Two more Democratic U.S. Senators have joined the push for marriage equality – Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota – bringing the total to 53.
There are now just four Democrats in the Senate who have not taken a stand in support of marriage equality:
• Tim Johnson of South Dakota.
• Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.
• Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
• Mark Pryor of Arkansas.
Heitkamp, in her April 5 statement, said, “In speaking with North Dakotans from every corner of our great state, and much personal reflection, I have concluded the federal government should no longer discriminate against people who want to make lifelong, loving commitments to each other or interfere in personal, private, and intimate relationships. I view the ability of anyone to marry as a logical extension of this belief. The makeup of families is changing, but the importance of family is enduring.”
She became the 53rd sitting U.S. senator to come out for marriage equality.
Donnelly was the 52nd.
On his Facebook page early April 5, he wrote, “In recent years, our country has been involved in an important discussion on the issue of marriage equality. While serving in the House of Representatives, I had the opportunity to act on a core belief of mine: we are a stronger country when we draw on the strengths of all Americans. I voted to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and was an original supporter of the bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against someone in the workplace because of their sexual orientation. It is also for that reason that I oppose amending either Indiana’s or our nation’s constitution to enshrine in those documents an ‘us’ and a ‘them,’ instead of a ‘we.’ With the recent Supreme Court arguments and accompanying public discussion of same-sex marriage, I have been thinking about my past positions and votes. In doing so, I have concluded that the right thing to do is to support marriage equality for all.”
On April 4, Bill Nelson of Florida also came out for marriage equality – No. 51.
The GOP, following election losses in November 2012, vowed to improve its reputation with minority voting blocs, including the LGBT community. However, as of April 5, only two U.S. senators on the Republican side – Mark Kirk of Illinois and Rob Portman of Ohio – have stated their support for marriage equality.
Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, the GOP leadership is behind the legal defense of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act at the Supreme Court level.