GOP senators: We will not support gay marriage
The Senate's GOP caucus leaders sent out a less-than-resounding resolution opposing gay marriage this afternoon. The caucus -- 11 of the 12 members attended this morning -- voted to oppose the Religious Freedom & Civil Marriage Protection Act, which allows same-sex couples to receive marriage licenses.
But the level of GOP cohesiveness on the issue is unclear. Official caucus positions must reflect the views of at least eight members, according to a press release announcing the GOP view. "We met that threshold," said Senate Minority Leader Nancy Jacobs.
One member who didn't agree was Sen. Allan Kittleman (pictured on the right.) The Howard County Republican relinquished his leadership post last month in part due to his moderate views on gay marriage.
"I voted that we shouldn't take a position on the bill," Kittleman said. "I don't think it was a good move. ... I think there are a lot of Republicans who would want to extend equal rights to same-sex couples."
Kittleman has said he will introduce a civil unions bill which would provide equal legal rights to same sex couples, but withhold marriage certificates. Advocates on both sides of the issue dislike the idea. Gay rights supporters want full marriage; detractors say that civil unions are merely a way station to full marriage.
And Kittleman has not yet introduced the civil unions bill, causing some to speculate that he's not going to do it. A Monday deadline is looming to get it in before it would face the additional hurdle of clearing the Senate Rules Committee.
He also hasn't said how he'd vote on full gay marriage.
The gay marriage bill has 18 co-sponsors in the Senate, but needs the blessing of 24 for passage. Twenty-nine votes are needed to cut off Senate debate, though several senators including Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller have said they'd split their vote: Casting a ballot against gay-marriage but supporting an end to a filibuster.