(CNN) - Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, a socially moderate Republican, announced on Tuesday his support for same-sex marriage, becoming the second Republican in the chamber to support it.
"Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage," he wrote in a statement. "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."
Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio became the first Republican in the U.S. Senate to endorse same-sex marriage. He announced last month that he was swayed on the issue by his son, who told his family he was gay.
Seven of the 55 Democratic senators have not endorsed same-sex marriage. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, announced his support earlier on Tuesday.
“Senator Kirk and Senator Carper have shown tremendous leadership in announcing their support for marriage equality," said Chad Griffin, the president of the pro-gay rights group Human Rights Campaign. "It is a sign of our progress that so many of their colleagues are showing the same political will. Democrat or Republican, there can simply be no excuse for standing on the wrong side of history when it comes to this basic question of justice.”
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week in two cases on the issue, including a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
Kirk, 53, returned to the Senate in January after spending a year in recovery from a stroke.
"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," he said in Tuesday's statement.
He served in the U.S. House from 2000 to 2010, where he voted twice against constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage.
Kirk holds the Senate seat which President Barack Obama vacated in 2008.
Another turncoat Republican turning his back on the constituents that voted for him. Homosexuality is an abomination and it is wrong. Legalizing gay marriage is an act that will legitimize their deviant behavior. Ban gay marriage now Kick this guy out and put in a real republican
Hmmm....GOP senator from Blue state backs same sex marriage. Dem senator (Kaegan) last week from Red state backs same sex marriage. I doubt its their convictions as much as their re-elect-ability that is driving their change of heart.
While the endorsement of equity for all peoples and diversity, I'm afraid that for this Gay American, it's too late. The loss of my partner and revocation of rights has forever damaged the GOP.
The best part is: We no longer care what you think. We're getting rights whether you like it or not.
Something needs to be done on this issue. I am not gay but have friends that are. And I believe that traditional marriage should be between a man and a woman. But at the same time I think it is time to address this issue and allow for civil marriages for gay and lesbian couples should be allowed. But I also know that a lot of the moral right disagrees with this view. The same moral right that keeps trying to force there moral views on the rest of us that keep saying we want government out of our lives. Well to them I say this "get over it!"....because your so called argument is not stopping government from being in our lives it allowing it. It is forcing your personal religious moral views on the rest of us and walking all over everyone's right to religious freedom in this country. And your doing this on other issues not just this one.
He isn't turning his back on anyone. He's a moderate Illinois Republican.
The momentum is behind us, people are finally stepping up and speaking out. It is about time they spoke their minds and let others be free. Our country was founded on the principal of freedom, even if we weren't very good at practicing it. At least now people are getting it right. Thank you Senator for your courageous step into the light, more should be like you. We need to whole heartedly support the gay community, they have been discriminated against far too long.
No he doesn't...
Why don't they, then, repeal DOMA before the Supreme Court even has a chance to rule on it?
As a long time IL resident I am proud of Senator Kirk for his evolution on this issue. Thank you sir.
Ohioan...I am really sorry for all your anger. I am trying to take more of a civil approach to responses to people like you. Maybe love the bible but sympathize with the people who are emotionally scarred from it?
Ohioan – if you feel that way, simply don't marry another person of the same gender.
Equal rights for women and blacks were issues in 1776, and look how long it took for the laws to change. "Mixed" marriage was illegal until people started waking up in the 50's and 60's. Even now, ugly predjudices stain us. We may have a long way to go before there is equality under the law for EVERYONE, but we're moving in the right direction. Congratulations, Senator, on seeing the light. now just shine it a little further to the Right.
Michael, I am sorry for your loss.
How many Republicans have to finally throw off their authoritarian mindsets and speak out for equality before anti-SSM is finally taken out of the Republican Party's platform? Don't get me wrong, I'm glad a few of them are coming around, but their party is still officially on the wrong side of the issue.
Congratulations Senator Kirk. I'm glad something good came out of a tragedy and may I say I have never heard it put better; "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."
And the 'transparent pandering' of the GOP begins..."No, really, I was in favor of this the whole time!!!!"
Sorry, not buying it any more.
Can you see that these people aren't your leader.if can't control their family in the right way how would they be able the control the country in the positive way. these people knows not the right.is as if you're electing a fool and be expectin good
It's easy to see why people are turning away from the Republicans. They are proving to be just like the Democrats.
Putting aside that gay marriage should never be the law of the land, I don't think Republicans are going to pick up a significant block of voters for supporting gay marriage. The flip side of this is that the Republicans will not lose many voters either since conservative voters cannot usually support Democrats for other reasons. It is amazing to see how low our government has sank that approving gay marriage is even a possibility.
Can u see that these people aren't ur leader.if they can't control their family in the right way how would they be able the control the country in the positive way. these people knows not the right.is as if you're electin a fool and be expectin good
To be fair to this Senator, to those claiming he's radically changing his views, it does state in the article that he voted against Gay Marriage bans in 2010 and 2000. It seems he's just voicing the views that his votes back up.
Keep the progress coming. I'm sure some TP person will say how this is a turncoat. Good on that too... keep purifying your tea until you have no one left.
@Ohioan- Based on your logic.... I believe that being a Republican is an abomination and it is wrong. Thus, we should legally discriminate against all republicans to ensure we do not legitimize their deviant behavior. Lets ban being a republican... it will be better for everyone.
Oh look, an actual human being in the GOP.
Who'd a thunk it?
The best part is: You are witnessing the death of the Republican party. It's so beautiful....