Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk came out in favor of same-sex marriage on Tuesday, becoming the second Republican senator to do so.
Kirk joins Sen. Rob Portman, who announced a change of heart on the issue three weeks ago. He attributed his change in part to the fact that his own son is gay.
“Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back,” Kirk tweeted Tuesday, linking to a statement in which he expressed his position.
“When I climbed the Capitol steps in January, I promised myself that I would return to the Senate with an open mind and greater respect for others,” said Kirk, who had a stroke last year.
“Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage. Our time on this Earth is limited, I know that better than most. Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back — government has no place in the middle,” he concluded.
In the weeks since Portman announced his new position, during which time the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for and against gay marriage bans, a cavalcade of Democratic Senators have also come out in favor of same-sex marriage.
Only seven Democratic senators have not come out publicly in support of gay marriage: Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida, Joe Donnelly of Ohio, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Landrieu and Pryor are both up for re-election in 2014 in red-leaning states. But other Democrats facing the same situation have publicly announced support for gay marriage — North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan and Alaska Sen. Mark Begich.