2nd GOP Senator, Kirk of Illinois, comes out for gay marriage

It’s raining men!  Republican men.  Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois became the second GOP Senator to endorse gay marriage today, according to his blog.

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.

Wow. It doesn’t get more succinct than that.

Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL)

Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL)

This comes on the heels of Republican Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) coming out for gay marriage two weeks ago, after announcing that his son was gay.

I really don’t think we should undervalue this importance of this, culturally or politically.  It’s becoming harder and harder for Republicans to be anti-gay with a straight face.  The new normal isn’t just pro-gay, it’s pro-marriage-equality.  And as society overall shifts in the more pro-gay direction, the the political parties will continue to shift that way, and the media along with them.

Will and Rob Portman, family photo via CNN.

Will and Rob Portman, family photo via CNN.

I had discussed this media angle this weekend on CNN.  My point was that of course the media is somewhat leaning our way – society is somewhat learning our way.  It’s the media’s job to be objective, but also to be in the middle.  And the middle has shifted.  What was once acceptable television ten years ago – to let religious right loons accuse us on TV of being pedophiles – is now being shut down the TV hosts themselves.  The same thing happened with the civil rights movement in the 60s.  Back then, it was acceptable in media circles to debate whether inter-racial marriage was a good thing or a bad thing.  If you debate that today you’ll be instantly labeled a bigot, and rightly so.  That doesn’t mean the media is now biased on civil rights issues, it means the objective middle moved in the direction of fairness and equality, as it has on gay rights as well.

Understandably the bigoted old guard of the Republican party is flipping out.  Former RNC chair Ed Gillespie says the party will never support same-sex marriage.

Crooks and Liars has some of the transcript:

“I don’t see the Republican Party or most Republicans changing in terms of marriage is between one man and one woman,” Gillespie explained. “I do think that in the context of this debate, as in so many other debates, Republicans have been cast in the negative — you know in the negative, saying we’re opposing something as opposed to talking about what most Republicans are for.”

“Most Republicans are also for the benefits of marriage in the legal system that are afforded protections like, for example, hospital visitation rights or survivorship benefits,” he added. “And I think you’ll hear more Republicans making that point, that we can do those things without having the government sanction same sex marriage.”

Wallace wondered if Gillespie would have any problem with the 2016 Republican Party platform saying that “marriage is between a man and a woman.”

“I wouldn’t have any problem with that,” the former RNC chairman insisted. “I believe the platform right now calls for a federal constitutional amendment to ban it. There may be a debate about that. I don’t think you would ever see the Republican Party platform say we’re in favor of same sex marriage.”

Ooh, hospital visits.  Thanks, Ed.  How very 1993 of you.  Are you for inter-racial marriage too?

As for the not being for a negative, but for a positive, how’s this for a new GOP slogan: “Join the Republican party: We’re not for civil rights, but we oppose slavery!” (* Not applicable in Mississippi that only abolished slavery a few weeks ago.)

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • Well, a white ‘woman’, certainly. Now as for a white ‘man’, that was a horse of a whole different color…

  • rmthunter

    That, too.

  • wmforr

    Skim milk.

  • wmforr

    Wouldn’t it have been easier for the court to create an “Interracial Cohabitation” instead of allowing those who lust outside their race to defile the sacred institution of marriage?

    And why didn’t they just list women as “Female Honorary Partial Citizens” when they gave them the vote?

    Don’t bitch about sitting in the back of the bus, Rosa. Just be glad that your White overlords allow you on the bus at all.

    And: “i why don’t you push for Gay unions, it would pass.

    1. It wouldn’t. The same ones who cry that governmental recognition of marriage should be decided by their churches are vehemently opposed to Civil Unions.

    2. And how does that get us all the Federal benefits reserved only for marriage?

  • rmthunter

    In this case, it looks as though “As Massachusetts goes, so goes the nation.” It just took a little while.

  • rmthunter

    Kirk is probably safe from a primary. The right fringe of the GOP doesn’t get much traction here. Remember, the state GOP chair came out in favor of the marriage equality bill, and an attempt to unseat him flopped. (They’re saying it was a procedural matter, but they didn’t have the votes.) Judy Baar Topinka, who is currently the highest elected GOP official, has been a strong supporter of gay civil rights. Ditto our last GOP governor, George Ryan.

    On the other hand, our real wingnuts tend to have a short shelf life.

    I’m hoping Kirk coming out in favor of SSM will give the marriage bill a little boost in the House.

  • rmthunter

    “Why does it have to say marriage?”

    The word “marriage” itself is one of the benefits. It carries a certain social and cultural meaning that is unique. Singling out same-sex relationships by using another term is deeming them second-class. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court figured that out in 2004 in Goodridge, and the district court nailed it again in 2008 in Perry.

    Or, short answer: Because “equality” means “equality.”

  • silas1898

    Must. Purify. Party.

  • Sweetie

    John is correct. This is a big deal.

  • Sweetie


  • Skeptical Cicada

    LOL! It would appear that you have no fucking idea what “libertarian” means. You’re just a standard-issue militant Christian fascist. Sorry, but I don’t have time to debate morons who don’t even understand the political philosophy they claim to adhere to. Let us know when one federal law denies Christians 1,138 rights in one fell swoop. Until then, spare us the “Christians are persecuted” idiocy.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Yes, separate but equal has always worked so well.

    Please point out the Christian doctrine that says marriage is between a man and a woman. You used the sweeping term Christian. That would mean that all Christian denominations and groups would have the same doctrine. I’m setting you up for a fall, since my husband and I were married in a Lutheran church seven years ago. I didn’t ask my husband to civll union me, and the pastor didn’t say, “I now pronounce you civil unioned.”

    Gay union? Really. I wish you could see the eye roll that went with the really. That term would marginalize every LGBT person in the country.

  • Naja pallida

    Have no fear, I’m sure that anyone in the Republican party who says they are for equal rights will be burned to the ground in a primary against a crowd of right wing nuts who smell blood in the water.

  • Mighty

    I have trust issues in believing all of this. I worry it is just a smoke screen, a mirage. They let a few be ok with gay marriage while still be very against in in the party as a whole. Is Boener still defending DOMA? yep.

  • Ninong

    Actually some states already have civil unions with supposedly all the rights of marriage but they don’t. I’m talking about just state benefits, not federal. It turns out, for example, that many insurance companies are federally regulated because they’re in several states and some of those insurance companies denied coverage for civil-unionized partners on the grounds that they don’t answer to state law in such matters. Their excuse was that the contract says “marriage,” so therefore a civil union doesn’t count no matter what the state law said.

    There are many places in state laws where the word marriage comes up and unless you go back and get the state legislature to pass new laws changing all of those old laws you’re going to have problems.

    What’s your hang-up with “marriage” for same-sex partners? It’s nothing more than a civil contract. If any religious groups wants to stick to their definition of marriage as being only between opposite-sex couples they have the right to do that. No one’s asking them to change any of their religious practices. Religion should just keep out of it. It has no business getting involved in the first place. Nowhere in the Constitution will you find the word God. The First Amendment guarantees freedom from religion as well as freedom of religion.

    The government has no business getting involved in a contract between two consenting adults who wish to share the same benefits other married couples get and without any special change in the name of the contract. That’s complete BS.

  • Ninong

    I was 29 years old when the Loving v. Virginia case was decided and I remember well the mood in the very Deep South at the time. Just realize this: 80% of white people nationwide were against that decision. Now factor in the fact that that number includes the more liberal northeast and west coast and you will get an idea of what the percentage must have been in the Deep South. By my estimation, more than 95% of whites in the Deep South were furious when that decision came down.

    I think I’ve heard it all by now. The same arguments keep getting recycled over and over again, just modified to suit the “enemy” du jour. And they always site the Bible as the basis for their hate.
    We aren’t going to get Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) to vote for gay marriage. It won’t happen. It would be easier to get her to vote to cut tax breaks for the big oil companies, another thing that will never happen. However, Landrieu did vote to repeal DADT and she favors ENDA, so there’s that. Louisiana passed a constitutional amendment banning both gay marriage and civil unions just eight years ago with 78% of the vote. That’s the reason I got back from Landrieu when I sent her an email on this topic.

    In the 2008 presidential election, 62% of white Democrats in Louisiana voted for John McCain, just 38% of us voted for Barack Obama. Think about that for a minute. Sixty-two percent of white DEMOCRATS voted for the Republican candidate for president. That was by far the most outrageous of any state in the union in 2008. No other state came anywhere near that statistic when it came to the percentage of white Democrats who didn’t vote for the Democratic candidate. Gee, I wonder why?

  • MyrddinWilt

    I think it is highly unlikely that the GOP platform is ever going to support same sex marriage but only because it will cease to be an issue the minute the GOP gets out of the way. I doubt the GOP platform mentions opposition to segregation either.

    It doesn’t make any difference either because GOP candidates are not bound to the platform in any way whatsoever. They run as individuals and raise their own money. Romney did not endorse the GOP platform in 2012 and whoever runs in 2016 will run on their own platform.

  • American Patriot

    I am a libertarian and this heterosexual/gay marriage topic is such a farce, it goes along with if you say something enough, no matter how false it is, it must be true…if you say it enough.

    If you stand up for Gay Marriage you’re a freedom fighter; if you stand up for traditional marriage you are a bigot? The truth is neither is right; you are just standing for what you believe. For thousands of years marriage has always been heterosexual but now instead of looking at the truth we want to look at symptoms. If equality in partnership and having the same “Legal Rights” as a married heterosexual group is what gays want then go with a “Gay Union” with all the “Legal Rights” of a heterosexual marriage….. but this isn’t what you want. A gay union would grant the same “Legal Rights” as a married heterosexual group and would sweep through the land vitality unopposed; so the question would be; Why does it have to say marriage?

    I as a libertarian have watched as over the last forty years specifically Christianity, not religion has been attacked more and more viciously every day although I have to also admit the Christians haven’t stood up for themselves much either. I remember a public Christian school which was shutdown due to separation of church and state (which isn’t really in the Constitution) but they have public “Muslim schools http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/Islam-in-America-s-public-schools-Education-or-2482820.php) isn’t this being hypocritical and it’s mandated in California that students must go through a Muslim class but not a Christian one. I know, what does this have to do with marriage.

    It is really simple being an outsider looking in, the left hates the right so much (and vise-versa) that they want to stomp out any part of Christianity including the historical and Christian doctrine that Marriage is between a man and a women. This is proven by three facts, 1st how can you have a Muslim public schools but close down Christian ones, 2nd how can you mandate Muslim classes be taught in public schools but band Christian ones, and 3rd if a gay union will give you all the rights you desire why does it have to say marriage, attacking what true Christians hold very sacred. From what I’ve seen, to the left tolerance only goes one way, theirs, if tolerance is asked for in the reverse, it is only met with name calling and character assassinations. We libertarian are stuck in the middle watching the lack of tolerance from both sides and the flat out lies being told to shift the argument to the symptom instead of the true reason. There is only one question I want to ask.

    If equality in partnership and having the same “Legal Rights” as a married heterosexual group is what gay and lesbian couples want then why don’t you push for Gay unions, it would pass. Before you answer, if you are just going to be a belligerent, name calling, and act ignorant because you don’t have a good discussion point; please don’t reply. If we can have a good discussion where two people can agree or agree to disagree still respecting each other’s differing views then let’s talk.

    American Patriot


  • I dated a few beasts back in the wild days and never once regretted it.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Another bigot rebrands.

  • They didn’t let it pass, actually. For many of the more virulent racists, they felt that a white person sleeping with a person of color was the same thing as bestiality.

  • Go Ohio with caveat: As goes California so goes the nation.

  • “- Allowing interracial marriage would be a ‘slippery slope’ resulting in legalized polygamy, pedophilia, and incest.”
    What? No beastiality? How’d they let that one slip by them?

  • The tectonic shift isn’t that it’s a couple of GOPers renouncing one of the central planks in the Republican wedge-issue platform. It’s that they’re willing to violate current GOP dogma. A single vote in favor of gun control or to raise taxes is enough to bring on Tea Bagger primary challengers or to have the RNC turn off the party’s money spigot.

    This is a party whose platform calls for a Constitutional amendment to forever ban same-sex marriage, and not a single prominent Republican spoke out against it.

    BTW, there’s a fascinating article in the Atlantic Wire (link at the bottom), listing all the parallels between arguments used against interracial marriage and same-sex marriage. Some key points:

    – Allowing interracial marriage would be a ‘slippery slope’ resulting in legalized polygamy, pedophilia, and incest.

    – It would be bad for the children who, being of mixed race, would be forever stigmatized and disadvantaged. They even claimed there was scientific proof that it was bad for kids. (Fun fact: 1 in 10 marriages in America now are between different races and/or ethnicities..)

    – The original Virginia argument in the Loving case went much further:

    Virginia didn’t merely critique the parenting skills of interracial couples—the state attacked their very mental stability. Again citing Gordon, McIlwaine claimed that people who have the temerity to engage in interracial marriage have a “rebellious attitude towards society, self-hatred, neurotic tendencies, immaturity, and other detrimental psychological factors.” The implication was that these qualities rendered them unfit parents.

    Source for this bit: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2013/03/gay_marriage_at_the_supreme_court_did_interracial_marriage_opponents_claim.html

    – They frequently cited the Bible, their religious beliefs, and sacred traditions as to why it was morally wrong to ‘mix the races.’

    – They also argued that it was contrary to what a majority of Americans wanted, and thus should not be allowed on democratic grounds. (Fun fact #2: An overwhelming majority of Americans were against interracial marriage when all of the anti-miscegenation laws were overturned. The Supreme Court ruled to overturn anyway, finding for Equal Protection and Due Process. Now a majority of Americans are in favor of allowing for same-sex marriage equality — and the Justices are clearly beyond reluctant to find such a right to marriage for gay people in the Constitution under the same provisions.)

    – Interestingly, the opposition to interracial marriage also claimed that allowing it would result in harm to the Caucasian race. I’m not sure how the connection works here, but it was widely reported that Jodie Brunstetter, the wife of a North Carolina state senator, Peter Brunstetter, said that a gay marriage ban would help stall the decline of “the Caucasian race.” I’m also guessing they think that allowing gays and lesbians and marry will result in more people ‘turning’ gay. I dunno — maybe she thinks tolerance is a contagious disease or something.

    – It was often cited that there was something inherently immoral and degenerate about the races mixing at all, even socially.

    On May 3, 1908, The New York Times reprinted national coverage of something called the “Black and Tan Festivity,” which apparently was an event in which black people and white people ate together in New York City. While many local papers in the South were outraged by the events, the Richmond News Leader wasn’t too concerned that Yankee immorality would creep down South. “Of course, the whole affair was eminently disgusting, but really it does not concern the South in the least. It is a matter of Northern taste, though taste most offensive to the every instinct of every man and women who as a right to be recognized as white, and not a Caucasian degenerate and pariah.”

    In the article, they likened it to the way GOP Presidential Candidate Trip Moneybags Biff Rimjob… (what was his name…? oh yeah) Willard Mittington Rmoney expressed fears of a “Las Vegas of gay marriage” — creating the image of a corrupt, immoral town full of gambling, debauchery, and whores.

    (Source for the rest of this comment: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2012/05/funny-how-arguments-against-gay-marriage-are-just-those-against-miscegenation/52108/)

  • silas1898

    Trying to get on the bandwagon before it leaves the depot? The big, bad, devil, Chicago Machine made him do it? He’ll say anything to get re-elected. Come on teabaggers, primary his sorry butt.
    And Ed, please crawl back under your rock.

  • It’s still better than Sam Arora’s behavior on this issue…

  • Drew2u

    somebody read the tea leaves on Illinois Equality?

  • jomicur

    I know it isn’t charitable to speculate, but I can’t help wondering if someone threatened to out him. The rumors have been around for a while, after all. Either way, he deserves credit for this.

    But a tectonic shift? More like a minor tremor. The dishes on the shelves may be rattling, but there’s no danger of the roof collapsing.

  • Ninong

    I read your headline wrong at first glance. I thought you were telling us that Mark Kirk had finally decided to come out of the closet but I see it’s actually better than that. He finally came out in favor of gay marriage. Okay, I guess he can stay in the closet and keep marrying to make it look like he’s straight if that’s what he wants to do but I still think he’s gay.

  • S1AMER

    2 in the Senate and 2 in the House supporting marriage equality is a little rumble, not a tectonic shift. A tectonic shift may be coming, but we ain’t there yet.

    That said, I’m very pleased about Kirk. I expect this will help nudge state House Republicans (and timid Democrats) forward toward passing the marriage bill. I’d love to see Illinois become the Big Tenth state on marriage!


    COLUMBUS – Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, applauded Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, for being the second GOP member of the U.S. Senate to support marriage equality.

    “As goes Ohio so goes the nation. Two weeks ago, Ohio Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman announced his support for marriage equality and today his colleague Mark Kirk from Illinois becomes the second Republican in the U.S. Senate to join him. We believe that with each passing day more and more leaders will embrace the civil rights issue of our generation and call for an end to marriage discrimination,” James said.

    “We still must change the Ohio Constitution to give a same-gender loving couple the right to go to city hall and get a marriage license so they can protect and provide for one another and their family. At the same time, our clear and simple 46-word amendment protects religious freedom by guaranteeing that houses of worship can choose to marry or not marry, recognize or not recognize, a same-gender marriage,” James said.


    For more information:
    Dennis Willard
    [email protected]

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