Sens. Donnelly, Heitkamp announce support for same-sex marriage

Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) announced Friday they support same-sex marriage, joining a rush of Democratic senators who have recently come out in favor. 

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Heitkamp and Donnelly's respective announcements leave only four Senate Democrats who don't support same-sex marriage.

The senator from Indiana noted that he voted to repeal the "Don't Ask, don't Tell" law — which barred gays from openly serving in the military — while serving in the House.

"I voted to repeal ‘don't ask, don't tell’ and was an original supporter of the bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against someone in the workplace because of their sexual orientation," Donnelly said in a statement posted on his Facebook. 

"It is also for that reason that I oppose amending either Indiana’s or our nation’s constitution to enshrine in those documents an ‘us’ and a ‘them,’ instead of a ‘we.’"

Donnelly also cited the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments last week on challenges to California's Proposition 8 law that bans same-sex marriage. The high court also held a hearing on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as between only a man and a woman in federal law.

"With the recent Supreme Court arguments and accompanying public discussion of same-sex marriage, I have been thinking about my past positions and votes," Donnelly added. "In doing so, I have concluded that the right thing to do is to support marriage equality for all."

Heitkamp's announcement was much more brief. In a short statement, she said she concluded that the federal government should allow same-sex couples to marry.

"In speaking with North Dakotans from every corner of our great state, and much personal reflection, I have concluded the federal government should no longer discriminate against people who want to make lifelong, loving commitments to each other or interfere in personal, private, and intimate relationships," Heitkamp said in her statement. 

"I view the ability of anyone to marry as a logical extension of this belief. The makeup of families is changing, but the importance of family is enduring."

A day earlier, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) announced his support for same-sex marriage. Besides almost a dozen Democrats who recently came out in support of same-sex marriage, two Republican senators — Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Rob Portman (Ohio) — recently switched positions and now support same-sex marriage.

The remaining Senate Democrats who don't support same-sex marriage are Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Mary Landrieu (La.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.).