Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine (Va.), Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.), and Jon Tester (Mont.) have joined a growing list of U.S. senators that have backed extending marriage rights to same-sex couples.
Also among the senators clarifying their same-sex marriage support in recent days are Alaska Sen. Mark Begich (D), and as the Blade has reported, Virginia’s Mark Warner (D), Missouri’s Claire McCaskill (D) and Ohio’s Robert Portman (R).
In a statement to the Washington Blade, Kaine echoed a remark made this week to the Times Dispatch of Richmond.
“I believe all people, regardless of sexual orientation, should be guaranteed the full rights to the legal benefits and responsibilities of marriage under the Constitution,” Kaine’s statement reads. “I hope the Supreme Court will affirm that principle.”
Joining Kaine is West Virginia’s Rockefeller, who told ABC News that he believes same-sex couples should have the right to marry.
“Churches and ministers should never have to perform marriages that violate their religious beliefs, but the government shouldn’t discriminate against people who want to marry just because of their gender,” Rockefeller said in a statement emailed to ABC News yesterday, emphasizing his evolution on the topic, influenced by the younger members of his family.
West Virginia bars same-sex couples from marrying in law, but the state has not amended its constitution to bar such nuptials, leaving the door open for the legislature there to change the law in the future.
Also among those backing full marriage rights for same-sex couples is Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, whose Montana — like Virginia, Missouri, Ohio and Alaska — bars such nuptials in the state constitution.
“Montanans believe in the right to make a good life for their families. How they define a family should be their business and their business alone,” Tester wrote. “I’m proud to support marriage equality because no one should be able to tell a Montanan or any American who they can love and who they can marry.”
Recent polls have shown a marked increase in support for same-sex marriage in America, with growth particularly strong among the youngest voters.
The avalanche of senatorial support comes as the Supreme Court hears oral arguments this week in two cases that broach the topic of same-sex marriage recognition. Hollingsworth v. Perry, whose arguments were heard today, challenges California’s Proposition 8, which barred same-sex marriage in the state’s constitution, after couples nuptials had been opened to gay and lesbian couples for several months by the state Supreme Court. On Wednesday, the court will hear arguments in a case seeking to strike down the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage, among other tenets.