The Washington Times - April 2, 2013, 12:21PM

Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois announced Tuesday that he supports same-sex marriage — adding his name to a growing list of Republicans who are breaking with their party on the thorny social issue.

Mr. Kirk attributed his shift in part to his own personal struggle to recover from a stroke he suffered in January 2012. He only returned to full-time work on Capitol Hill in early January 2013.

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“When I climbed the Capitol steps in January, I promised myself that I would return to the Senate with an open mind and greater respect for others,” Mr. Kirk said in a press release. “Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage. Our time on this Earth is limited, I know that better than most. Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back — government has no place in the middle.”

Mr. Kirk becomes the second Republican senator to come out publicly for gay marriage, joining Ohio Sen. Rob Portman. Democratic Sens. Tom Carper of Delaware and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania this week became the latest of a slew of Democratic lawmakers announcing they now support gay marriage.

Chad Griffin, head of the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, welcomed the news.

“Senator Kirk and Senator Carper have shown tremendous leadership in announcing their support for marriage equality,” Mr. Griffin said in a statement. “It is a sign of our progress that so many of their colleagues are showing the same political will. Democrat or Republican, there can simply be no excuse for standing on the wrong side of history when it comes to this basic question of justice.”