TAMPA, Fla. — U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida on Thursday joined the chorus of moderate Democrats in reversing his longtime opposition to same-sex marriage, leaving only six remaining Democratic U.S. Senators who have not yet come out in support of marriage equality.
In a statement to the Tampa Bay Times, Nelson wrote, “If The Lord made homosexuals as well as heterosexuals, why should I discriminate against their civil marriage? I shouldn’t, and I won’t.”
“It is generally accepted in American law and U.S. society today ‘… that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.’ I believe that. The civil rights and responsibilities for one must pertain to all.
“Thus, to discriminate against one class and not another is wrong for me.
“If we are endowed by our Creator with rights, then why shouldn’t those be attainable by Gays and Lesbians?
“Simply put, if The Lord made homosexuals as well as heterosexuals, why should I discriminate against their civil marriage? I shouldn’t, and I won’t.
“So I will add my name to the petition of senators asking the Supreme Court to declare the law that prohibits gay marriage unconstitutional.”
Nelson becomes the 51th U.S. senator to throw his support behind same-sex marriage. Forty-six other Democrats, two independents who caucus with Democrats and two Republicans have previously announced their support for marriage equality.
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With Nelson’s announcement, there remains only six Senate Democrats who still publicly oppose same-sex marriage; they are: Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.
On Tuesday, GOP Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois became only the second Republican in the U.S. Senate besides Ohio Sen. Rob Portman to publicly support same-sex marriage.