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Kirk Comes Out For Same-Sex Marriage

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"Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage," Illinois' junior senator wrote on his website Tuesday.

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Sen. Mark Kirk today became the second Republican senator to endorse same-sex marriage.

It appears his brush with death -- when he suffered a debilitating stroke in January 2012 -- served as the final push. On Tuesday Kirk issued this statement from his Senate office:

When I climbed the Capitol steps in January, I promised myself that I would return to the Senate with an open mind and greater respect for others.
 
Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage. Our time on this Earth is limited, I know that better than most.  Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back-- government has no place in the middle.
 
Kirk follows Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, as a same-sex marriage supporter in his caucus. Portman changed his position after his son came out as gay.
 
The junior senator from Illinois has long had a liberal mindset on gay rights. As a congressman, he voted against a constitutional amendment to make marriage between one man and one woman, and was one of the few Republicans endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign, a gay lobbying group. As a senator, he voted to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
 
Earlier this year Kirk stepped in to help save the job of Illinois Republican party leader, Pat Brady, after he said he accepted gay marriage. Illinois party leaders wanted him gone. 
 
Kirk’s announcement is especially significant because he is the 50th senator to announce his support for same-sex marriage.
 
With the vote of Vice President Joe Biden, that position now has a majority in the chamber.
 
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