The Slatest

The Number of Senate Republicans Backing Gay Marriage Could Soon Double

Sen. Lisa Murkowski could become only the second Republican senator to back gay marriage—although she says she’s not there just yet

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

GOP Sen. Rob Portman made headlines earlier this month when he came out in favor of gay marriage. That surprise announcement was followed by something that resembled a mini-stampede by some of his Democratic colleagues who had yet to do the same. Portman’s fellow Republicans, however, have shown little sign of following his lead. But the Ohio senator, currently the only GOP senator to back gay marriage, may soon have company within his own caucus. Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski told local media outlets yesterday that her views on gay marriage are “evolving,” although she stressed that she’s not ready to back same-sex marriage just yet.


Here she is in the Chugiak-Eagle River Star:

“I think it’s important to acknowledge that there is a change afoot in this country in terms of how marriage is viewed,” said Alaska’s senior senator, who has in the past voted to support proposed constitutional amendments defining marriage as between one man and one woman. … When asked about same sex marriage — which is currently being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court in two separate cases — Murkowski seemed to indicate a softening on her previous stance.


“I’ve got two young sons who, when I ask them and their friends how they feel about gay marriage, kinda give me one of those looks like, ‘Gosh mom, why are you even asking that question?’” When pressed to come out either for or against gay marriage, Murkwoski said her view is “evolving.” …


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

And then in a follow-up interview with Alaska Public Media:

“I think you are seeing a change in attitude, change in tolerance, I guess, and an acceptance that what marriage should truly be about is a lasting, loving, committed relationship with respect to the individual.”

Alaska’s other senator, Democrat Mark Begich, recently came out in support of gay marriage. It’s worth remembering that Murkowski actually lost her state’s 2010 GOP primary to Joe Miller, a Sarah Palin-backed challenger, but went on to retain her seat by way of a rather historic write-in campaign that earned her another six-year term.

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