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GOP Sen. Portman of Ohio Now Supports Gay Marriage

Friday Mar 15, 2013

Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman is now supporting gay marriage and says his reversal on the issue began when he learned one of his sons is gay.

Ohio's junior senator disclosed his change of heart in interviews with several Ohio newspapers and CNN. In an op-ed published Friday in The Columbus Dispatch he said the decision came after a lot of thought.

"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," he wrote.

As a member of the House in 1996, Portman voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman and bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

Portman said his views on gay marriage began changing in 2011 when his son, Will, then a freshman at Yale University, told his parents he was gay and that it wasn't a choice but "part of who he was." Portman said he and his wife, Jane, were very surprised but also supportive.

He said it prompted him to reconsider gay marriage from a different perspective, that of a father who wants all three of his children to have happy lives with people they love.

He said he talked to his pastor and to people on both sides of the gay marriage issue, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who is opposed to gay marriage, and former Vice President Dick Cheney, who supports it. Cheney's daughter is a lesbian.

Portman told reporters Thursday that his previous views on marriage were rooted in his Methodist faith.

"Ultimately, for me, it came down to the Bible's overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God," he wrote.

The well-known Ohio conservative, a former U.S. trade representative and White House budget chief, was considered but not chosen as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's running mate. Portman told the newspapers Romney was informed about Will's sexuality last year.

Portman's reversal comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments this month in a challenge to a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Portman said he would like Congress to repeal the provision of the DOMA that bans federal recognition of gay marriage, though he still supports the part of the law that says states should not be forced to recognize such marriages.

A group working to overturn Ohio's ban on same-sex marriage praised Portman's comments.

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  • Oh Jed said:, 2013-03-15 12:55:48

    I have a lot of respect for this Republican.

  • gdhamf, 2013-03-15 14:25:52

    Sorry Jed Portman is just as much an ass as he ever was. If his son had not come out he would never change his mind, only after it affects him does he change positions! This is nothing but " now that there is a personal concern I have changed my mind."

  • Oh Jed said:, 2013-03-15 16:28:53

    Ok, I admit I have a big, soft spot for any sign of a parent being caring and supportive of their LGBT child. It makes me smile even though I act tough.

  • sjenner, 2013-03-15 16:55:55

    I agree with Oh Jed. It doesn’t matter how one comes to the truth. The bottom line is that Portman’s a better man now than he was before. It may have taken something as profound as his son coming out. But that doesn’t devalue where he is now. He’s accepted and loved his son totally, and taken on GOP orthodoxy in a way that may well harm his political future irreparably. So yeah, I too "have a lot of respect" for him.

  • Wayne M., 2013-03-15 20:20:19

    Jed, you are right on. Listen, I am no fan of U.S. Republicans or Canadian Conservatives, but respect is due when they change their thinking and learn to support and respect LGBT people and equality rights. Let us never forget that for every person such as Sen. Portman, there are likely five parents who kick out their LGBT children. However, THINKING people become supporters of our equality when they realize they have LGBT family and friends.

  • GAG'EM, 2013-03-15 22:15:30

    It takes absolutely no integrity or moral courage to support justice when it benefits oneself or one’s family. That said, integrity and moral courage have never been hallmarks of politicians, particularly Republicans. Maybe if we get a few dozen more children of Republicans to come out, their parents will start to support justice and equality for LGBT people. We can’t expect them to do the right thing; maybe they’ll do the self-serving thing.

  • Bob K, 2013-03-16 03:40:16

    I agree with GAG’EM Who gives a flying FUCK if Portman is now a better man -- his prior damage is not undone, he is still an ass, and 2 years was a long time for the obviously Gay son to wait, when his parents owed him to see who he was sooner. BUT I AM GLAD THAT HE HELPED THE CAUSE AND SHOOK UP SOME OF THE REPUBLICANS

  • Oh Jed said:, 2013-03-16 11:35:03

    In the scheme of things two years isn’t a long time. To make it through all the stages of accepting a gay son and acknowledging he won’t meet the cookie cutter expectations society has designed can easily take a decade, if at all.

  • WayGay, 2013-03-18 09:46:55

    The GOP will vilify him anyway and see him as just a conflicted parent. It’s much easier for the GOP to look towards idiots like that whore Sarah Palin for their platform. I personally hope the GOP continues its course of misogyny, racism, and intolerance. Because as the general population of the US gets more fed up with GOP bullshit, the less effective and relevant the GOP becomes. It’s only a matter of time before old racists like McConnel and the resident boobs like Rand Paul and John Boehner are shown the door.

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