Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., announced his support for gay marriage on Tuesday, becoming only the second Republican senator to do so and the most recent of a large wave of other politicians.
Kirk, a 53-year-old former House member, said that his recovery from a debilitating stroke in January 2012 that kept him out of Washington for nearly a year has widened his world view on many issues, including gay rights.
“Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage. Our time on this earth is limited, I know that better than most. Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back — government has no place in the middle,” Kirk said in a brief statement posted to his official blog. “When I climbed the Capitol steps in January, I promised myself that I would return to the Senate with an open mind and greater respect for others.”
Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio became the first GOP senator to come out in favor of same-sex marriage last month. He said that when his college-aged son came out to him, it helped change his own views on the issue.
Also Tuesday, Sen. Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., announced his support for gay marriage, meaning that only seven Senate Democrats have not yet publicly backed the right for gay couples to marry. In recent days, in-cycle Democrats such as Sens. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Warner of Virginia and Mark Begich of Alaska announced their support of same-sex marriage.
Just Monday, Catholic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania — an anti-abortion Democrat — also announced he supports the rights of all couples to wed.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on two cases recently — one on the Defense of Marriage Act and another on California’s Proposition 8 — that could determine the future legality of gay marriage nationwide.