|Senator Joe Donnelly|
Donnelly's change of position comes with plenty of cover. Senator Evan Bayh changed his position a few weeks back and several other current sitting Senators including two neighboring-state Republicans switched from opposition to support.
In Ohio, Rob Portman switched his position because his son came out as gay. Senator Mark Kirk, who suffered a near-fatal stroke a few years back, switched his position in Illinois with a beautifully-worded statement hinting that his brush with death changed the way he looked at life for everyone. "Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage," wrote Kirk. "Our time on this Earth is limited, I know that better than most. Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back-- government has no place in the middle."
For Donnelly, his statement read as kind of political and part personal. He talked about examining the issue and his past votes. He came down to supporting marriage equality because it was "the right thing to do." That's the bottom line. However he arrived at the final decision, Joe Donnelly is on the right side of history.
Some on the far right are calling him gutless and accusing him of taking up a position to win an election and even tap into fundraising dollars. Can you believe that? Just a year or two ago, did you ever think that you would see being for same sex marriage as the politically expedient thing to do? This is indicative of the attitudes of those on the far right. Ideologically, you must take a position and stubbornly hold on to that position. For them, extending marriage to the LGBT community opens the door to polygamy and bestiality. That's just ridiculous.
Back to Donnelly. I know I wrote just a few days ago that his position on marriage would likely make me avoid giving him campaign money right now. His poorly-timed e-mail begging for campaign cash the week the Supreme Court was hearing the Prop 8 and DOMA cases put his position on marriage equality in the spotlight. Perhaps his numbers weren't what they wanted. Maybe that raised his eyebrow?
Whatever his motives were, in Indiana, the polls say most Hoosiers oppose marriage equality, but the gap is narrowing week-by-week. Nate Silver predicts that within the next few years that most states will support marriage equality. He did this excellent piece on the rapidly emerging support for gay marriage.
That's good news for Donnelly. Even so, he won't stand for reelection until 2018. Politically, this won't damage him in five years. By that time, there is a lot that can happen with this issue. He's on board, and it will be interesting to see how his attitudes and votes change from what they previously were on LGBT issues because I guarantee you LGBT Hoosiers will be watching.
For now, it's nice to have a public servant that represents the entire state of Indiana who doesn't think the LGBT community is full of second-class citizens. If you couldn't see the difference between Richard Mourdock and Joe Donnelly, I hope you can now.