A majority of senators now support gay marriage rights after Florida Sen. Bill Nelson became the latest member to issue a reversal on the issue Thursday.
Nelson told the Tampa Bay Times that he has reconsidered his opposition to allowing same-sex couples to marry, citing the nation’s Founding Fathers. He is the 51st senator to back gay marriage rights, although any significant vote on the issue would certainly require 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.
Noting that the Declaration of Independence declares that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights,” Nelson said he believes civil rights “must pertain to all. Thus, to discriminate against one class and not another is wrong for me.”
He continued, “If we are endowed by our creator with rights, then why shouldn’t those be attainable by gays and lesbians? Simply put, if the Lord made homosexuals as well as heterosexuals, why should I discriminate against their civil marriage? I shouldn’t, and I won’t.”
Nelson, who just won re-election in 2012 and doesn’t face voters again until 2018, added that he will add his name to a petition of senators who have asked the Supreme Court to strike down laws that ban gay marriage.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.