March 27, 2013 | by Phil Reese
Sen. Hagan on marriage: ‘It’s time to move forward’
Kay Hagan, United States Senate, Democratic Party, North Carolina, gay news, Washington Blade

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) joins six other Senate Democrats in backing same-sex marriage this week, as the issue is taken up at the Supreme Court. (Photo courtesy Hagan’s office)

Yet another Democratic U.S. Senator has spoken out in favor of extending marriage rights to same-sex couples, this time North Carolina’s Kay Hagan, who took to her Facebook page Wednesday morning to declare her support.

“Marriage equality is a complex issue with strong feelings on both sides, and I have a great deal of respect for varying opinions on the issue,” the first-term Senator wrote. “After much thought and prayer, I have come to my own personal conclusion that we shouldn’t tell people who they can love or who they can marry.”

Hagan joins Senate Democratic colleagues Tim Kaine (Va.), John Tester (Mont.), Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Mark Warner (Va.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.) in coming around in recent days, as the Supreme Court hears challenges to Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Earlier this month, Ohio’s Republican Senator Rob Portman announced his change of heart, saying he was influenced when his son came out as gay, setting off what seems to be a domino effect with his fellow senators on the other side of the aisle.

Hagan opposed last year’s ballot measure to amend North Carolina’s constitution to explicitly bar same-sex nuptials. The measure, however, known as Amendment One, passed with 61 percent support from voters. Shortly after, President Obama revealed to ABC News’ Robin Roberts that he had come around to support extending marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Hagan faces a 2014 election in a red state where in 2012 Barack Obama lost the state’s support after winning North Carolina in 2008. Hagan’s support comes one day after the Huffington Post included her in a list of 10 Senate Democrats that the site believed should publicly back same-sex marriage. Others on that list include Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).

The Senator’s full Facebook statement supporting marriage equality, read as follows:

Marriage equality is a complex issue with strong feelings on both sides, and I have a great deal of respect for varying opinions on the issue. After much thought and prayer, I have come to my own personal conclusion that we shouldn’t tell people who they can love or who they can marry.

This wasn’t a decision I came to overnight, like my Republican colleague Rob Portman expressed recently on his own viewpoint. Last year, I opposed Amendment One because I was concerned about the negative consequences it could have on North Carolina families and our economy. The fabric of North Carolina and what makes our state so special is our families and our common desire for a brighter future for our children. No matter what your family looks like, we all want the same thing for our families – happiness, health, prosperity, a bright future for our children and grandchildren.

Religious institutions should have religious freedom on this issue. No church or minister should ever have to conduct a marriage that is inconsistent with their religious beliefs. But I think as a civil institution, this issue’s time has come and we need to move forward. Jobs and the economy are the number one issue for me and for North Carolinians right now, and I’m not going to take my eye off that ball at a time when so many are still struggling.

“I know there are strong feelings on both sides, and I have a great deal of respect for their opinions,” Hagan said later in the day Wednesday in an interview with the News & Observer. “But after much thought and prayer on my part this is where I am today.”

 

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