U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) publicly announced his support for marriage rights for same-sex couples in a press release Monday.

The second-term Democrat had previously backed civil unions and LGBT rights legislation, including the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He also co-sponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, but he had not voiced support for full marriage rights.

“After much deliberation and after reviewing the legal, public policy and civil rights questions presented, I support marriage equality for same-sex couples and believe that DOMA should be repealed,” Casey said in the release. “If two people of the same sex fall in love and want to marry, why would our government stand in their way?”

Casey cited letters that his office received from “LGBT Pennsylvanians and their families” as influential in his decision to change his position. He included a portion of a letter he received from a woman from southeastern Pennsylvania who cited the financial burden of being unable to marry her partner and asked that her and her family “be treated equally and with respect” by the government.

“As a senator and as a citizen, I can no longer in good conscience take a position that denies her and her family the full measure of equality and respect,” Casey wrote in response.

Casey’s announcement comes on the heels of a set of widely publicized Supreme Court oral arguments last week on two cases surrounding same-sex marriage. He had been one of only nine Democrats out of 53 in the U.S. Senate who had not voiced their support for same-sex marriage.

Lambda Alliance chair Dawn Androphy saw Casey’s announcement as exciting and reflective of shifting public opinion.

“As more public figures publicly state their support for marriage, the issue will gradually become less and less controversial,” Androphy said in an email. “History is clearly going to be on the side of marriage equality and I believe our majority will keep growing over the next several years.”

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