by Sam Levin
Missouri Democratic Governor Jay Nixon may not want to talk about gay marriage right now -- but Mark Kirk, Republican Senator from Illinois, is not shying away from the topic. Just a little over a week after Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, expressed her support for marriage equality for the first time, Kirk has announced today that he too supports same-sex marriages.
His statement makes him the second GOP Republican senator in the country to back gay marriage, one week after Rob Portman, R-Ohio, declared his support -- sparking a series of endorsements from members of both parties as the Supreme Court last week took up historic cases on the matter.
"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," Kirk wrote on his blog today.
The short statement continues:
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's post references his absence from Congress before January while he was recovering from a stroke.
Portman, in his lengthy announcement in a newspaper op-ed, cited his gay son as part of his decision to change his stance on same-sex marriage. McCaskill, too, cited her children, noting that they have a "hard time understanding why this is even controversial."
Today's news comes as Illinois is in the process of giving final consideration to a measure that could make the state the tenth in the nation to allow same-sex marriages.
Next door, Missouri still has a gay marriage ban on the books, and Nixon, stating his opposition in the past, has said that he doesn't expect much legislative activity in this area.
For now, he's just avoiding the topic.