GOP Sen. Murkowski says her view on gay marriage is 'evolving'

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) said Wednesday that her view on same-sex marriage is "evolving."

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"The term 'evolving view' has been perhaps overused, but I think it is an appropriate term for me to use," Murkowski said in an address to the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, according to the Chugiak-Eagle River Star.

"I think it's important to acknowledge that there is a change afoot in this country in terms of how marriage is viewed," Murkowski added.

President Obama similarly described his own views on same-sex marriage. Before Obama became the first sitting president to announce his support for same-sex marriage in May 2012, he said that his views on the issue were "evolving."

Murkowski's comments come after the Supreme Court this week held hearings on two gay-marriage cases. The high court cases and polls showing greater public acceptance of gay rights have led to many of Murkowski's fellow senators publicly announcing their support for gay marriage.

A number of Senate Democrats this week announced their support, with many hailing from swing states or traditionally Republican strongholds, including Sens. Mark Begich (Alaska), Mark Warner (Va.), and Claire McCaskill (Mo.).

Only one of Murkowski's GOP Senate colleagues, though, has publicly backed gay marriage, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who announced his support last week, citing his openly gay son as a motivating factor.

But other high-profile Republicans, no longer in public office, have offered their support, including former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Bush Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez.

The senior senator from Alaska has voted for measures which define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. In 1998 Alaska passed a similar amendment to its state constitution. Murkowski said the state may also eventually review its stance.

"It may be that Alaska will come to revisit its position on gay marriage, and as a policymaker I am certainly reviewing that very closely," Murkowski said.

Murkowski said that there were other, bigger topics to focus on than whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

"We have so many issues in this country to focus on that worry us, that I question why there is such focus on the simple right of people to love whom they will," Murkowski said.