Senate Democrats who oppose gay marriage are becoming an endangered species. Today Florida Senator Bill Nelson told the Tampa Bay Times: “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.” Nelson added that he will add his name to the petition of senators urging the Supreme Court to declare prohibitions on gay marriage unconstitutional.
Nelson joins six other Senate Democrats—Tom Carper (Del.), Bob Casey (Pa.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Mark Warner (Va.), and Claire McCaskill (Mo.)—who have flipped on the issue of same-sex marriage in the past two weeks. Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois also backed gay marriage earlier this week. That makes Nelson the 51st senator to support same-sex marriage, giving the position majority backing in the U.S. Senate.
On Tuesday I mentioned that Nelson would “be a good bet” to endorse gay marriage due to public opinion in his state. According to a Washington Post poll from October, 54% of Floridians think same-sex marriage should be legal. Nelson also voted for the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in 2010.
There are now six Senate Democrats who disapprove of gay marriage: Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.).