US gay rights activists have applauded Senator Russ Feingold for announcing his support for marriage equality for all Americans. The Senator issued a statement through his Senate office affirming his support for full marriage equality for same-sex couples.

According to the statement, the Senator expressed his support for marriage equality publicly for the first time last weekend at a town hall meeting in Kenosha County, Wisconsin. The statement also confirmed the Senator’s opposition to both the federal anti-marriage amendment and a similar amendment that will be placed before Wisconsin voters on a statewide ballot in November.

“As I said at the Kenosha County listening session, gay and lesbian couples should be able to marry and have access to the same rights, privileges and benefits that straight couples currently enjoy,” said Senator Feingold in his statement. “Denying people this basic American right is the kind of discrimination that has no place in our laws, especially in a progressive state like Wisconsin. The time has come to end this discrimination and the politics of divisiveness that has become part of this issue.”

“Americans are quickly moving towards full support for marriage equality, and we are seeing a new generation of Democrats emerge whose leadership will help turn that support into law,” said Jo Wyrick, Interim Executive Director of the National Stonewall Democrats.

Currently, the platforms of state Democratic parties of California, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York and Washington State call for full marriage equality for same-sex couples. Numerous county and local Democratic parties have also called for marriage equality, as have Democratic organisations like the College Democrats and Young Democrats of America. For the first time, 2006 will also see Democratic gubernatorial nominees champion full marriage equality in California, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon.

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