Now that Sens. Kay Hagan (N.C.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Mark Warner (Va.), and Claire McCaskill (Mo.) have switched, just nine Senate Democrats remain in opposition, a core group that includes some of the party’s most socially conservative members: Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Bob Casey (Pa.), Bill Nelson (Fl.), Tom Carper (Del.), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.).
Showing no sign of concern about shifting national opinion in his culturally conservative state, Manchin told TIME through a spokesman: “I believe that a marriage is a union between one man and one woman.” “My beliefs are guided by my faith, and I support the Defense of Marriage Act,” he added. DOMA, passed in 1996, prohibits same-sex couples from receiving the federal benefits that married couples earn.
Pryor, Johnson, Heitkamp, and Landrieu had nothing to add to their existing opposition to same sex marriage. Pryor’s office told TIME that his position hasn’t changed, either. A spokesman for Johnson, who recently announced he will retire at the end of this year, said that Johnson believes the question is “up to the individual states.” …
A more promising potential convert could be Nelson of Florida. Although Sunshine State voters approved a statewide ban on gay marriage and civil unions four years ago, a PPP survey this month found 75 percent support for allowing at least civil unions in the state, and a September 2012 poll registered a slim majority in favor of legalized gay marriage.