WASHINGTON, May 29 (UPI) -- Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent became the sixth congressional Republican to publicly support gay marriage, a week after a federal judge ruled his state's ban unconstitutional.
Last week, when Gov. Tom Corbett declined to contest the ruling, making Pennsylvania the 19th state to allow same-sex unions, Dent congratulated gay couples and said he was reconsidering his stance, but needed more time. And by Thursday, he'd apparently made up his mind.
"Life is too short to have the force of government stand in the way of two adults whose pursuit of happiness includes marriage," he said.
Quoting from U.S. Middle District Judge John Jones's ruling, Dent said that "in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage."
"In conversations with my family, I have come to realize that they already see the world through that lens," he continued. "As a Republican, I value equality, personal freedom and a more limited role for government in our lives. I believe this philosophy should apply to the issue of marriage as well."
Dent, a five-term moderate, has shown a willingness to buck Republican leadership, opposing last year's government shutdown, as well as supporting other gay rights issues such as workplace nondiscrimination and immigration benefits. He is running unopposed in November's election.
He joins Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, along with Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Richard Hanna of New York as the only Republicans in Congress to come out in favor of same-sex marriage.