Another Senate Democrat Backs Gay Marriage

Sen. Bob Casey joins four other Democratic Senators who have switched their views on gay marriage in the past two weeks.

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Tim Shaffer / REUTERS

Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA) speaks to supporters during his election night rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania November 6, 2012.

In another victory for gay rights advocates, Bob Casey (Penn.) has joined the rush of Senate Democrats—recently including Kay Hagan (N.C.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Mark Warner (Va.), and Claire McCaskill (Mo.)— who now endorse same sex marriage in America.

“After much deliberation and after reviewing the legal, public policy and civil-rights questions presented, I support marriage equality for same-sex couples and believe that DOMA should be repealed,” Casey told the Philadelphia Gay News today.

The reversal comes after intense public pressure on Casey, a pro-life Catholic who is among Washington’s more culturally conservative Democrats. His office received some 10,000 calls and emails in recent days urging him to follow his fellow Democrats who have reversed their opposition to the right of gays to marry, according to central Pennsylvania’s PennLive. A wide range of groups applied pressure, including Marriage Equality for Pennsylvania, Keystone Progress, Equality Pennsylvania and MoveOn.org.

In a statement detailing his new position, Casey said the letters to his office from LGBT Pennsylvanians pleading with him to reconsider had a “substantial impact on my position on this issue.” “At a time when many Americans lament a lack of commitment in our society between married men and women, why would we want less commitment and fewer strong marriages?”

But Casey may also have been influenced by recent polling suggesting majority support for gay marriage in his state: Fifty-two percent of Pennsylvanians now support same-sex marriage, according to a February Franklin and Marshall College poll, a figure that roughly matches recent national opinion surveys.

Casey, who was already a supporter of civil unions, had sent recent signals that he was reconsidering his marriage position. Two weeks ago, his spokesperson told TIME that Casey “is closely following the debate” around the Defense of Marriage Act, whose constitutionality has been challenged before the Supreme Court.

There are now eight Senate Democrats who still disapprove of same-sex marriage: Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Bill Nelson (Fl.), Tom Carper (Del.), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.). According to The Hill, there are only 11 Democrats in the House who join this group. Of the 45 Republican Senators, only Rob Portman (Oh.) approves of same-sex marriage.

7 comments
tgm404
tgm404

I think we should ban Bigot Marriage. It certainly isn't good for the children.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

I wonder why media types (and there are more than just at TIME) are obsessing over latest D's to support marriage equality and not R's, THAT list would be more intriguing thanks to teavangelical bigotry. I'm guessing the R list won't grow any longer, boring to cover a non-event. Also, D's know how to play favorable odds (marriage equality approval rising in polls), R's stick to their losing habits. Since only R's show up on Sunday morning teevee shows, it would be fun to poll McCain and every R if they support ME every Sunday and watch 'em squirm and rant.

notsacredh
notsacredh

Here's something I really like about the public's change in opinion on same-sex marriiage, it used to be that an opinion like that could kill one of our candidate's chances. Now it may actually help. Democrats won't have to sidestep this issue, they can make it an issue just like the republicans played to the public sentiment 10-15 years ago. We can play to it now and watch them either try to placate their base and maintain an anti same-sex marriage position and hurt their chances with the general electorate or they can come out in favor and lose their base.

notsacredh
notsacredh

deconstructiva, with the way public opinion has shifted, I think the media's coverage of the democrats that come out in favor is almost the same as their relative silence on the republicans that haven't. It's like before the last election. The media was running far more articles and stories on what the republican candidates were saying and doing. They just happened to be doing and saying some pretty offensive stuff that turned off a lot of voters. I think it was a defacto endorsement of the democrats. I believe this falls into the same category.

PerryWhite1
PerryWhite1

@sacredh It is something Republicans still don't get. But that's fine -- let them consign themselves to irrelevancy.


PerryWhite1
PerryWhite1

@sacredh I don't think so, and I say that despite agreeing with what you say 99.9%  of the time. One of the problems of today's media is that they always assume the GOP's framing of any issue, and talk about the GOP, pro or con, endlessly.


Why are we talking about the deficit (which the GOP created) when jobs are the paramount issue?

Why are we talking about background checks, which the GOP is OK with, instead of a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, which they are not? Most of the country is behind the latter issue, but our media keeps talking about the GOP position.

 And so forth.

We need to stop talking about what the GOP wants to talk about, and framing the issues in the way the GOP wants them framed, or we are going to remain in the 19th Century.

notsacredh
notsacredh

To expound on this a little bit, I think it's comparable to a bunch of people in a room and most of them are talking about doing something. The few people that sit there and don't say anything are the ones that really get the attention. Everyone else is looking at them and thinking "Well....". Their silence says more than words.