Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), one of four remaining Senate Democrats who have not come out for marriage equality, told a local Arkansas news station on Friday that he is “undecided” on whether same-sex couples should be allowed to legally marry and is unsure if being gay is a choice:
“I would put me down in the undecided category,” the moderate Democrat told KFSM 5 News. “I did talk with some friends of mine in the gay and lesbian community over the last week or so. We talked about this issue. We also talked about a question I received in the office not too long ago where they asked whether being gay was a choice or whether you were born that way. I told them, I said, ‘Honestly I’ve never really thought a lot about that.” Maybe a lot of people think about that. I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about that. But one of the things I hear from them is they feel very strongly that it’s not a choice for them, and I respect that. I’m not going to dispute that. I appreciate that, and I appreciate their honesty. For a lot of these people they just really open their heart to me and talked about some of the struggles they’ve had over the years with their sexual orientation. I respect that and appreciate their patience, and I appreciate their honesty.”
Pryor also wouldn’t commit to extending federal benefits to gays and lesbians, but expressed concern that doing so would cost the government too much money. “This is one that is an evolving issue in Washington. I haven’t really analyzed this in terms of benefits and what that does for the federal budget, ” he said.
Fifty three senators now support marriage equality. Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Tim Johnson (D-SD) are the only other Democrats who have not publicly endorsed it.