Dem Sen. Bob Casey supports gay marriage, urges repeal of DOMA

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said Monday that he now supports gay marriage and the overturn of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), becoming the latest in a wave of lawmakers to back same-sex marriages.

"If two people of the same sex fall in love and want to marry, why would our government stand in their way? At a time when many Americans lament a lack of commitment in our society between married men and women, why would we want less commitment and fewer strong marriages?" Casey said in a statement to The Morning Call.

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Casey said that his decision to oppose DOMA followed his change of heart on same-sex marriages.

"I ultimately decided that to make a decision about DOMA was making a decision about marriage equality itself," Casey told the paper.

The Supreme Court last week heard oral arguments on both a challenge of the federal law, which bars the government from distributing certain spousal benefits to same-sex couples, and a California ballot initiative that banned gay marriage in the state. Gay-rights activists hope a favorable ruling could strike down prohibitions on same-sex marriage across the United States.

Casey's decision means now just eight of the 53 Democrats in the Senate do not support gay marriage. But every Republican senator except Ohio's Rob Portman — who said last month that his gay son had led him to change his mind — opposes same-sex marriages.

Casey had previously backed civil unions, but stopped short of supporting gay marriage. The senator had also declined to stake out a position on DOMA.