Mark Warner's Evolution on Same-Sex Marriage
Of the 40 Senators who signed onto an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to strike down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, one name stands out among those up for reelection in 2014: Sen. Mark Warner.
The Virginia Democrat released a follow-up statement in which he explained his reasoning by using the phrase "[m]arriage equality", a word-choice generally associated with those who support same-sex marriage altogether.
Warner has not personally supported same-sex marriage up to this point.
"I am proud to lend my name to the amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to reverse this discriminatory law," said Warner in a statement. "Marriage equality now receives growing bipartisan support, and DOMA repeal is supported by a significant number of leading U.S. businesses, who correctly believe that DOMA represents an impediment to economic competitiveness."
When asked whether Warner now personally supports same-sex marriage, spokesperson Kevin Hall replied in an e-mail, "It's fair to say his thinking on that is evolving. I don't have anything to add to the statement you just received."
The phrase "evolving" regarding a politician's views on same-sex marriage became popular in 2010, when President Obama used that word to describe his own viewpoint on the issue months before publicly endorsing same-sex marrage.
Given that Obama carried Virginia after announcing his support for same-sex marriage last year, and that Warner's Democratic seatmate Sen. Tim Kaine supports legal recognition for same-sex couples regardless of its title (his word choice on the issue became an issue itself last year during his campaign), it likely wouldn't hurt Warner much politically if he seeks reelection in 2014 to mirror their stances.
Warner's job approval rating is constantly above 50 percent in polling, and he would start off his next campaign as the clear favorite against any Republican, including outgoing Gov. Bob McDonnell. Warner briefly weighed a run for the 2008 presidential race before opting for the Senate instead. He's often mentioned as a potential 2016 contender, and support for same-sex marriage is likely to play well in Democratic primaries.
Last year, Obama and Kaine both beat opponents in Virginia who favored constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. Kaine was also a signatory to the amicus brief.