Third Republican senator backs same-sex marriage
June 19th, 2013
11:03 AM ET
2 years ago

Third Republican senator backs same-sex marriage

(CNN) – Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska announced her support Wednesday for same-sex marriage, becoming the third sitting GOP senator to back the right for gay and lesbian couples to marry.

She made her endorsement during an interview with a local television station in Alaska and in an opinion piece on her website, just days before the Supreme Court is expected to rule on two high-profile cases involving same-sex marriage.

"I support the right of all Americans to marry the person they love and choose because I believe doing so promotes both values: it keeps politicians out of the most private and personal aspects of peoples’ lives – while also encouraging more families to form and more adults to make a lifetime commitment to one another," she wrote.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin applauded the senator, describing Murkowski as "courageous and principled."

"We hope other fair-minded conservatives like Senator Murkowski stand up and join her. Alaska may be nicknamed 'the Last Frontier,' but we've got to make sure that LGBT Alaskans don't have to wait to find justice," he said in a statement.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule this month on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and California's same-sex marriage ban known as Prop 8.

Earlier this year, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio endorsed same-sex marriage, citing his son, who his gay, as a major influence on his decision. Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois followed suit a month later.

Murkowski, who's not up for re-election until 2016, told local media in March she was "evolving" on the issue and was considering her stance "very closely." Her comments came two weeks after Portman made his announcement.

Meanwhile, a small group of Democrats in the Senate also voiced support for the issue for the first time earlier this year when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the two cases.

A majority of Americans support allowing same-sex couples to marry, with 57% in favor and 40% opposed, according to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll. About a third of Republicans and 71% of Democrats support the issue.

"I think you are seeing a change in attitude, a change in tolerance," she told Alaska Public Media in March. "And an acceptance that what marriage should truly be about is a lasting, loving committed relationship with respect to the individual."

In 1998, Alaska became one of the first of now-29 states to pass an amendment to its constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Murkowski backed similar proposals on the federal level in 2004 and 2006.

"It may be that Alaska will come to revisit its position on gay marriage, and as a policy maker I am certainly reviewing that very closely," she said.

- CNN's Ashley Killough, Martina Stewart and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: Alaska • Lisa Murkowski • Same-sex marriage • Senate
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. The Real Tom Paine

    Oh my God! There will be orgies in the igloos! Grizzlies and Polar Bears living together, mass hysteria!

    June 19, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Good job standing up for equality Sen. Murkowski. Inform the rest of the people in your party that we still have a Declaration of Independence which states that "we hold these truths to be self-evident, 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."

    June 19, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  3. Larry in Houston

    LOL – sounds like she's one of the "smart" ones, in her party. Here's the bottom line in my opinion, this gal knows that if her party doesn't "get on board" with the rest of this country, (or at least the majority) They are going to start losing elections, I mean, I hate to be a bearer of bad tidings, But there's only very few, that would even "qualify" for the nomination. lol ( and I mean very few)

    June 19, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  4. California Gary

    Slowly they come around.......one by one. Maybe one day the full GOP will join the rest of us in the 21st century.

    June 19, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  5. Al-NY,NY

    bye bye Murkowski......if you think the rest of the American Taliban will stand for this "treasonous" act and support you in 2016, you are mistaken. They are already scouring the bars/country clubs/cult compounds for a "real" republican..you know...one that hates gays, thinks women are second class, wants minorities out of the country, owns 10 guns, spouts off about god (christian god that is), and probably makes a bundle while whining about moochers and layabouts.

    June 19, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  6. just me

    Lol, up next: a scathing tweet from Palins's ghost writer

    June 19, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  7. A Kickin` Donkey

    This what is commonly referred to as "FOLOWING". It is not to be confused with "LEADING". Republicans never lead, they lack the courage gene required to do so. They do BULLY, SMEAR & Swiftboat [they have that DNA] but those traits should not be confused with LEADING.

    June 19, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  8. NEVER to VOTE REPUBLICAN again

    She just wants votes. VOTE THE GOP OUT!

    June 19, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  9. lottie

    repos need to come around if they want any votes in the next election. People are getting tired of the do nothing congress and the no back bone candidates. For gosh sake they are still pushing abortion instead of passing anything to help the American people. So far they have voted on Obama care and abortion again this past week Whoopie te do /

    June 19, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  10. truth hurts but reality bites

    Well, she is certainly not representing the views of her constituency which is her job. She was not elected by the gays and lesbians in SanFrancisco. She may very well lose her job if she does not represnt their views. That is how our government works.

    June 19, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  11. Randy, San Francisco

    The rebranding of the Republican Party is proceeding with baby steps.

    June 19, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  12. ja

    what is her stance on high capacity weapons and hand guns, available at the 24 hour marts

    June 19, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  13. tom l.

    @California Gary
    "Slowly they come around.......one by one. Maybe one day the full GOP will join the rest of us in the 21st century."

    I'm sorry. Im confused. Are you talking about President Obama? Because, "slowly he came around" recently...

    June 19, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  14. tom l.

    @Never to vote
    So, did President Obama just want votes, too, when he changed his position exactly the same way that Murkowski did? The answer is yes, but since you lack intellectual honesty, you won't recognize when he does things only for votes.

    I just think this is proof that you hate women and have a war against women. You are highly critical of her, but you aren't of a man. You're such a misogynist.

    June 19, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  15. Michael

    I wish more Republican would stand with the 70 percent of Americans who want background checks and the majority who want same-sex marriage. Gerrymandered districts make Supreme Court decisions critical if marriage equality is to be granted. There are many gerrymandered districts in Texas who would still vote against interracial marriages if they got to vote.

    June 19, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  16. mitchgam

    WOW, looks like more and more Republicans can see the handwriting on the wall.
    Basically that they have no future living in the past.

    Doubling down on stupid is not an option for any politician wishing to stay in office.

    June 19, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  17. aallen333

    By foolishly backing away from issues true conservatives find most important, the lukewarm GOPers are paving the way for the emergence of a new party that will replace the Republican Party as the party of choice for conservatives.

    June 19, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  18. Javo

    II was under the impression these were same sex legal unions, not marriages... LGB just wanted equal rights as married couples (heterosexual..). Legal Unions will give them what they want. They should be happy.

    June 19, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    "The Supreme Court is expected to rule this month on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and California's same-sex marriage ban known as Prop 8."
    --------------------
    The 1st Amendment begins with, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;....." Well you can dismiss DOMA on those grounds right there.

    Article 1 of the 14th Amendment contains the following, "... No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States. ..." You can kiss Prop 8 goodbye, too.

    But, the SCOTUS has not been following the law lately. They seem more interested in making law, than following it.

    June 19, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  20. Data Driven

    If you can get married, Javo, a gay person should be able to as well. Everyone should be equal under the law.

    June 19, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  21. Jim

    It's coming. It's just a matter of time. Be on the right side of history. Those holding on to the notion that the world is flat will simply have less and less say in politics as the rest of humanity accepts the world is round.

    June 19, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  22. ialsoagree

    @Javo

    Wrong on multiple levels. Firstly, legal unions don't offer the same rights as marriage. So they aren't even equal.

    Secondly, "separate but equal" didn't work for racists in the south, and it certaintly isn't going to work today.

    Finally, DOMA forbids the Federal government from extending the rights of married couples to LGBT couples. So, once again, it's not just "separate but equal" it's "separate and unequal."

    June 19, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  23. Thomas

    Thats what I love about the GOP , next year they will say they invented the idea .

    June 19, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  24. sly

    Even the Party of Stupid can read the polls: 57% support.

    Gay marriage, gun control, health care, immigration reform: all good ideas that are coming to America.

    These are good times for America.

    June 19, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |