Originally published: March 27, 11:02 a.m.
Updated: March 27, 2013, 1:31 p.m.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan has announced her support for marriage equality for LGBT couples.
Her announcement came during an interview with Raleigh’s News & Observer on Wednesday, as the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in two cases on marriage this week. On Tuesday, the court heard a case challenging California’s Proposition 8, a 2008 anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment. The court hears a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act today.
“I know there are strong feelings on both sides, and I have a great deal of respect for their opinions,” Hagan told the Raleigh newspapaer in an interview. “But after much thought and prayer on my part this is where I am today.
“I know all our families do not look alike,” Hagan continued. “We all want the same thing for our families. We want happiness, we want health, prosperity, a bright future for our children and grandchildren. After conversations I’ve had with family members, with people I go to church with and with North Carolinians from all walks of life, I’ve come to my own personal conclusion that we should not tell people who they can love, or who they can marry. It’s time to move forward with this issue.”
Stuart Campbell, executive director of the statewide LGBT education and advocacy group Equality North Carolina, responded with praise for Hagan’s comments.
“We applaud Sen. Hagan’s declaration of support for marriage equality and her willingness to join an ever-growing number of political leaders nationwide who understand why the freedom for everyone to marry matters,” Campbell said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.
Campbell added, “Sen. Hagan—like many Americans—has taken the time to reflect on why marriage equality matters and come to the conclusion that extending the freedom to marry to loving, same-gender couples only strengthens our families, and our communities. We encourage and expect other North Carolina leaders to stand with Sen. Hagan on the right side of history and publicly support full equality for their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender constituents — equality in marriage, housing, accommodations, and the workplace. “
Update (March 27, 2013, 11:06 a.m.): Hagan released this short statement on her Facebook page at approximately 11:05 a.m. Wednesday morning:
“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. 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.
“This wasn’t a decision I came to overnight, like my Republican colleague Rob Portman expressed recently on his own viewpoint. Last year, I opposed Amendment One because I was concerned about the negative consequences it could have on North Carolina families and our economy. The fabric of North Carolina and what makes our state so special is our families and our common desire for a brighter future for our children. No matter what your family looks like, we all want the same thing for our families – happiness, health, prosperity, a bright future for our children and grandchildren.
“Religious institutions should have religious freedom on this issue. No church or minister should ever have to conduct a marriage that is inconsistent with their religious beliefs. But I think as a civil institution, this issue’s time has come and we need to move forward. Jobs and the economy are the number one issue for me and for North Carolinians right now, and I’m not going to take my eye off that ball at a time when so many are still struggling.”