Senator Mark Kirk (R-Highland Park), is now the second Republican senator to announce his support of same-sex marriage, reports the Huffington Post.
On his blog, Kirk wrote:
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.
Kirk is the 50th senator to back gay marriage and only the second Republican senator to express his support after Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who changed his position after his son revealed he was gay, according to NBC5 Chicago.
Kirk has had a liberal voting record on gay issues, voting to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell as a senator and voting against a constitutional amendment to make marriage between one man and one woman, reported NBC5 Chicago.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, is celebrating Kirk's position along with an announcement from Sen. Tom Carper (D-Delaware) that he too supports same-sex marriage.
"Senator Kirk and Senator Carper have shown tremendous leadership in announcing their support for marriage equality," said HRC Presidnt Chad Griffin in a statement released Tuesday.
"It is a sign of our progress that so many of their colleagues are showing the same political will. Democrat or Republican, there can simply be no excuse for standing on the wrong side of history when it comes to this basic question of justice."
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases involving gay marriage last week, reported Patch. A ruling on the cases – one involving the federal government's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the other a challenge to California's Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage – should come in June.
In a recent Patch poll, 60 percent of respondents indicated they believe gay marriage is a constitutional right.
Poll: Is Gay Marriage A Constitutional Right?
Patch Flash: IL Senate Says Yes to Gay Marriage Bill