Sen. Nelson endorses same-sex marriage
April 4th, 2013
05:57 PM ET
10 years ago

Sen. Nelson endorses same-sex marriage

(CNN) - Florida Sen. Bill Nelson on Thursday joined a recent wave of Democratic senators announcing their support for same sex marriage, reversing his position on the issue and telling a Florida newspaper the "civil rights and responsibilities for one must pertain to all."

His statement to The Tampa Bay Times quoted the Declaration of Independence and asked, "If we are endowed by our Creator with rights, then why shouldn't those be attainable by Gays and Lesbians?"

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"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," he wrote.

Nelson becomes the last Democrat not elected from a conservative-leaning state to endorse same-sex marriage. There are six Democrats in the Senate who have not endorsed same-sex marriage. Those six are Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.

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.

Nelson said he will join "the petition of senators asking the Supreme Court to declare the law that prohibits gay marriage unconstitutional."

He was elected last year to his third term in the U.S. Senate.

There are currently two Republican senators, Rob Portman of Ohio and Mark Kirk of Illinois in the body who support same-sex marriage.

- CNN's Paul Steinhauser and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report

Filed under: Bill Nelson • Florida • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (169 Responses)
  1. why not?

    Why marriage....Why noit civil union before a judge with all the rights of a marriage.
    there is a big differnce between marriage and civil is performed by a judge ...the other by a religious leader so why have you got to be married stomping all over our religious rights religion in government is the standard but how about no government in my religion.....and p.s. while i am here.... theres also a big differce between immigrants and ILLEGAL immigrants....Try to get it Right!

    April 5, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  2. v_mag

    People who think are not buying the "God told me it was wrong" argument. And we never will. There is no basis in the Bible for saying what "God" demands. The book contradicts itself numerous times. It uses expressions that we have no idea what they might have meant to the person who wrote it.

    One example: If someone says, "That dog won't hunt," we all know that he's saying some idea or suggestion is wrong or off the table. In 1960, if someone had said that, the listener would have looked around and said, "What dog?" The phrase is not meant literally, but a person in a different time could not know that.

    The Bible is a long set of books written by different people at different times, and we have no idea what parts were meant literally and what parts are colloquial phrases that mean something entirely different than their strict translation indicates. You cannot possibly expect educated people to fall into that trap.

    April 5, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  3. Billcody

    Jesus was opposed to same sex marriage. Jesus was also opposed to divorce. As soon as the Republicans start passing laws outlawing divorce, I'll support a ban on gay marriage. Jesus said love your neighbor as yourself.

    April 5, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  4. GOP = Greed Over People

    And to all that are yammerin' about polygamy, ever tried to keep track of the men in the Holy Book of Fables with multiple wives and/or concubines?

    April 5, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  5. BerryBlack

    Apparently we have a few people blogging who just don't read the bible and just go off what someone is telling them. This is a simple answer, he would not agree with same sex marriages. Jesus was not about hate but he did not condone things that were against his fathers laws either. He would not hate homosexuals but he would not think agree what they were doing. Even sinners whom he healed, he told them to repent and go in peace. That doesn't just mean say I am sorry but it means to turn around and feel remorse for what you did and change your course of life. He also said marriage was between one man and one woman. He did not use the term people and make as ambiguous as some suggest. Think about it, if he condemned adultery and fornication (sexual relations outside of marriage) why in the world would you think he would entertain same sex marriage. I mean really people get for real and stop playing.

    April 5, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  6. Daisy

    Would Jesus approve of abortion?

    I love how Democrats work any issue to make their point.

    April 5, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  7. GOP = Greed Over People

    "why marriage"?

    Because over 1,100 Federal laws only apply to "marriage", not civil unions.

    That's why.

    April 5, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  8. Al-NY,NY


    You can't use religion as a reson to deny certain groups of citizens rights.

    Sure you Iran and Saudi Arabia. The tightie righties want to create the new country of American Sharia which is based on THEIR interpretation of the Christian Bible. Everyone that obeys is good. The rest....not so much

    April 5, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  9. GOP = Greed Over People

    "Would Jesus approve of abortion?"

    Who knows, He apparently approves of chopping of the heads of infants less than a year old, as that is in the "word of God" as a solution to a problem!

    April 5, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  10. WOT

    Please run for President Sen. Nelson, I am Black and I will Vote for you! Any body who says the Good Lord has a
    Good, HEART.

    April 5, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  11. Yeah Right

    If this was a hundred years ago the argument over who could marry who could be made on some sort of religious grounds – whatever dogma pertains to the sect in question – however since that time, RIGHTS associated with the marriage partnership have increased to the point of complete discrimination... So, for all of you anti-rights religious conservatives, how about we simply reverse all of the laws that have given advantages and special rights to married couples and not single people.... if marriage is just a religious institution... why the perks....

    April 5, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  12. Richard Miller

    Jesus was a fictitious character in the science fiction work of the time called the bible. How do we know what he did or did not do or what he would have done? You can believe in what you want but do not use your beliefs to stomp all over those that do not proscribe to your views.

    April 5, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  13. v_mag

    Elliott Carlin said: "Uh, what part of the definition of marriage don't some people get? It is between a man and a woman and has been so since history has been written."
    Absolutely incorrect. Take a sociology course sometime, Elliott. Or just read a little Margaret Mead. Marriage is defined in some parts of the world as 1 man and as many women as he can afford (polygamy). It's that way in the Old Testament. In some tribal cultures, it is even 1 woman and several men (polyandry). Take a look at ancient Greece sometime and see the varieties of marriage relationships that existed.

    April 5, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  14. reuben

    Bible says, hate the sin but not sinners. LGBT community is bunch of sinners. we should hate the sin they are committing but love them as an individual and pray that Lord may open their eyes to turn around from the sinful life they are living.
    we should never accept their relationship in to marriage because that would be "accepting the sin" which clearly contradicts the biblical teaching.

    April 5, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  15. Robert Lark

    I do not believe in any god, but you do. You all call yourselves Christian. Why do you exhibit any doubt regarding what your opinion should be on gay marriage when your lord had stated it too very clear:

    “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

    Unless you plan to set the Christ aside as your god and then live on on entirely new rules for life, then that is what you are forced to believe. You cannot call yourselves "Christian" and behave otherwise. There is no choice. That was his commandment and you have to obey. The end.

    April 5, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  16. Alan

    The argument that "God made gays, so gay marriage must be okay with Him" is weak, irresponsible, and makes no sense at all. If you believe God made gays and therefore we must all accept and embrace it, you have just given people whom God "created" with violent or anti-societal or otherwise harmful tendencies justification for acting on them. Must society accept ANYTHING just because God created the person who does it? Really????

    God DID create all of us, with all our imperfections, and He loves us all. Still, He has expectations of us. Common sense does not demand that God, despite humanity's personal desires to do, well, ANYTHING, wants us to embrace EVERYTHING. Simply having a feeling does not mean God wants us to act on it, and it's selfish, lazy and irresponsible to go around saying so.

    April 5, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  17. Thelonius Funk

    Jesus would have done nothing since he is a fictional character. What would Superman do?

    April 5, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  18. Boytjie

    Why marriage....Why noit civil union before a judge with all the rights of a marriage.
    there is a big differnce between marriage and civil is performed by a judge ...the other by a religious leader so why have you got to be married stomping all over our religious rights ..
    The state gives out marriage licenses, not any religion. That officiant at a religious marriage ceremony says: "by the power vested in me BY THE STATE OF..." And you can get married at city hall, you don't get civil unionized.

    April 5, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  19. Boytjie


    Are you kidding me? "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," he wrote. Nelson is a moron! God didn't create homosexuals. Yes, I do believe they were born that way, at least most of them. However, It's not what God intended. According to the book of Genesis, God created man to be with women. Even the laws of nature say that man and women are to be together. They are born that way because of a genetic propensity. That genetic propensity however was orinally brought on and created by man's sin over many years. Don't blame God for creating sin Mr.Nelson.
    So your God makes mistakes?

    April 5, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
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