Republican senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has endorsed same-sex marriage, according to an op-ed posted to her Senate website Wednesday.
In the article, Murkowski recounts how an Alaskan same-sex couple, a military family with four adopted children, factored into her decision to come out in support of the cause. Witnessing the sacrifices of this couple and learning of the numerous ways the lack of legal recognition of their union could tear the family apart, Murkowski concluded, "This first-class Alaskan family still lives a second-class existence."
"With the notion of marriage -- an exclusive, emotional, binding 'til death do you part' tie -- becoming more and more an exception to the rule given a rise in cohabitation and high rates of divorce, why should the federal government be telling adults who love one another that they cannot get married, simply because they happen to be gay?" asked the senator, in the op-ed titled "Murkowski Shares Thoughts on Marriage Equality With Alaskans." "I believe when there are so many forces pulling our society apart, we need more commitment to marriage, not less."
Murkowski joins a short list of Republican politicians who have come out in support marriage equality, which includes U.S. senators Mark Kirk of Illinois and Rob Portman of Ohio, and Florida congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
In an interview with the Washington Blade, Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin called Murkowski's op-ed a "courageous and principled announcement."
"We hope other fair-minded conservatives like Senator Murkowski stand up and join her," Griffin said. "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."
Murkowski concluded her statement with a clear endorsement of marriage equality, coupled with a call for federal government to get "out of the way" of its progress.
"Countless Alaskans and Americans want to give themselves to one another and create a home together," she wrote. "I support marriage equality and support the government getting out of the way to let that happen."