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Florida Sen. Bill Nelson endorses gay marriage

Senate Finance Committee member Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. listens to testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 12, 2011, during the committee's hearing into high gasoline prices and high profits. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has endorsed gay marriage, the latest in a string of lawmakers to change his position on the issue. 

"If we are endowed by our Creator with rights, then why shouldn't those be attainable by Gays and Lesbians?" Nelson said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times. "Simply put, if The Lord made homosexuals as well as heterosexuals, why should I discriminate against their civil marriage? I shouldn't, and I won't."

He added that he would sign on to an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to find the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

In the immediate aftermath of Obama’s announcement last May that he was switching to support gay marriage, Nelson told the Miami Herald: “I believe marriage should be left to the states, and Florida voted on same-sex marriage in 2008.” Florida voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage with more than 61 percent that year.

About a dozen senators have announced their support for gay marriage in the past two weeks, as the Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases related to same-sex unions. Nelson's announcement leaves six Democrats in the Senate who have not endorsed gay marriage. Two Republican senators, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Rob Portman of Ohio, have come out in favor of gay unions. Nelson is the 51st senator to do so.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.



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