U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., on Saturday (April 6) clarified his view on same-sex issues, saying he is opposed to same-sex marriage.
“I am opposed to gay marriage,” he said in an e-mail. “In the interview with KFSM done on April 5, I also discussed whether gay couples should receive benefits if they work for the federal government. On the benefits issue, I said to ‘put me down in the undecided category.’ By that I meant that, depending on what the U.S. Supreme Court decides, I will evaluate whether federal benefits should be available to gay couples. Of course, I will consider the impact any extension of benefits would have on the federal budget.”
In an interview at 5NEWS in Fayetteville on Friday (April 5), the senator said he has spoken about the issue with gay friends, who told him their sexual preference is not a choice.
(His quotes on the same-sex issue and abortion addressed in this blog post were transcribed from his taped interview at 5NEWS with staff members Larry Henry and Allison Woods.)
On benefits for same-sex couples, Pryor said, “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, (the) federal impact of this, and I’m sure as the gay marriage decision goes through the U.S. Supreme Court and all the ramifications for that over the next few months, we’ll spend some time on this.
“I would put me down in the undecided category,” he said. “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 opened 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.”
In a wide-ranging interview, Pryor also said he leans toward the pro-life side of the abortion debate but understands there are times when a woman should make the decision.
“I’ve always leaned toward the pro-life side of that, but I don’t fit neatly into any of the categories,” he said. “The National Right to Life people think I’m not pro-life enough, and the pro-choice people certainly think I’m not pro-choice enough. I sort of live in that tension of somewhere being in the middle of that issue, probably where most Arkansans are. I think for most Arkansans it’s not a pure black or white issue. There’s not just a bright line rule, no exceptions.
“I certainly respect that there are circumstances where the woman should be able to make that decision,” he added. “Of course, I want that to be as infrequent as possible. But I do think that there are times when a woman should make that decision.”
Pryor, whose term ends in January 2015, has declared he is seeking re-election to a third six-year term in the 2014 election. He said he raised $1.9 million in the last quarter toward the election.