So You Want To Change Your Position On Gay Marriage: A Senator’s Guide To Making The Switch


Are you a sitting senator? Thinking of reversing your position on gay marriage? Well, you’ve come to the right place!

First of all, rest assured that you’re in good company. Since Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) got the ball rolling in mid-March, another nine senators have come out in favor of marriage equality, some of them mere hours before the Supreme Court took up the issue. On Tuesday alone, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) separately announced new positions on marriage. With Carper’s move, there are just seven Democrats in the whole Senate who haven’t followed suit.If you’re one of the “Slowpoke Seven,” you’re probably already planning how to announce your eventual switch. After all, nobody wants their obituary to lead with “Senator X was the last Democrat to oppose gay marriage.” But how do you make the jump after so many years denying you’d ever consider the idea? Fortunately for you, there’s a handy formula for crafting the perfect press release, statement, or interview quote for debuting your new LGBT-friendly outlook. Here’s all you need to know.

1. After Much Prayer…

As the old playbook says, “There is nothing more important than appearing to be religious.” Be sure to mention how much you talked to your local faith leaders.

Rob Portman: “I wrestled with how to reconcile my Christian faith with my desire for Will to have the same opportunities to pursue happiness and fulfillment as his brother and sister. Ultimately, it came down to the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.”

Kay Hagan: “After much thought and prayer, I have come to my own personal conclusion that we shouldn’t tell people who they can love or who they can marry.”

Tom Carper: “I pray every day for God to grant me the wisdom to do what is right.”

2. …I Have Evolved!

Like Pokemon, one’s position on marriage is expected to gradually evolve before finally becoming its exciting new form. For a long time President Obama was “evolving,” and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) says she’s doing the same thing right now. Feel free to throw the phrase into your statement.

Tom Carper: “As our society has changed and evolved, so too has the public’s opinion on gay marriage – and so has mine.”

Mark Warner: “Like many Virginians and Americans, my views on gay marriage have evolved, and this is the inevitable extension of my efforts to promote equality and opportunity for everyone.”

3. The Kids Get It

One of the benefits of finally ditching your old stance is that the kids these days will think you’re a real hep cat. You might even get Lady Gaga to play your next fundraiser (you can ask your junior staff who she is.) Be sure to give the young folks a “shout out” on their epic win in getting to your marriage position first.

Claire McCaskill: “[My] children have a hard time understanding why this is even controversial. I think history will agree with my children.”

Rob Portman: “With the overwhelming majority of young people in support of allowing gay couples to marry, in some respects the issue has become more generational than partisan.”

Jay Rockefeller: “Younger people in West Virginia and even my own children have grown up in a much more equal society and they rightly push us to question old assumptions – to think deeply about what it means for all Americans to be created equal.”

4. But If You Don’t Agree, That’s Cool

Just because you figured it all out, doesn’t mean your voters are all on board. Be sure to dole out kind words to your more traditional constituents who haven’t yet joined the bandwagon. They’re feeling pretty vulnerable these days and will surely appreciate the sentiment.

Bob Casey: “I understand that many Americans of good will have strong feelings on both sides of this issue.”

Claire McCaskill: “Good people disagree with me.”

Rob Portman: “Well-intentioned people can disagree on the question of marriage for gay couples, and maintaining religious freedom is as important as pursuing civil marriage rights.”

Kay Hagan: “Marriage equality is a complex issue with strong feelings on both sides, and I have a great deal of respect for varying opinions on the issue.”

5. Also, Down With Big Brother!

Does your state or party have a libertarian streak? Then they’ll love your principled opposition to “big government” trying to get between them and their spouse! After all, if they want to take our marriage licenses, how long until they take our guns and large sodas, too?

Mark Begich: “Alaskans are fed up with government intrusion into our private lives, our daily business, and in the way we manage our resources and economy.”

Jon Tester: “Montanans believe in the right to make a good life for their families. How they define a family should be their business and their business alone. I’m proud to support marriage equality because no one should be able to tell a Montanan or any American who they can love and who they can marry.”

Mark Kirk: “Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back– government has no place in the middle.”

And that’s it! Make sure your big announcement hits at least three of these five points and you’ll be just fine. Go get ’em, you forward thinking maverick, you.