank about her opinion. The interview will air later this evening.
"This is a hard issue... because marriage is such a deeply personal issue. There may be some that when they hear the position that I hold that are deeply disappointed. There may be some who embrace the decision that I have made. I recognize that it is an area that, as a Republican, I will be criticized for."
LGBT rights groups were quick to react to the news.
"Senator Murkowski's courageous and principled announcement today sends a clear message that marriage equality must come to all 50 states in this country. As the Supreme Court prepares to rule in two landmark marriage cases this month, a growing bipartisan coalition is standing up for the right of all couples to marry--and there is no turning back that tide," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "We hope other fair-minded conservatives like Senator Murkowski stand up and join her. Alaska may be nicknamed 'the Last Frontier,' but we've got to make sure that LGBT Alaskans don't have to wait to find justice."
Marc Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom To Marry, also joined the chorus. "Senator Murkowski joins the majority of US senators taking a stand for equal treatment under the law on one of the most important bonds in our society: marriage. And as the third GOP senator to announce support for marriage this year, she shows that the conservative tenets of freedom and family are perfectly in line with the freedom to marry," he said.
Murkowski voted for both the hate crimes bill passed in 2009 and the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.