U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota, one of the last remaining Democratic Senators to publicly support same-sex marriage, announced Monday that he now supports marriage equality for gay couples.
“After lengthy consideration, my views have evolved sufficiently to support marriage equality legislation,” Johnson said in a statement.
“This position doesn’t require any religious denomination to alter any of its tenets; it simply forbids government from discrimination regarding who can marry whom.”
Johnson in 2005 and 2006 had said he didn’t support gay marriage, but did not believe a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was needed.
Johnson’s announcement comes days after two of his colleagues offered their support to same-sex marriage. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democratic senator from North Dakota, and Sen. Joe Donnelly, a Democratic senator from Indiana, say they support same-sex marriage.
Johnson becomes the 54th U.S. Senator to endorse same-sex marriage. Only three Democratic senators do not: Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Last week, Landrieu said she personally supports marriage equality for gay couples, but that she would not take a public position in support same-sex marriage because of opposition among her constituents. Pryor, in an interview with KFSM-TV, said he was “undecided.”
Among Republicans, only two senators, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Rob Portman of Ohio, have announced their support for gay marriage.