And then there were three: Tim Johnson backs same-sex marriage
April 8th, 2013
02:20 PM ET
1 year ago

And then there were three: Tim Johnson backs same-sex marriage

(CNN) – Sen. Tim Johnson, D-South Dakota, on Monday joined the wave of senators from his party who are endorsing same-sex marriage for the first time.

The third-term senator, who's not seeking re-election next year, said in a statement his "views have evolved sufficiently to support marriage equality legislation."

"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," he said.

With his announcement, that leaves three Senate Democrats who have yet to come out in support for gay and lesbian couples to have the legal right to marry. All three come from conservative-leaning states. They include Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Both Pryor and Landrieu are up for re-election next year, while Manchin's term ends in 2018.

Landrieu told CNN National Political Correspondent Jim Acosta in an interview Friday that she personally believes "people should love who they love and marry who they want to marry," but that her obligation rests with the people of Louisiana who elected her.

"My state has a very strong constitutional amendment not only against gay marriage but against gay partnerships. So I'm looking at the people of Louisiana trying to represent their interests," she said.

Two Republicans have announced support for same-sex marriage: Rob Portman of Ohio and Mark Kirk of Illinois. Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski recently said her views on the issue are "evolving."

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments last month 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. During that week, it was reported that Johnson reversed his position on DOMA, but he did not come out in full support of same-sex marriage at the time.

– CNN's Steve Brusk, Ashley Killough and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Gay rights • Senate • Tim Johnson
soundoff (89 Responses)
  1. Jim

    It is frightening when all of a sudden a politician makes sense. . . . . . . "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," he said.

    April 8, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  2. Kris

    South Dakota – the pinnacle of the LGBT movement.

    April 8, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  3. Fred Evil

    IF you truly support the Constitution, there can be no other honest interpretation.
    Marriage is between two consenting adults, your religion need not comment, it is neither necessary nor relevant.

    April 8, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  4. ToldUSo

    Don't care, too late to the party to get my respect. Should have been out front a long time ago.

    April 8, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  5. John

    Arkansas and West Virginia are no suprise. I think they just started wearing shoes in those states. However Mary should be ashamed of herself and I hope she loses in the next election. I will donate to any person that will run against her for the Democratic nomination.

    April 8, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  6. Joe

    In order to support gay marriage, you are re-defining the meaning of marriage between 2 adults who love and care for one another. This would be a feeling based definition. In doing so, you will also have to suppoert incest and Polygamy. After all if we are moving to a feeling based definition, you would be desciminating from 2 borthers, 2 sisters or a sitera and brother who love one another and want Govenment perks of being married. You would also have to support if a man or woman loves multiple people. There is a moral reason why Marriage is defined as between one man and one women. Otherwise do away with marriage all together and let free will be the new standard.

    April 8, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. markfromdover

    not seeking re-election probably helped his decision

    April 8, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  8. dpcfoh

    He would have supported it a long time ago if he wasn't afraid to upset the party leaders for "thinking" outside the box. The party leaders don't look kindly on independent thinking by it's members.

    April 8, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  9. Future03

    It's nice to hear about these. I can see why republicans and senators from conservative states are holding back, afterall their career depends on their ability to appease the people who voted for them, and will inevitably decide their fate for their next election. This is why I have to give them a shoutout for opposing many of their potential voters in order to support what's right. Sometimes our leaders need to consider and support their voters' standpoints, but sometimes they need to be role models for their stubborn followers.

    April 8, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  10. Doug

    Mary Landrieu said she represents the people of her state, really ? The people of your state hate everything, wake up lady, grow a pair !

    April 8, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  11. ellid

    @Joe – utterly and completely wrong, and quite insulting to Jews (who honor BOTH of Jacob's wives in their prayers). Shame on you.

    April 8, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  12. much thunder..little rain

    not one senator from the south.....

    April 8, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  13. flaitguy

    joe, I would say that polygamy should be legal too. If that is what 3 or 4 people agree to do , then so be it. But marriage shouldn't be confused with a wedding ceremony. One is recognized by the government and one is recognized or controlled by the church, or can be.

    April 8, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  14. charles kemper

    I cannot believe this issue is more important then people being homeless unemployed and starving

    April 8, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  15. nothing new here

    Boy what can I say?
    As a citizen of the state of Louisiana – this is a state that makes millions off of people that live 'alternative lifestyles', esp. in the city of New Oreans – just the hypocrisy is stunning, to put it mildly.
    As long as the $$$$ is green, those family values can stay on the shelf.
    Until it is time to vote for another so-called morally sound politician.
    Whatever, whatever, whatever.

    April 8, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  16. Montyinokc

    So basically Mary can't think for herself? What a said person.

    April 8, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  17. t3chn0ph0b3

    My state is full of bigots, so, since I represent bigots, I have to be a bigot. No choice. It's just the way things are. – Landrieu

    April 8, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  18. Selmers

    Of course! They want the votes.

    April 8, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  19. Norman

    dpcfoh-thats dumb-independent thinking means bigotry right?

    April 8, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  20. Guest

    It's discouraging that the Obama admin's top priorities are amnesty for illegals, gun control, and gay marriage. These are politcal priorities, nothing else, and will do nothing to solve the real issues we face as a nation. A democrats only goal is protecting their own azz and spending other people's money to do it.

    April 8, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  21. Norman

    Joe, thats idiotic and you know it.

    April 8, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  22. ugh

    evolved – or "devolved"....I mean "pandered"......

    April 8, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  23. ComeOnNow

    So...'JOE'...this is kind of like we have redefined 'milita'. I am going to go out on a limb a say you are probably a strong supporter of the Second Amendment....as am I....but I do not recall the name of the 'militia' that I belong to, in order to have the right to own a gun. Hmmmm.....funny how we can redefine one thing, but seem unwilling to redefine another....

    April 8, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  24. a slozomby

    @joe "you would be desciminating from 2 borthers, 2 sisters or a sitera and brother who love one another and want Govenment perks of being married. You would also have to support if a man or woman loves multiple people. There is a moral reason why Marriage is defined as between one man and one women. " would that be the biblical definition where polygamy was pretty common?

    April 8, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    The "Bible Thumpers" have KILLED the GOP. Their motto of "Whats the use of having morals if you cant IMPOSE them on other people?" has forced the GOP to become the "Part of Small Government" EXCEPT, we will force our morals on you.

    It is a lose, lose, lose proposition for the small government stance of the GOP. The thumpers will never stop attempting to impose their religious/moral beliefs on other people, its simply not in their DNA.

    April 8, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
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