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Bill Nelson Reverses Position, Now Endorses Same-Sex Marriage

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson has long been opposed to same-sex marriage.

Up until as recently as last week, Nelson had said marriage should be between a man and a woman. But now, those beliefs have changed, with the Senator endorsing same-sex unions.

“If we are endowed by our Creator with rights, then why shouldn’t those be attainable by Gays and Lesbians?” Nelson wrote in a statement provided to the editorial board of 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."

Nelson went on to say he'll join with fellow Senators to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.

According to slate.com, Nelson's position change, "makes him the eleventh senator in the past month to reverse their stance on the issue, and represents the 51st in the 100-person chamber to come out in favor of allowing gays and lesbians to wed."

Nelson, first elected to Congress in 2001 is one of many Democrats who have come to endorsing same-sex marriage recently. The U.S. Supreme Court heard to two cases on gay marriage last month.

The advocacy group Equality Florida commended Nelson's decision to support same-sex marriage.

"I am thrilled that Bill Nelson listened to the voices of Floridians and to his own conscience," said Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality Florida.

"The Senator has an admirable record on so many issues that this blind spot stood out as incongruous to the principles he has espoused for many years."

A recent poll by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling Institute found 75 percent of Florida voters support at least civil unions. The survey found 80 percent of independents, 74 percent of Republicans, and 72 percent of Democrats support either gay marriage or civil unions.

The poll matches with others in recent years showing a majority of Americans now support civil unions and marriage for same-sex couples.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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