Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski (R) is now the third Republican senator to support gay marriage, she announced in a statement posted to her website Wednesday. Her reversal comes days before a decision is expected from the Supreme Court on the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8.
In her statement, Murkowski recalls having lunch with a military family who had adopted four siblings. The parents were a lesbian couple who she described as "everything our nation should encourage."
I bring them up because the partners were two women who had first made the decision to open their home to provide foster care to the eldest child in 2007. Years later – and after a deployment abroad with the Alaska National Guard for one of them – they embraced the joy and sacrifice of four adopted children living under the same roof, with smiles, laughter, movie nights, parent-teacher conferences and runny noses.
Yet despite signing up and volunteering to give themselves fully to these four adorable children, our government does not meet this family halfway and allow them to be legally recognized as spouses. After their years of sleepless nights, after-school pickups and birthday cakes, if one of them gets sick or injured and needs critical care, the other would not be allowed to visit them in the emergency room – and the children could possibly be taken away from the healthy partner. They do not get considered for household health care benefit coverage like spouses nationwide. This first-class Alaskan family still lives a second-class existence.
In March, Murkowski said her views on the issue were "evolving," after previously expressing opposition to gay marriage. She joins her fellow Republican Sens. Rob Portman (OH) and Mark Kirk (IL) in bucking the party line.
“Senator Murkowski’s courageous and principled announcement today sends a clear message that marriage equality must come to all 50 states in this country," said HRC President Chad Griffin in a statement. "As the Supreme Court prepares to rule in two landmark marriage cases this month, a growing bipartisan coalition is standing up for the right of all couples to marry—and there is no turning back that tide."