“I have come to the conclusion that our government should not limit the right to marry based on who you love,” McCaskill wrote on Tumblr. “While churches should never be required to conduct marriages outside of their religious beliefs, neither should the government tell people who they have a right to marry.”
McCaskill joins a number of other prominent Democrats who have endorsed same-sex marriage; just last Monday, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she supported gay marriage, fueling speculation she would run for president in 2016.
McCaskill announced her decision two days before the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the first of two cases on gay marriage.
As a Democrat from a conservative state, McCaskill has tried to walk a fine line on the issue in the past. In 2004, she did oppose Missouri’s state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage but said it was unnecessary as state law already made it illegal. Last May after President Barack Obama’s announcement supporting same-sex marriage, the senator said she favored civil unions but that the issue of same-sex marriage should be left up to individual states.
At that time, she was running for reelection in a race that many figured would go to the Republicans — until her opponent, former Rep. Todd Akin made his infamous legitimate rape comment.
In her Tumblr post, McCaskill admitted her views had “changed over time,” explaining, “as many of my gay and lesbian friends, colleagues and staff embrace long term committed relationships, I find myself unable to look them in the eye without honestly confronting this uncomfortable inequality. Supporting marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is simply the right thing to do for our country, a country founded on the principals of liberty and equality.”
McCaskill continued, saying “good people” would disagree with her, but her children “have a hard time understanding why this is even controversial. I think history will agree with my children,” she concluded.
As more and more people support same-sex marriage, I suspect McCaskill’s children will be proven right.
Diana Reese is a freelance journalist in Overland Park, Kan. Follow her on Twitter at @dianareese.