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Senator Bill Nelson Expresses Support For Gay Marriage

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WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 02: Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), gives a thumbs up as he walks to vote on the debt limit bill on August 2, 2011 in Washington, DC. The Senate voted 74-26 to approve the bill to raise the debt ceiling, allowing the U.S. to avoid default on its debts. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 02: Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), gives a thumbs up as he walks to vote on the debt limit bill on August 2, 2011 in Washington, DC. The Senate voted 74-26 to approve the bill to raise the debt ceiling, allowing the U.S. to avoid default on its debts. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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Legislative Session Coverage

TAMPA (CBSMiami) – As recently as last week, Senator Bill Nelson’s office stood by his previous statements that marriage should be between a man and a woman. But last night, Senator Nelson changed his mind.

“If we are endowed by our Creator with rights, then why shouldn’t those be attainable by Gays and Lesbians?” Nelson asked in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times. “Simply put, if The Lord made homosexuals as well as heterosexuals, why should I discriminate against their civil marriage? I shouldn’t, and I won’t.”

Senator Nelson also said he would add his name to a Senate petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to “declare the law that prohibits gay marriage unconstitutional.”

Nelson’s switch now puts the total number of Senators supporting gay marriage at 51. It also leaves just six Democratic Senators who don’t support gay marriage.

The six Democratic Senators not supporting gay marriage are: Joe Donnelly (Ind); Heidi Heitkamp (ND); Tim Johnson (SD); Mary Landrieu (La.); Joe Manchin (WV); and Mark Pryor (Ark). All six are from red states and several face re-election next year, which could be factoring in to the decision making process.

Republican Senators Mark Kirk and Rob Portman have also expressed their support for gay marriage in the past.

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