Florida U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson's remarkable announcement this week that his beliefs have evolved to embrace the cause of gay marriage is a welcome one. Now Florida's junior senator, Marco Rubio, should join Nelson and a growing number of Democratic and Republican senators who recognize that equal protection under the U.S. Constitution includes all Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation.
As recently as last week, Nelson repeated his long-held stance that while he supported civil unions for gays, his religious convictions prevented him from embracing the cause of gay marriage. But on Thursday, the veteran politician, 70, issued a thoughtful statement saying he would sign a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional California's ban on gay marriage: "If we are endowed by our creator with rights, then why shouldn't those rights be attainable by gays and lesbians? Simply put, if the Lord made homosexuals as well as heterosexuals, why should I discriminate against their civil marriage? I shouldn't, and I won't."
Political speculation is that Nelson succumbed to growing pressure from inside the Democratic Party, or perhaps he merely read the political tea leaves on an issue gaining growing acceptance among Americans. But how Nelson arrived at his change of heart is not as important as the fact that he did. Nelson is now on the right side of history. Rubio should join him there.