As the debate over a possible repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act rages on in the Supreme Court, U.S. Rep. Bob Casey announced today he's changed his stance on same sex marriage and "can no longer in good conscience" advocate against affording equal rights to all citizens.
In a statement first released to The Philadelphia Gay News, Casey said he first started reconsidering his position in 2011, when the DOMA debate was introduced to the Senate.
"After much deliberation and after reviewing the legal, public policy, and civil rights questions presented, I support marriage equality for same-sex couples and believe that DOMA should be repealed," he said.
Casey said he was further moved by letters he received by LGBT Pennsylvanians and their families.
"These stories had a substantial impact on my position on this issue," he said.
"If two people of the same sex fall in love and want to marry, why would our government stand in their way? At a time when many Americans lament a lack of commitment in our society between married men and women, why would we want less commitment and fewer strong marriages? If two people of the same sex want to raise children, why would our government prevent them from doing so, especially when so many children have only one parent, or none at all?"
He ended the statement with a call for bipartisan action.
"I believe elected public officials have an abiding obligation to refrain from demonizing and dividing people for partisan or political gain," he said.
"Rather, Democrats and Republicans should come together and find areas of agreement to do what’s best for the country, including lesbian and gay Americans."
The full statement can be read here.
Casey increasingly came under fire in recent weeks for his position against same sex marriage and was the subject of an open letter from state Rep. Brian Sims blasting him for failing to stand up for LGBT rights.
Sims said he's pleased Casey changed his position.
"Senator Casey is a thoughtful and contemplative man who today not only listened to the millions of voices of Pennsylvanians calling for him to support same-sex marriage, but strongly voiced that support as well," Sims said in a statement.
"I am pleased to see Senator Casey responding to the voices of his constituents and am eager to work with him in reaching out to the hundreds of thousands of LGBT Pennsylvanians who can now count on his support for LGBT equality."