People have been rallying in front of the Supreme Court to support marriage equality as the Justices prepared to listen to 2.5 hours of arguments on same-sex marriage Tuesday. Among those supporting a decision in favor of same-sex marriage was Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois.
Kirk was one of a handful of Republican lawmakers who showed up outside of the Supreme Court, but Kirk was the only one supporting a ruling in favor of marriage equality.
"When you walk up to this group, it's a pretty raucous left-wing group," Kirk told reporters. "I was taking a bit of a risk there."
Supporters like Kirk outnumbered their opponents. People in the crowd shouted, "Thank you, Senator!” as he left the podium.
"After my stroke, I learned a lot about love and death," he told The Huffington Post after he gave a speech. "I realized that life gets down to who loves you, who you love, and the government has nothing to do with that decision.”
"For me, the real legacy of our party is freedom on top of freedom," he said. "To remember the Abraham Lincoln legacy that the only way to solve a freedom problem is to provide more freedom to people. That your basic right of association as an American is a right to associate with whomever you want, and the government should not be able to block that.”
Kirk is a target for Democrats and will be facing a difficult re-election fight in 2016. He said the impending election year is why he decided to attend rallies at the Supreme Court today. He said he wanted "to stand as a national Republican who signed also the amicus brief on this marriage equality case. That we would be a much stronger country."
He added: ”As a history nerd, you could make the case that we could've lost World War II but for one British gay mathematician named Alan Turing. And we are a much more powerful country because of our gay community.”
The Supreme Court is focusing on two issues: whether or not the ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional and, if so, whether the states that ban same-sex marriage have the right not to recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where it’s legal.
A decision is expected in late June.