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Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk backs gay marriage

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THIS is big news, but it doesn’t really surprise me:

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) announced his support for same-sex marriage Tuesday, becoming the second Republican senator to do so after his colleague Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) embraced marriage equality last month.

“When I climbed the Capitol steps in January, I promised myself that I would return to the Senate with an open mind and greater respect for others,” Kirk said in a statement posted to his blog.

“Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage,” he continued. “Our time on this earth is limited, I know that better than most. Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back — government has no place in the middle.”

A flurry of lawmakers have weighed in on gay marriage in the wake of the Supreme Court’s consideration of landmark cases on the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8. But the majority of endorsements have come from Senate Democrats, who only have seven remaining holdouts in their caucus.

Kirk is the 50th senator to back gay marriage.

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