America has officially become indifferent to Democratic senators declaring support for gay marriage. Today, Bill Nelson of Florida indicated that he'd switched positions. Very few people seemed to care.
Nelson made his announcement in a statement given to the editorial board of the Tampa Bay Times. It read, in part:
It is generally accepted in American law and U.S. society today "... that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. I believe that. The civil rights and responsibilities for one must pertain to all.
Thus, to discriminate against one class and not another is wrong for me.
It's not an insignificant announcement. Nelson becomes the 51st senator to declare his support, meaning that for the first time, same-sex marriage supporters have a majority in the chamber. As the Huffington Post notes, only six Democratic senators have yet to indicate support. Each represents a state that Mitt Romney carried last November.
The map below indicates states in which one or both senators has expressed support for gay marriage. (Darker blue indicates both senators do.)
Granted, the news came out late on a busy afternoon, but it appears to have been met mostly with a shrug. At this point, capitulation on the issue seems all but inevitable, particularly for Democrats. Two days ago, the Washington Post presented a graph showing the exponential growth of support in the Senate. (Since then, two additional senators have flipped.) The natural short-term ceiling for the graph isn't necessarily 100 senators, but it seems clearly to be 57 — every Democrat and independent, and the two Republicans who've joined them. Until the graph hits that point, it's likely that these announcements will be cheered, but quietly. The days when every convert received the equivalent of a social media ticker tape parade are over.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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