By Chelsea Schneider Kirk
U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky announced his support of marriage equality Thursday, calling unfair current federal laws that bar same-sex couples from having the same financial and legal benefits as married couples.
In a statement issued Thursday, Visclosky, D-Merrillville, said he supports marriage equality for all couples and believes "every single American should be able to marry the person they love."
"I believe that we can no longer allow the states to discriminate against same sex-marriages. Rather, I believe that the federal government should ensure that all consenting adults, no matter who they are or who they love, have the exact same marriage rights," Visclosky said.
Visclosky's announcement also marks an ideology shift, as the longtime lawmaker voted in support of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. Today, Visclosky "regrets that he cast this vote," according to his spokesman, Phil LaRue. The act defines marriage solely as a legal union between a man and a woman.
Visclosky joins fellow Democrat and northern Indiana lawmaker U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, who last week publicly stated support for marriage equality.
Donnelly, D-Ind., said recent U.S. Supreme Court arguments and public discussion on same-sex marriage prompted him to think about his past positions and votes.
"In doing so, I have concluded that the right thing to do is to support marriage equality for all," Donnelly said.