Florida U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is getting pressure from the liberal side of his party as the only Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation, and one of the few in the Senate, who opposes gay marriage.
Nelson is not the only Florida standout on the issue.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami, a longtime supporter of gay rights, is the only Florida Republican in Congress who supports repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as male-female only.
And while Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, stands with most congressional Republicans in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, former Gov. Jeb Bush, also a possible presidential candidate for 2016, appears to be trying to bridge the split over the question in the Republican Party.
In recent interviews, Bush has called for the issue to be decided by states, not the federal government.
A Bush spokeswoman couldn’t say whether that meant Bush would favor repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
But Bush has called for Republicans to discuss the issue with “a different tone … recognizing that there is more than one point of view, and we should talk about it in a way that is not judgmental.”
Nelson’s stance has become conspicuous recently as congressional Democrats have moved rapidly toward favoring what supporters call “marriage equality.”
In 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act passed overwhelmingly, 85-14, in the Senate, with Democrats, including former Florida Sen. Bob Graham, in favor, and 342-67 in the House. The act was signed by President Bill Clinton.