U.S. Rep. David Jolly said Monday he supports the right to same-sex marriage, becoming only the eighth Republican member of Congress to do so.
Jolly, who represents the bulk of Pinellas County, told the Washington Post on Monday that it is “fully appropriate” for a state to recognize same-sex marriages along with those occurring between one man and one woman.
“As a matter of my Christian faith, I believe in traditional marriage,” said Jolly in an emailed statement. “But as a matter of Constitutional principle I believe in a form of limited government that protects personal liberty. To me, that means that the sanctity of one’s marriage should be defined by their faith and by their church, not by their state. Accordingly, I believe it is fully appropriate for a state to recognize both traditional marriage as well as same-sex marriage, and therefore I support the recent decision by a Monroe County Circuit Judge.”
The Post had asked him about Republican-appointed Monroe County Chief Circuit Judge Luis Garcia’s ruling last week to lift the state ban on same-sex marriage in a Key West-based case, a decision that applied only to Monroe County. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi almost immediately appealed that decision.
Officials from organizations that support LGBT equality applauded Jolly’s comments, saying the right to marry is a personal freedom and thus should be supported by Republicans.
“It’s about individual freedoms and about not having the government interfering in our lives,” said Eric Skains, director of St. Pete Pride. “No matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on, there are so many people who have come out in support.”
Equality Florida Deputy Director Stratton Pollitzer said he thinks supporting same-sex marriage will likely become common among Republicans, who have historically opposed it.
“We welcome Rep Jolly’s support and look forward to more members of his party joining him on the right side of history,” Pollitzer said. “It is a sign that marriage is coming and politicians need to get right on this issue or pay a political price.”
National marriage equality advocate Freedom to Marry also weighed in.
“We congratulate Congressman Jolly for doing the right thing by his constituents and his country in supporting the freedom to marry,” said Marc Solomon, that organization’s executive director. “He joins the growing wave of Republicans across America who recognize that marriage for same-sex couples is in sync with Republican values of individual liberty and strong families. All committed couples across the Sunshine State should have the freedom to marry and share in the protections of marriage that are crucial to building a family and taking care of their loved ones.”
Jolly joins Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), and Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) in their support of same-sex marriage.
Information from the Washington Post was used in this report.