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In a Shift, Sen. Bill Nelson Now Endorses Gay Marriage as an “Unalienable Right”

| April 5, 2013

A change of heart for Sen. Bill Nelson.

A change of heart for Sen. Bill Nelson.

Maybe Sen. Bill nelson was inspired by Sen. Rob Portman, the Ohio senator, who last month switched his stand from opposing gay marriage to favoring it. Portman did so after his son Will told him in 2011 that he was gay. That prompted the change of mind in Portman, belated though it was: Portman was a leading contender for the vice presidency last year, but Mitt Romney’s opposition to gay marriage was a fundamental marker that Portman could not cross. At least until last month.

“It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective, and that’s of a dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have — to have a relationship like Jane and I have had for over 26 years,” Portman told the Ohio press. “If anything, I’m even more proud of the way he has handled the whole situation,” he said of his son, a student at Yale. “He’s an amazing young man.” Portman remains, however, only one two Republican senators to endorse gay marriage, while most Democrats already have. On April 2, Markl Kirk, the Illinois Republican, joined Portman in defense of gay marriage.

Nelson hadn’t. Until today.

Here’s what Nelson wrote to the Tampa Bay Times editorial board today: “It is generally accepted in American law and U.S. society today ‘… that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.’ I believe that. The civil rights and responsibilities for one must pertain to all. Thus, to discriminate against one class and not another is wrong for me. If we are endowed by our Creator with rights, then why shouldn’t those be attainable by Gays and Lesbians?”

Nelson is the 51st senator to come out in favor of gay marriage. He said he would add his name to a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in defense of gay marriage.


Oral arguments on two gay-marriage cases before the Supreme Court last week prompted a slew of senators to endorse gay marriage. Politicians, including conservatives, may be deciding to do so as much out of hopes of staying in step with moral currents as to perhaps sway the court not to decide the issue one way or the other, but to leave it to legislatures to decide, state by state.

That had been Nelson’s position last May, when he cagily told the Miami Herald: “I have a record fighting against discrimination and standing up for people’s civil rights based on their sexual orientation. I believe marriage should be left to the states, and Florida voted on same-sex marriage in 2008.” That year, 61 percent of Floridians approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, even though Florida law already banned it.

Nelson was pressed by gay-rights groups to come out in favor of gay marriage last year, after President Obama did. Nelson resisted. He was running for reelection at the time, in a state that still enthusiastically opposes gay marriage: a civil union bill hasn’t gone far in the Florida Legislature.

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21 Responses for “In a Shift, Sen. Bill Nelson Now Endorses Gay Marriage as an “Unalienable Right””

  1. Edman says:

    Better late than never. It’s nice to see politicians who evaluate the issues and even change their minds if the facts prove them wrong. We’d all be better off with more facts and less posturing to donors.

  2. johnny taxpayer says:

    I don’t mind politicians changing their mind, I just wish they would explain why it is they changed. What happened in the past 18 months that caused Bill Nelson to switch from States issue to fundamental right federal issue? At least Portman has an excuse, seems to me Nelson’s only excuse is “I’m pretty sure I’m running for Governor and my internal polls show this will get me some positive press”…

  3. James says:

    Sorry, but marrage is between a man and a women only. I understand Mr. Portman’s position, and strongly believe that there should be a legal binding civil union but marrage is out of the question.

    • Nancy N. says:

      Marriage IS a civil union. It is nothing but a registration with the government that conveys certain legal recognition and benefits. You are confusing the state registration of such unions, commonly called “marriage” with the religious ceremony of “holy matrimony”, which is the blessing of a union by a member of the clergy.

      Your religion can feel free to define “holy matrimony” any way it would like for its members. But you can’t impose that definition on others who don’t believe as you do through the civil registration process of “marriage”.

      • Chad says:

        You are partially correct with the exception that to of those of faith marriage is the same as holy matrimony. A civil union would be instituted by government while a marriage is instituted by God.

        • Nancy N. says:

          It’s semantics! No matter if you call it marriage, civil unions, or simply “registration” – it’s still the same thing: nothing but the legal registration of a relationship with the government in return for certain recognition and benefits. I’ll tell you what…if it will make you happy…how about we start calling ALL legal registration of unions with the government “Civil Unions”, no matter what gender the participants? Privately, people can call it whatever the heck they like – holy matrimony, getting hitched, marriage, taking the plunge…but the legal term for everyone will be civil unions.

          Did you know that in most of Europe, religious ceremonies are not recognized as a way of legalizing a marriage? Couples MUST have a ceremony at the local registrar’s office to be legally married, followed by a church ceremony if they would like. There’s a distinct line drawn separating the legal registration from the church ceremony blessing the relationship. Which is as it should be. One is a legal transaction and the other is a religious ceremony.

  4. HJ says:

    Sorry for your luck….. It’s coming sooner or later, whether those of you who use religion or bigotry like it or not ! Discrimination is discrimination not matter which way you look at it.

  5. Andy Nonymous says:

    “I…strongly believe that there should be a legal binding civil union but marrage is out of the question. ”

    James, please do elaborate on your position. I’d be very interested to hear your explanation to this absurdity. However, if it is for any of the below reasons, do NOT bother.

    – If it is because two men or two women cannot naturally produce a child, then bar the elderly and barren.
    – If it is because a child needs both a mother and father, then outlaw divorce.
    – If it is because marriage is ONLY for pro-creation, then do not allow child-free couples.
    – If it is because the Bible defines marriage between one man and one woman, then let me correct this misconception with a few examples:

    – (Non-consensual) Rapist and victim. (Deut. 22:28-29)
    – (Non-consensual) Male soldier and female prisoner of war. (Deut. 21:11-14)
    – (Non-consensual) Male and female slave
    – Man and woman + female slave. (Gen. 16:1-6; Gen. 30:4-5)
    – (Non-consensual) Brother-in-law and brother’s widow. (Gen. 38:6-10)

  6. Gia says:

    This guy is just a cheese sucker & FL don’t need him. He’s never done anything for the state anyway.

  7. Think About it says:

    Just out to get the voters…nothing more…

  8. Rainbow says:

    I see all the Rainbow people are out and sparkling today. I say we make California a totally gay state, That way all gay people can move there and live happy ever after. We can call it Gayfornia ! SNAP

    • Nancy N. says:

      I say we turn California into a straight, religious zealots only state. That way all the intolerant people can move there in heaven’s name. We can call it Bigotonia. Amen.

  9. Dopey says:

    I wonder why this Senator didn’t come out with this during the election. Can one be bought? When someone flip flops, that is usually an indication they are not very stable in their faith.

  10. Outsider says:

    It’s all political. The Dems want to divert everyone’s attention away from the fact that the economy sucks, is getting worse, and they need to keep the low information voters’ attention on matters of less importance.

  11. Sherry Epley says:

    I personally expect my representatives to listen and respect and “represent” the will of their constituents, not the paid lobbiest, not their biggest campaign contributors, not their cronies, not according to some pledge they have signed, not their families, not even their ministers. Their responsibility is to carry forth, speak, decide and vote according to the majority of the will of the people they represent. That is exactly what Senator Nelson is doing.

    I would love to see other Congresspersons do the same on this and many other issues.

    • johnny taxpayer says:

      So youre saying he was doing the exact opposite the past 20 years in congress, but now he’s seen the light so he should be worthy of our trust?

  12. Stevie says:

    Religious freedom and gay marriage are not compatible.

    The left has done an admirable job in secular society making the case that gay marriage merely allows a class of people to be happy and have what everyone else has.

    As long as there are still Christians who actually follow Christ and uphold his word, a vast amount of people around the world — never mind Islam — will never ever see gay marriage as anything other than a legal encroachment of God’s intent.

    So those Christians must be silenced. The left exerted a great deal of energy to convince everyone that the gay lifestyle is an alternative form of normal. It then has exerted a great deal of energy convincing people that because the gay lifestyle is just another variation of normal, gay marriage must be normalized.

    Any Christian who refuses to recognize that man wants to upend God’s order will have to be driven from the national conversation. They will be labeled bigots and ultimately criminals.

    Eric Erickson

    http://www.redstate.com/2013/03/26/gay-marriage-and-religious-freedom-are-not-compatible/

    You can already see censorship of some of the speech in the posts above. This is going to increase until free speech is no longer.

    The free press is shooting itself in the foot on this issue, they will be out of business too.

    Poetic justice.

  13. Chad says:

    It is my view that marriage was first instituted between a man and woman by people subscribing to a belief in God’s laws as we now read in books widely accepted as scriptures. Government later came to also recognized marriage and have given certain privileges such as inheritance and medical coverage for those married. I believe those rights should be afforded to couples living together even if I don’t subscribe to their lifestyle. However, I do not believe the definition needs to be called what God initiated because in my belief the gay lifestyle is contrary to God’s commandments. I also believe that God still loves all of His children even when we do not live according to His laws. This is another dialogue. To finish my thought, I believe if those in a gay relationship want the same benefits from government, then government needs to make it possible by what some have termed a “civil union.” Marriage is instituted by God, but a civil union could be instituted by government. All peoples interests would be served and the core issues addressed.

  14. Sherry Epley says:

    Here, yet again, we need the separation of church and state.

    The members of the Supreme court are responsible for interpreting the covenants of our country’s laws as fundamentally defined by our constitution. Religion should not enter into their decision making process.

    The word “marriage” or “married” is used in thousands of our Federal and State laws to define the “legal” rights of the individuals and couples who are legally classified in this way. The “marriage” license is issued by an authorized agent of our government. That license is the same regardless of religious affiliation, or none, regardless of ability to create children, or where the ceremony is taking place. . .etc. etc.

    Those who wish to enter into the religious union of “Holy Matrimony” (or any other name), then have a separate, and most often additional, process for that purpose. That spiritual celebration of the union is most often presided over by a religious person who is NOT authorized by our government to legalize the union, in the absense of the official “Marriage License”.

    Regardess of the semantics used, these are two completely different processes, and they should be treated as such. Consider the possibility that many of our legislative representatives have FINALLY thought this whole thing through. . . and they finally understand the difference. . . So should we all!

  15. IMO says:

    I/M/O with all this discussion about consenting human beings having the right to do with their bodies as they so choose as is their constitutional right why aren’t people like Senator Nelson leading the charge to make prostitution legal.

    Come on Senator Nelson stop discriminating against women!

    Let’s get rid of the archaic laws that a woman who charges a man money for sex can be sent to prison.

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