Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski on Wednesday became the 3rd Republican Senator to endorse gay marriage.

Murkowski said in a statement that the institution is consistent with her values as a “lifelong Republican” who believes in “promoting freedom and limiting the reach of government.”

“I support the right of all Americans to marry the person they love and choose because I believe doing so promotes both values: It keeps politicians out of the most private and personal aspects of people's lives – while also encouraging more families to form and more adults to make a lifetime commitment to one another,” Murkowski said.

Ohio Senator Rob Portman was the first GOP senator to make such an endorsement. Portman said in March that the issue had become personal for him after his son came out gay. Roughly two weeks later, Illinois Senator Mark Kirk followed suit, saying that after suffering a major stroke he realized that “our time on Earth is limited.”

Freedom to Marry, a group devoted to increasing the number of states where gay and lesbian couples can legally marry, praised Murkowski, who earlier in the year had said that her stance on the subject was “evolving.”

"Senator Murkowski joins the majority of US senators taking a stand for equal treatment under the law on one of the most important bonds in our society: marriage,” said Marc Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry. “And as the third GOP senator to announce support for marriage this year, she shows that the conservative tenets of freedom and family are perfectly in line with the freedom to marry. With a solid majority of the American public supporting same-sex couples' right to marry, along with a majority of Republican voters under 50, we'll see more and more leaders like Senator Murkowski – from all parties and all states across the nation -- moving to be in line with the electorate and on the right side of history.”

Murkowski said in her statement that she was influenced in part by a lesbian couple raising four adoptive children. “This first-class Alaskan family still lives a second-class existence,” she wrote.