Mark Pryor: I still oppose gay marriage

The Arkansas Democrat is one of the more vulnerable senators up for reelection in 2014

By Jillian Rayfield

Published April 9, 2013 8:28PM (EDT)

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., is just one of three Democrats left in the Senate who has not officially come out in support of gay marriage, and on Tuesday he reiterated that he is still opposed to it.

"No, I'm opposed to gay marriage and have been," he told reporters.

On Saturday, Pryor said he might be open to extending benefits to same sex couples, depending on how the Supreme Court rules in the DOMA case. "On the benefits issue, I said to ‘put me down in the undecided category,’" Pryor told KFSM News. "By that I meant that, depending on what the U.S. Supreme Court decides, I will evaluate whether federal benefits should be available to gay couples. Of course, I will consider the impact any extension of benefits would have on the federal budget.”

The other two remaining Democrats who have not expressly said that they support marriage equality are Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., and Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.

Landrieu, though, has given a much more tepid statement of opposition to same-sex marriages, telling CNN last week that she personally believes that "people should love who they love and marry who they want to marry," but "my state has a very strong constitutional amendment not only against gay marriage but against gay partnerships. So I'm looking at the people of Louisiana trying to represent their interests."

Stuart Rothenberg of Roll Call looked at 2014's Senate races and concluded that the two most vulnerable senators of either party are first Pryor and then Landrieu, which might have something to with their continued opposition.

From Rothenberg:

A February survey by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling showed Landrieu leading a number of Republicans in head-to-head ballot tests, albeit narrowly. On the other hand, a poll done by GOP firm Basswood Research for the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund showed Pryor trailing freshman GOP Rep. Tom Cotton by 8 points.

Moreover, it was less than three years ago that moderate Arkansas Democratic Sen.Blanche Lincoln lost re-election in what admittedly was a bad Democratic year. Still, the size of Lincoln’s defeat — she drew only 36.9 percent of the vote — is a stark reminder of the challenges any Democrat now faces in this state.

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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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2014 Elections Gay Marriage Mark Pryor Mary Landrieu Senate Democrats