Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski Decides To Buck Party And Back Marriage Equality

In a move that surprised some Alaskans and all Republicans, Sen. Lisa Murkowski has endorsed marriage equality. Image @Facebook

In a move that surprised some Alaskans and all Republicans, Sen. Lisa Murkowski has endorsed marriage equality. Image @Facebook

In a statement posted to her Facebook account on Wednesday, Murkowski made her reasons for backing marriage equality very clear. Telling the story of an Alaskan family she met some time ago, she talks of how the military family of six, two moms who adopted four siblings, still face a “second-class existence,” without benefits granted to those who are married, despite the family’s commitment to each other.

But Murkowski goes much further, giving the best, most logical, most sensible argument for marriage equality I’ve heard yet, from a Democrat or Republican:

“I am a life-long Republican because I believe in promoting freedom and limiting the reach of government. When government does act, I believe it should encourage family values. I support the right of all Americans to marry the person they love and choose because I believe doing so promotes both values: it keeps politicians out of the most private and personal aspects of peoples’ lives – while also encouraging more families to form and more adults to make a lifetime commitment to one another.”

Murkowski went on to say that despite having previously voted for a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, her “thinking has evolved as America has witnessed a clear cultural shift.” Sen. Murkowski gives clear, thoughtful reasons for her decision, citing, among other things, that marriage is an issue of personal liberty over which the government should have no jurisdiction.

In a state where being a liberal is being a minority, Sen. Murkowski will no doubt be in for a severe backlash from her most conservative constituents, despite the fact that the name “Murkowski” carries a lot of weight in Alaska, as Lisa is the daughter of former Alaskan governor Frank Murkowski. Already the comments on her Facebook post reflect public opinion on her announcement. While there are certainly detractors, many of the comments seem to be in support of Murkowski’s bold move. Time, or perhaps the next election, will tell us if her move was political suicide. No matter what, though, I believe strongly that time will show that Sen. Murkowski chose to be on the right side of history.