Less than three weeks after Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman's unexpected endorsement of same-sex marriage, the Senate GOP has gained a second marriage equality backer. Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois announced on his website this morning his changed view, and that same sex couples should have the right to a civil marriage. He explained, “Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back — government has no place in the middle.”
His short and poignant post is a heartwarming example of the social evolution that conservative and even liberal politicians must publicly undergo. Even though Kirk had always been more liberal on social views, his clear statement will hopefully begin and continue a trend for other Americans to take after
Kirk, who suffered a stroke early last year, claimed, “Our time on this earth is limited, I know better than most,” and that he wants to do work for the country “with an open mind and a greater respect for others.”
Kirk was the lead co-sponsor of a bill to ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, and he also opposed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. While running for senator in 2010, during a debate Kirk said of gay marriage, “I — I oppose gay marriage, and — I support civil unions. But I also don’t think we should have a federal takeover of all marriage law in the United States. I think the federal government is already trying to take over too much.”
His views are virtually the same, apart from support of an actual civil marriage. Kirk never seemed to be prejudice against LGBT, always in support of their protection and freedom. He has always preferred the government out of peoples business and citizens to live as they please (within reason, of course). So why is his support of gay marriage a big deal?
Kirk's endorsement is important because he is only the second sitting Republican senator to support the issue. Because he explained his reasoning by using respect and open mindedness. Because evolution from con to pro can inspire others to think outside their box and follow his and Senator Portman's example.
Kirk’s statement begins to rid a stigma conservatives have with LGBT and creates a greater opportunity for politicians, of any party, to evolve and openly support marriage equality.