Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, on Wednesday announced her support for marriage equality, becoming the third Republican senator to take that position just days before the Supreme Court is expected to announce decisions on two groundbreaking cases addressing the legality of same-sex marriage.
In an op-ed posted to her Senate website, Murkowski expressed her belief that America faces "a significant moment for our nation when it comes to rethinking our society's priorities and the role of government in Americans' private lives and decisions."
"I am a life-long Republican because I believe in promoting freedom and limiting the reach of government. When government does act, I believe it should encourage family values," she said. "I support the right of all Americans to marry the person they love and choose because I believe doing so promotes both values: it keeps politicians out of the most private and personal aspects of peoples' lives - while also encouraging more families to form and more adults to make a lifetime commitment to one another."
"Why should the federal government be telling adults who love one another that they cannot get married, simply because they happen to be gay?" she wondered.
Murkowski, a consistently moderate voice in the Republican party, specified that she supports same-sex civil marriages because "I am equally committed to guaranteeing that religious freedoms remain inviolate, so that churches and other religious institutions can continue to determine and practice their own definition of marriage."
Murkowski follows Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., in going public with her views on same-sex marriage.
The Human Rights Campaign lauded her "courageous and principled announcement" in a statement.
"As the Supreme Court prepares to rule in two landmark marriage cases this month, a growing bipartisan coalition is standing up for the right of all couples to marry--and there is no turning back that tide," said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin. "We hope other fair-minded conservatives like Senator Murkowski stand up and join her. Alaska may be nicknamed 'the Last Frontier,' but we've got to make sure that LGBT Alaskans don't have to wait to find justice."