A Democratic U.S. senator representing a socially conservative state on Sunday night became the latest prominent figure to came out in support of marriage equality.
Via her Tumblr account, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) made her relatively low-key announcement in a posting with a title that cites a biblical passage: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13.”
In her posting, McCaskill says she reached her decision because many of her gay and lesbian friends were embracing long-term committed relationships and she found herself “unable to look them in the eye without honestly confronting this uncomfortable inequality.”
“Supporting marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is simply the right thing to do for our country, a country founded on the principals of liberty and equality,” McCaskill says.
McCaskill notes significant debate is taking place within the United States on marriage rights for same-sex couples and says people of faith of have taken different sides on the issue. She maintains churches shouldn’t be forced to recognize a union that’s inconsistent with their beliefs, but government is a different matter.
“I have come to the conclusion that our government should not limit the right to marry based on who you love,” McCaskill says. “While churches should never be required to conduct marriages outside of their religious beliefs, neither should the government tell people who they have a right to marry.”
McCaskill concludes her posting by predicting the issue won’t be controversial in the future.
“Good people disagree with me,” McCaskill says. “On the other hand, my children have a hard time understanding why this is even controversial. I think history will agree with my children.”
McCaskiil also announced her new position just days before the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.
A.J. Bockelman, executive director of the Missouri LGBT statewide rights group PROMO, praised McCaskill and compared her evolution to that of President Obama’s.
“As we have seen with the President, our own Sen. Claire McCaskill has evolved on marriage equality,” Bockelman said. “We are proud to have her represent fair minded Missourians in the Senate.”
McCaskill comes out for marriage equality just after she won re-election following a closely watched race between her and former Republican Congressman W. Todd Akin, whose campaign imploded when he said a woman’s body can terminate a pregnancy after a “legitimate rape.” McCaskill won’t come up for election again until her six-year term ends in 2018.
The last public statement from McCaskill on same-sex marriage was in an article published Thursday in Politico in which she she was considering the issue, but hadn’t yet come to support marriage rights for gay couples.
“I think there’s a lot of shift going on in the country, and I’m thinking about it,” McCaskill was quoted as saying at the time.
McCaskill has a somewhat strong record on LGBT rights as a member of the Senate, although she hasn’t taken a leadership role on the issue. A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, she was among the those who voted in favor of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal in May 2010 even before the Pentagon report came out for implementing open service later that year.
In the Human Rights Campaign’s most recent congressional scorecard, McCaskill scored a 76 out of 100 points. She lost points for not co-sponsoring bills such as the legislation to repeal DOMA and the Uniting American Families Act.