Republican Sen. Mark Kirk becomes 50th U.S. Senator to support the freedom to marry

Today, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) announced his support for the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. He wrote on his blog this morning:

"When I climbed the Capitol steps in January, I promised myself that I would return to the Senate with an open mind and greater respect for others. Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage. Our time on this earth is limited, I know that better than most. Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back. Government has no place in the middle." 

Sen. Kirk is now the 50th U.S. Senator in today's Congress to stand on the Right Side of History. In the past week, nine Democratic Senators have made their support for the freedom to marry public. Check out this round-up to view all of the statements from the Senators who have voiced their support this week. 

Freedom to Marry founder and President Evan Wolfson applauded Sen. Kirk's move today. He said:

With Senator Kirk's support, the U.S. Senate is now ready to move to the right side of history in support of same-sex couples' freedom to marry. Just as we have seen a majority of Americans embrace the freedom to marry, so the Senate is now on the verge of a majority for marriage. As members of Congress are talking with their family, friends, colleagues, and constituents, they come to understand why marriage matters to gay couples as to non-gay, and speak up in support of fairness and freedom. Senator Kirk's heartfelt words about values of treating others as we'd all want to be treated in our precious time on this planet powerfully make the case for the freedom to marry - and the need for decision-makers to end marriage discrimination in the United States.

Sen. Kirk's announcement also makes him the second sitting Republican Senator ever to publicly support marriage, following Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), who announced support in March. Portman endorsed the freedom to marry after speaking with his son, who came out as gay, and reflecting on why marriage matters.

Illinois, which Sen. Kirk represents, is currently considering a bill that would extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples across the state. The bill passed out of the IL Senate in February and was advanced through a House committee as well. It awaits a full hearing and vote in the House.