The attention surrounding the Supreme Court’s hearings on a pair of marriage equality cases has resulted in an explosion of Democratic lawmakers (and one Republican) coming to Jesus on gay marriage, a trend which continued Tuesday morning when Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) announced his support for legal same-sex marriage. In a posting on his Facebook page, Senator Carper cited God, prayer, and “the Golden Rule” as factors in his decision. Carper’s conversion leaves just seven Senate Democrats and forty-four Senate Republicans who have not endorsed marriage equality.
As our society has changed and evolved, so too has the public’s opinion on gay marriage – and so has mine. I pray every day for God to grant me the wisdom to do what is right. Through my prayers and conversations with my family and countless friends and Delawareans, I’ve been reminded of the power of one of my core values: the Golden Rule. It calls on us to treat others as we want to be treated. That means, to me, that all Americans ultimately should be free to marry the people they love and intend to share their lives with, regardless of their sexual orientation, and that’s why today, after a great deal of soul searching, I’m endorsing marriage equality.
When reading one of these explanations, which invariably involve God and prayer and doing what’s right, there’s rarely, if ever, a recognition that prior to the conversion, somebody was wrong. Did God forget to charge his iPhone for forty years? Did recognizing the full humanity of others suddenly become right?
Having said that, even before today’s announcement, Sen. Carper wasn’t really part of the problem; his record on LGBT rights was pretty good. From On The Issues:
Let state legislatures decide who can get married. (Oct 2012)
Repeal DOMA; it’s unconstitutional. (Oct 2012)
Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. (Oct 2012)
Favors requiring companies to hire more women & minorities. (Sep 2000)
Supports “Sexual orientation protected by civil rights laws”. (Sep 2000)
Voted NO on recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration. (Jun 2006)
Voted NO on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. (Jun 2006)
Voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes. (Jun 2002)
Rated 67% by the HRC, indicating a mixed record on gay rights. (Dec 2006)
With a record like that, though, it’s tough to understand why Carper would need this much time to come out in favor of marriage equality, just as it was to understand President Obama’s glacial evolution. You’re paying whatever political price there is for voting in favor of equality, while passing on the political benefit by not endorsing it.
The seven remaining Democratic holdouts in the Senate are: Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR).
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