Wednesday, June 19, 2013

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) Endorses Marriage Equality

Lisa Murkowski, the Senior United States Senator from Alaska, made history today as the 3rd Republican U.S. Senator to publicly announce her support for marriage equality. Murkowski is considered a somewhat moderate member of her caucus, and is also the first Republican female Senator to endorse marriage equality. The other two Republican senators who support full marriage rights for same-sex couples are Mark Kirk of Illinois (2nd Republican Senator to do so) and Rob Portman of Ohio (first Republican to do so, in response to his son's coming out as gay).

Here is an excerpt from the statement on her official Senate website:
The Supreme Court is set to make a pair of decisions on the topic of marriage equality shortly, and the national conversation on this issue is picking back up. This is a significant moment for our nation when it comes to rethinking our society’s priorities and the role of government in Americans’ private lives and decisions, so I want to be absolutely clear with Alaskans. I am a life-long Republican because I believe in promoting freedom and limiting the reach of government.  When government does act, I believe it should encourage family values.  I support the right of all Americans to marry the person they love and choose because I believe doing so promotes both values:  it keeps politicians out of the most private and personal aspects of peoples’ lives – while also encouraging more families to form and more adults to make a lifetime commitment to one another.  While my support for same sex civil marriage is something I believe in, I am equally committed to guaranteeing that religious freedoms remain inviolate, so that churches and other religious institutions can continue to determine and practice their own definition of marriage.

With the notion of marriage – an exclusive, emotional, binding ‘til death do you part’ tie – becoming more and more an exception to the rule given a rise in cohabitation and high rates of divorce, why should the federal government be telling adults who love one another that they cannot get married, simply because they happen to be gay?   I believe when there are so many forces pulling our society apart, we need more commitment to marriage, not less.

This thinking is consistent with what I hear from more and more Alaskans especially our younger generations.  Like the majority of Alaskans, I supported a constitutional amendment in 1998 defining marriage as only between a man and a woman, but my thinking has evolved as America has witnessed a clear cultural shift.  Fifteen years after that vote, I find that when one looks closer at the issue, you quickly realize that same sex unions or civil marriages are consistent with the independent mindset of our state – and they deserve a hands-off approach from our federal policies.
I think as the Supreme Court cases get released there will be a flood of similar statements as politicians use the opportunity of a major change from the United States Supreme Court towards LGBT equality to articulate their opinion change on LGBT equality as well.

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