Republican Senator Mark Kirk Endorses Marriage Equality With Brief, Beautiful Statement

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Kirk returning to the Senate in January.Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Republicans are making a lot of weak, desperate, and convoluted arguments against gay marriage these days. Republican senator Mark Kirk of Illinois just did the exact opposite in a succinct yet profound statement announcing his support for gay marriage. Kirk joins Ohio's Rob Portman as the only Republican senators to support marriage equality.

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's reference to "know[ing] better than most" about our collective mortality is a nod to the stroke he suffered last January. Kirk returned to the Senate three months ago, after less than a year of rehab,  having undergone not only a physical but also a spiritual conversion. "I would say that I definitely became much more religious," Kirk has said. He claims to have seen three angels after his stroke, although he acknowledged that they may have been a dream or "a side effect of medication."

Kirk announced his support for gay marriage on the same day as Tom Carper, a Democratic senator from Delaware. After a rash of gay-marriage reversals in recent weeks, there are now only seven holdouts among the Senate Democrats — all of whom, except for Florida's Bill Nelson, represent solid red states.

Obviously, there are many more among the Republicans, but that number will dwindle, too. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, for example, can't be far behind — she's already acknowledged "evolving" on the issue, which is basically code for "my conversion is complete and my announcement is imminent." A handful of Republicans representing blue and purple states will probably make the switch soon, too. Hearts and minds are changing, but more important than that, so are the polls.