Sens. Joe Donnelly, Heidi Heitkamp Support Marriage Equality

Jim Burroway

April 5th, 2013

Here’s Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN)’s statement supporting “marriage equality for all“:

In recent years, our country has been involved in an important discussion on the issue of marriage equality. While serving in the House of Representatives, I had the opportunity to act on a core belief of mine: we are a stronger country when we draw on the strengths of all Americans. I voted to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and was an original supporter of the bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against someone in the workplace because of their sexual orientation. It is also for that reason that I oppose amending either Indiana’s or our nation’s constitution to enshrine in those documents an ‘us’ and a ‘them,’ instead of a ‘we.’ With the recent Supreme Court arguments and accompanying public discussion of same-sex marriage, I have been thinking about my past positions and votes. In doing so, I have concluded that the right thing to do is to support marriage equality for all.”

At about the same time as Donnelley’s statement came out — within minutes of each other, according to news reports — Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) also released a statement which, in a somewhat less direct way, comes around to supporting marriage equality:

In speaking with North Dakotans from every corner of our great state, and much personal reflection, I have concluded the federal government should no longer discriminate against people who want to make lifelong, loving commitments to each other or interfere in personal, private, and intimate relationships.  I view the ability of anyone to marry as a logical extension of this belief. The makeup of families is changing, but the importance of family is enduring.

Sens. Donnelly and Heitkamp join fellow Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill (MO),  Mark Warner (VA), Mark Begich (AK), Jay Rockefeller (WV), Jon Tester (MT), Kay Hagen (NC), Bob Casey(PA), Tom Carper (DE), and Bill Nelson (FL)  in shifting to the right side of history over the past two weeks. This leaves only four Democratic holdouts in the Senate: Tim Johnson (SD), Mary Landrieu (LA), Joe Manchin (WV), and Mark Pryor (AR). The avalanche of new support for marriage equality in the Senate began on March 15 when Sen. Rob Portman(R-OH) became the first sitting Republican Senator to announce his support for marriage equality. On Tuesday, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) joined his fellow Republican in making the switch. At this point, I am seriously, seriously wondering what on earth is keeping Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) from making a similar announcement.



April 5th, 2013

I can’t believe there are people who actually think that all these senators (Democratic and Republican) changed their minds exactly when they said they did (or changed their minds at all), or for the exact reasons that they claimed. It just seems so…naive? Or biased – wanting to make political reality fit a narrative?

Timothy Kincaid

April 5th, 2013

I too have been wondering about Collins. Her latest statement says everything but “yes, i support equality”. Lisa Murkowski is also a possibility

Lindoro Almaviva

April 5th, 2013

I absolutely agree, it is self serving, but the avalanche is there and they have realized that this is no longer about their “principles” but about political survival. Either way, because of a change of heart, because of cynicism, or just because they are being bullied by their families,friends, or colleagues, the hard fact is that they now see they will not be able to survive if they do not embrace diversity.

I will meet their cinicism with my own dose of it, i am willing to take either scenario.


April 5th, 2013

Paradigm shift.

I’m sure there’s an element of opportunism here — these are U.S. senators, after all, and their prime focus is staying in the Senate. I’m also sure they are able to read polls as well as anyone. It’s even possible that some of them were paying attention to the arguments before the Supreme Court and thought that maybe, just maybe, they should rethink their positions, since Cooper and Clement looked like they were scrabbling around desperately for something to hang on to.

And maybe even one or two of them are honest enough to realize that they were wrong.

At any rate, they’re on record now. That’s fine by me.

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