Illinois GOP Sen. Kirk Endorses Gay Marriage

Kirk is the 50th sitting senator, and the second sitting GOP senator, to announce his support

By Edward McClelland
|  Tuesday, Apr 2, 2013  |  Updated 11:20 PM EDT
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Sen. Mark Kirk nearly died from his January 2012 stroke and said at one point he recalled angels speaking to him. Mary Ann Ahern reports.

Sen. Mark Kirk nearly died from his January 2012 stroke and said at one point he recalled angels speaking to him. Mary Ann Ahern reports.

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Kirk Addresses Media

Republican Senate candidate Mark Kirk's full remarks at Northbrook Renaissance Hotel on Tuesday, June 29, 2010.
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Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk became the second Republican senator to endorse same-sex marriage.

It appears his brush with death — when he suffered a debilitating stroke in January 2012 — served as the final push. On Tuesday, Kirk issued this statement from his Senate office:

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 follows Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) as a same-sex marriage supporter in his caucus. Portman changed his position after his son came out as gay.
 
The junior senator from Illinois has long had a liberal voting record on gay rights. As a congressman, he voted against a constitutional amendment to make marriage between one man and one woman and was one of the few Republicans endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign, a gay lobbying group. As a senator, he voted to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
 
Earlier this year Kirk stepped in to help save the job of Illinois Republican party leader Pat Brady after he said he accepted gay marriage. Illinois party leaders wanted him gone. 
 
Kirk’s announcement is especially significant because he is the 50th senator to announce his support for same-sex marriage.
 
With the vote of Vice President Joe Biden, that position now has a majority in the chamber.

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