WASHINGTON — After remaining mum on the subject when asked about it last week, Sen. Mark Begich's office issued a statement Monday night from the senator supporting marriage equality.
"I believe that same sex couples should be able to marry and should have the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as any other married couple," the Alaskan senator said in what appears to be his first direct statement on the subject.
"Government should keep out of individuals' personal lives — if someone wants to marry someone they love, they should be able to. Alaskans are fed up with government intrusion into our private lives, our daily business, and in the way we manage our resources and economy," he continued.
Although Begich's office did not respond to an earlier request for comment about his views on marriage equality, the Human Rights Campaign informed BuzzFeed Monday afternoon that Begich's office had told the LGBT rights organization that Begich supported the following statement:
"Gay and lesbian couples should not be denied the ability to pledge their love and commitment through the civil institution of marriage. I believe that two committed adults of the same sex should be able to receive a government-issued marriage license, while religious institutions retain their right to determine which marriages they will perform."
When asked about HRC's claim Monday evening, Begich's office provided BuzzFeed with the direct statement of support for marriage equality.
Although he has opposed a proposed federal marriage amendment and supported same-sex partner benefits, The New York Times in December 2008 reported that Begich "did not respond directly when asked more than once whether he was for or against same-sex marriage."
More recently, Begich was one of 15 Democratic senators who did not join a Supreme Court brief supporting Edith Windsor's case asking the court to declare the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Begich is up for reelection in 2014.
Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.
Contact Chris Geidner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.