The Next Five Republican Senators to Endorse Gay Marriage

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Less than a month ago, not a single Republican senator openly supported gay marriage. Now two of them do. But with public attitudes changing quickly, Rob Portman and Mark Kirk won't be alone for long. Here are the five Republican senators most likely to jump on the marriage-equality bandwagon next.

1. Lisa Murkowski

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, speaks during a news conference about the Keystone XL oil pipeline on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP/Corbis

A moderate and, since winning re-election in a write-in campaign, increasingly mavericky Republican, Murkowski acknowledged a few days ago that "there is a change afoot in this country in terms of how marriage is viewed" and that she's "evolving" on the issue. When politicians say they're "evolving" on gay marriage, it means they've changed their mind but aren't quite ready to announce it yet. We're sure Murkowski has "endorse gay marriage" circled on her calendar somewhere in the next couple of months.

2. Susan Collins

Following a meeting with Sen.-elect Angus King of Maine, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, tells reporters that she wants answers from disgraced CIA Director David Petraeus about the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya, on the American consulate, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/? Corbis. All Rights Reserved.

Collins, another Republican famous for her mavericky voting record, represents a state that recently legalized gay marriage through a ballot initiative. She has a long history of supporting gay equality, and when asked recently where she stands on gay rights, she dodged the question entirely. The only thing potentially holding Collins back at this point is her upcoming re-election in 2014. A marriage-equality stance could hurt her in a GOP primary race, but her numbers are very strong and, when it comes down to it, we don't expect that she'll be able to evade the question until then anyway.

3. Saxby Chambliss

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16:  U.S. Select Committee on Intelligence ranking member Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) gets on the Senate subway as he leaves after a hearing on the Benghazi attack November 16, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director David Petraeus testified before the committee about the September 11 attacks on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The senator's recent bizarre response to a question on his gay-marriage views — "I’m not gay. So I’m not going to marry one. — was, in a way, a roundabout way of saying that Chambliss thinks he should be able to marry a gay person if he wanted to. It was also, more broadly, a dodge. Chambliss is retiring at the end of his term, so he may just decide to leave the Senate on the right side of history.

4. Richard Burr

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), listens to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar testify during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on May 18, 2010 in Washington, DC. The committee is hearing testimony about the accident involving the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded and is now leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Since his Democratic colleague Kay Hagan came out for gay marriage last week, Burr has been asked a lot about marriage, and he hasn't been all that adamant about keeping it hetero. Asked a few days ago where he stands on the issue, Burr called it a matter for the states to decide. Pressed on his personal opinion, Burr responded, "My personal opinion is that it's between a man and a woman, but my role is not to influence what people believe in the state I live in or what the state does that I live in." Burr was one of only eight Republicans to back the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell in 2010.

5. John McCain

27 Mar 2013, Nogales, Arizona, USA --- U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) watches his colleagues speak during a news conference following their tour of the Arizona-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona March 27, 2013. REUTERS/Samantha Sais (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY IMMIGRATION) --- Image by ? SAMANTHA SAIS/Reuters/Corbis
Photo: Samantha Sais/Retuers/Corbis

Asked by Anderson Cooper recently whether he could foresee himself supporting gay marriage, McCain seemed open to the possibility, if only implicitly. "I don't think so because of my religious beliefs, but I respect anyone else's decision and we all learn in life and grow and mature." He also added that his daughter, an outspoken supporter of gay marriage (along with Cindy McCain), "makes strong arguments and I think we ought to continue this dialogue throughout the country." Don't be surprised if McCain decides to tells gay-marriage opponents to get off his lawn.