Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey on Monday became the latest U.S. senator to announce his support for marriage rights for same-sex couples.
“As a senator and as a citizen, I can no longer in good conscience take a position that denies her and her family the full measure of equality and respect,” the Democrat said in a statement after reading a letter he received from a Pennsylvania woman who talked about her partner and their children. “I understand that many Americans of good will have strong feelings on both sides of this issue. I believe elected public officials have an abiding obligation to refrain from demonizing and dividing people for partisan or political gain. Rather, Democrats and Republicans should come together and find areas of agreement to do what’s best for the country, including lesbian and gay Americans.”
Casey, who first announced his support of same-sex marriage during an interview with a reporter from the Morning Call newspaper in Allentown, Pa., earlier on Monday, backed the issue less than a week after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in cases that challenge California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.
U.S. Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.,) Tim Kaine (D-Va.,) Mark Warner (D-Va.,) John Tester (D-Mont.,) Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.,) Mark Begich (D-Alaska,) Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) all endorsed marriage rights for same-sex couples in the days and weeks before the justices heard oral arguments in the two cases. U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.,) Mary Landrieu (D-La.,) Mark Pryor (D-Ark.,) Bill Nelson (D-Fla.,) Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.,) Tom Carper (D-Del.,) Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) are the only Senate Democrats who have yet to publicly back nuptials for gays and lesbians.
“Senator Casey is a thoughtful and contemplative man who today not only listened to the millions of voices of Pennsylvanians calling for him to support same-sex marriage, but strongly voiced that support as well,” gay Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) said. “I am pleased to see Senator Casey responding to the voices of his constituents and am eager to work with him in reaching out to the hundreds of thousands of LGBT Pennsylvanians who can now count on his support for LGBT equality.”
Adrian Shanker, president of Equality Pennsylvania, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, also applauded Casey.
“Marriage matters for all families,” Shanker said. “Senator Casey’s support for marriage for all committed couples puts him squarely on the right side of history.”