The Slatest

Just Three Senate Dems Oppose Gay Marriage

Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) (L) shakes hands with Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senator Tim Johnson announced on Monday that he now supports gay marriage rights. His reversal on the issue brings the total number of senators who support same-sex marriage to fifty four.

Here’s his statement to reporters (via the Argus-Leader):

“After lengthy consideration, my views have evolved sufficiently to support marriage equality legislation…This position doesn’t require any religious denomination to alter any of its tenets; it simply forbids government from discrimination regarding who can marry whom.”


Johnson, who represents South Dakota, will not seek re-election next year. With his announcement, there are now only three Senate Democrats who oppose gay marriage. They are: 

  • Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Up for re-election in 2018.
  • Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. Up for re-election in 2014.
  • Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas. Up for re-election in 2014.

Last week, Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota became the 12th and 13th senators in a month to reverse their stance on allowing gays and lesbians to wed.

As for Republicans, both Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk have expressed their support for gay marriage, with Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski raising speculation that she may, too, end up supporting it after suggesting last month that she’s still “evolving” on the issue.

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