Senator Jon Tester said as he got to know the people in his Montana home, he could find fewer reasons to support a ban on gay marriage.
The state there imposed a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, and as a Democratic Senator Tester had been quietly supportive. But now, in the wake of the Supreme Court challenge of California’s gay marriage ban, Tester said he needed to come out in support of gay marriage.
“I think it’s just the people you run into, the people you meet, the goodness in people and the example they set,” Tester said this week after announcing his support of same-sex marriage. “And it just kind of takes away a lot of the stereotypes that were in my head and I got to a point where, you know, I asked myself as a policymaker, as a U.S. senator, is it right that I should be denying somebody the right of happiness? And it wasn’t and that’s why we made a decision.”
Tester was one of a number of Senators to come out in support of marriage equality, including Republican Rob Portman of Ohio.
Though a Democrat, Tester’s switch came as a bit of a surprise given the political leanings of his home state of Montana. But Tester said he didn’t like the idea of the government dictating who could get married and who could not.
“I really think that people’s right to happiness shouldn’t be dictated by some policymaker in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “I’ve come to know a lot of people that –- sexual orientation is such where they’re in love with people from the same sex, and I just don’t think it’s our role in the government to say no you can’t be married. They love one another just as much as my wife and I love one another or more. And I think it’s important that we give them that ability to be happy.”
Jon Tester had announced his support for gay marriage earlier in the week, writing on his Facebook page:
“Montanans believe in the right to make a good life for their families. How they define a family should be their business and their business alone. I’m proud to support marriage equality because no one should be able to tell a Montanan or any American who they can love and who they can marry. – JT”
Tester then added the red equality symbol that is spreading on Facebook to symbolize support of gay marriage.
Jon Tester’s flip seems to be part of a growing trend. Political analysts believe that opposition to gay marriage will continue to wane, and GOP strategist Karl Rove even said tat the Republican Party could field a candidate in 2016 who supports gay marriage.