NC Senator Hagan Backs Same-Sex Marriage Rights
North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan said Wednesday she backs marriage rights for same-sex couples, joining a growing number of Democratic Party politicians ahead of her re-election race next year.
Hagan announced her position as the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a law that denies federal benefits to married same-sex couples.
"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," Hagan said on her official Facebook account. "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."
Hagan last year opposed a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, saying it could make it more difficult for companies to recruit talent. President Barack Obama announced his support for the unions the day after 61 percent of North Carolina voters backed the gay-marriage amendment last May.
The amendment reflected North Carolina’s urban-rural divide on social issues. The question passed in 92 of North Carolina’s 100 counties, while the counties surrounding Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Durham and Charlotte among those where the question was defeated.
Hagan became the 47th U.S. senator to throw her support behind gay marriage. Forty-three other Democrats, two independents who caucus with Democrats and one Republican, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, had previously announced their support.
Nine Senate Democrats oppose gay marriage, according to the Human Rights Campaign, one of the country’s largest gay rights organizations and which tracks politicians’ views on gay marriage. They are Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Bill Nelson of Florida, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Tom Carper of Delaware, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.
No other Republicans in the Senate besides Portman publicly supports gay marriage.