Ala. Senator Jeff Sessions Clarifies: I'm Not for Gay Marriage

By Neal Broverman

Originally published on Advocate.com March 26 2013 3:34 PM ET

A recent report from Tennessee's Chattanooga Times Free Press appeared to indicate Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican, now supports same-sex marriage. That’s not the case, though, according to a Sessions spokesman.

The aide contacted The Advocate on Tuesday to affirm that the senator’s position on the legal definition of marriage has not changed — in other words, marriage should be legally defined as a union between a man and a woman, according to the 66-year-old senator from Selma.

“I think people are free to marry any way they want to,” Sessions said last week outside the Senate chamber, according to Sunday’s Free Press story. “But churches are free to set standards for marriage."

It’s possible the senator was referring to same-sex commitment ceremonies held at churches or other places of worship.

The Log Cabin Republicans initially heralded Sessions’s impromptu statement. But now, Gregory T. Angelo, the organization’s executive director, says, "Regardless of his position, Senator Sessions' original quote shows a sensitivity with which he now considers the issue in light of Senator Portman's gay son. It indicates the impact Senator Portman's movement on the issue of marriage has had on his colleagues — specifically his conservative cohorts in the Republican caucus of the United States Senate. While Senator Sessions is not yet on the right side of history, the respect that he shows his Republican colleagues who support the freedom to marry shows the strides we've made as a party in such a short time."

Ohio senator Rob Portman remains the only Republican in the chamber to support marriage equality.