Second GOP senator backs marriage equality

"Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage," said Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk

By Jillian Rayfield

Published April 2, 2013 4:10PM (EDT)

Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois is the second Republican senator to announce his support for marriage equality, following Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who recently said he decided to back gay marriage because of his gay son.

"When I climbed the Capitol steps in January," Kirk said in a statement, "I promised myself that I would return to the Senate with an open mind and greater respect for others."

He continued: "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."

Democratic Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Tom Carper of Delaware also announced their support this week, leaving just seven Dems who remain opposed to gay marriage: Mark Pryor, Alaska, Heidi Heitkamp, N.D., Tim Johnson, S.D., Bill Nelson, Fla., Mary Landrieu,  La., Joe Manchin, W. Va., and Joe Donnelly, Ind.

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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Gay Marriage Illinois Mark Kirk Republicans Rob Portman