Tim Johnson Backs Gay Marriage

04/08/2013 02:03 pm ET | Updated Apr 08, 2013

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) announced Monday that he now backs gay marriage, becoming the latest in a wave of Senate Democrats lining up to express their support.

"After lengthy consideration, my views have evolved sufficiently to support marriage equality legislation," Johnson said in a statement. "This position doesn't require any religious denomination to alter any of its tenets; it simply forbids government from discrimination regarding who can marry whom."

Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), who both hail from deeply red states, announced their support for gay marriage last Friday. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) threw his support behind marriage equality on Thursday, and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) endorsed it on Tuesday.

Only three remaining Democratic senators have not publicly backed gay marriage: Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.). Landrieu and Pryor face reelection in 2014 in Southern red states. Manchin, like Donnelly and Heitkamp, is not up for reelection until 2018.

In a recent interview with a local TV station, Landrieu suggested that she does support gay marriage, but because her state has a law forbidding it, she feels compelled to uphold that perspective.

"I'm a lot like other people said. My views have evolved on this. But my state has a very strong constitutional amendment against gay marriage and I think I have to honor that," she said.

Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) are the only Republican senators who have publicly expressed their support.

Johnson is retiring in 2014, but there is a movement to draft his son to run for his seat.

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