Sen. Claire McCaskill backs same-sex marriage

Sen. Claire McCaskill. Photo by Whitney Curtis/Getty Images

With the Supreme Court set to hear two major cases on same-sex marriage this week, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., last night joined a growing chorus of politicians who say gay and lesbian couples should be legally entitled to get married.

McCaskill, who was embroiled last year in a controversial, high-profile re-election campaign against Republican challenger Todd Akin, made the announcement on her Tumblr last night. She argued that while "the question of marriage equality is a great American debate," the government shouldn't dictate who can and cannot get married.

"I have come to the conclusion that our government should not limit the right to marry based on who you love," she wrote. "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 said her views on the subject, like those of many politicians, have evolved over time, but that she is now unable to look her gay and lesbian friends, colleagues, and staff "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," says McCaskill. "Good people disagree with me. On the other hand, my children have a hard time understanding why this is even controversial. I think history will agree with my children."

McCaskill follows a series of high-profile announcements on this issue, most recently including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who was a co-sponsor of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, also announced his support for same-sex marriage recently, making him the top-ranking Republican in government to do so.

The outcomes of the two cases being considered this week - DOMA and Proposition 8, California's gay marriage ban - are expected to have profound implications for both same-sex marriage and the movement surrounding it.

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