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Sens. Claire McCaskill, Mark Warner announce support for gay marriage

"Supporting marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is simply the right thing to do for our country, a country founded on the principals of liberty and equality," Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill wrote Sunday on her blog. On Monday, Virginia Senator Mark Warner called marriage equality "the fair and right thing to do."

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Sen. Claire McCaskell (D) of Missouri, seen here in October 2012 outside a St. Louis school, says she now believes that gay couples should be allowed to marry, a change from her stance during her 2012 re-election campaign in which she defended the right of Missouri voters to outlaw same-sex weddings.

Jeff Roberson / AP / File

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Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill says she now believes that gay couples should be allowed to marry, a change from her previously nuanced stance during last year's re-election campaign in which she defended the right of Missouri voters to outlaw same-sex weddings.

The Democratic senator's support for gay marriage is a matter of both personal belief and public policy, her spokesman said Monday. McCaskill declared her position on her blog Sunday evening.

"I have come to the conclusion that our government should not limit the right to marry based on who you love," McCaskill said on her Tumblr site. "While churches should never be required to conduct marriages outside of their religious beliefs, neither should the government tell people who they have a right to marry."

On Monday, another senator joined the growing chorus of support for marriage equality.

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat who describes himself as a centrist, announced on Facebook that he now supports gay marriage.

Like McCaskill, Warner has seen his position evolve over time. He had previously supported civil unions that confer some of the rights and privileges of marriage. In the waning days of his term as governor, Warner became the first governor to ban discrimination in hiring and workplace protection for gay state employees.

In 2010, he backed ending the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy toward gays in the military.

On Facebook, Warner says he supports marriage equality "because it is the fair and right thing to do."

These statements are coming out just as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on the topic: Tuesday they will hear arguments on Prop. 8, California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, then arguments Wednesday concerning a part of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act that bars same-sex couples who are legally married from receiving federal tax, pension and other benefits available to other married people.

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