Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey came out in favor of marriage equality Monday. Casey is a conservative Democrat and one of the last in his party to endorse gay marriage.
“After much deliberation and after reviewing the legal, public policy and civil-rights questions presented, I support marriage equality for same-sex couples and believe that DOMA should be repealed,” Casey told The Philadelphia Gay News.
In the past Casey has supported civil unions for same-sex couples and opposed constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage. He supported the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and said he began to reconsider his opposition to gay marriage in 2011 following the first introduction of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, in the Senate.
Casey said that he was moved by the stories of LGBT Pennsylvanians he encountered. He argued that at a time when marriage is weakening across the country, it does not make sense to prohibit people who want to get married from making the commitment. He said in his statement:
“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? If two people of the same sex want to raise children, why would our government prevent them from doing so, especially when so many children have only one parent or none at all?”
Casey joins the list of Democratic senators who felt pressured to endorse gay marriage as the issue rose to national prominence during last week’s Supreme Court hearings. Throughout the week, Casey received over 10,000 phone calls in support of gay marriage following a campaign by progressive groups such as MoveOn.org and Equality Pennsylvania. Public opinion has shifted to the point where it is now safer for conservative members of the Democratic party such as Casey to endorse gay marriage without suffering political fallout.