Senator Rob Portman became the most prominent Republican lawmaker to back gay rights when he reversed his opposition to same-sex marriage on Friday, two years after his son told him he was gay.
In a newspaper opinion piece on Friday, shortly before the Supreme Court is to hear arguments in two key cases on the issue, the Ohio senator said he now supports gay marriage.
“I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married,” Portman wrote in an op-ed piece in Ohio’s Columbus Dispatch.
“That isn’t how I’ve always felt. As a Congressman, and more recently as a Senator, I opposed marriage for same-sex couples. Then, something happened that led me to think through my position in a much deeper way.”
Portman’s 21-year-old son, Will, told the senator and his wife in February 2011 that he was gay and had been “since he could remember.”
It was the latest show of public support for gay rights. President Barack Obama announced last year that he approved of gay marriage, and in his inaugural speech in January, he equated gay rights with civil rights.
The Supreme Court hears oral arguments later this month in two cases related to gay marriage. One challenges the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. In a related case, the court will also hear arguments that question a California law, known as Proposition 8, banning gay marriage…
In his op-ed piece, Portman wrote of how he has “wrestled” with reconciling his Christian faith with the desire for his son to have the same opportunities as his siblings.
Which is why they’re called civil rights, folks.
It’s hard not to be critical of Portman waiting till he was personally affected by his son coming out – before examining all that he did afterwards. As someone in an elected position, someone charged with presenting informed leadership on issues affecting his constituents and the nation. OTOH, we can criticize damned near every one of the elected members of our government of paying overmuch heed to the needs of the lobbyists and check-writing punks that surround public office in this nation.
I’d say he’s different in that he did choose to get off his rusty-dusty and change a piece of his politics to match reality – instead of ideology. Not a common process in Congress even among the few folks I think worth supporting.