Tim Johnson Latest Senate Democrat to Back Same-Sex Marriage

Photograph by Brendan Smialowski/Bloomberg

Senator Tim Johnson, a Democrat from South Dakota and chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, speaks to reporters following a hearing in Washington, D.C.

Then there were three.

Retiring Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota became the 52nd Democratic senator to endorse same-sex marriage today. That leaves only three members of the party’s caucus — Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — opposed to allowing gays and lesbians to marry people of the same sex.

“After lengthy consideration, my views have evolved sufficiently to support marriage equality legislation,” Johnson said in a statement. “This position doesn’t require any religious denomination to alter any of its tenets; it simply forbids government from discrimination regarding who can marry whom.”

Johnson is the fourth Democrat in less than a week to endorse same-sex marriage.  Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Bill Nelson of Florida did so last week. Johnson, Donnelly and Heitkamp represent states that backed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012 over President Barack Obama. Johnson is not seeking re-election next year.

As for the three holdouts, Pryor and Landrieu are up for re-election in November 2014 in states that backed Romney and Manchin, who also rerpresnets a red state, gave no indication last week that he was even considering changing his position.

“I believe that a marriage is a union between one man and one woman,” he said in a statement. “My beliefs are guided by my faith, and I support the Defense of Marriage Act.”



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