Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) has changed his views on marriage equality because he has a gay son.
“I’m announcing today a change of heart on an issue that a lot of people feel strongly about,” Portman said. “It has to do with gay couples’ opportunity to marry. And during my career in the House and also last couple years here in the Senate, you know, I’ve taken a position against gay marriage, rooted in part in my faith and my faith tradition. And had a very personal experience, which is my son came to Jane, my wife, and I, told us that he was gay and that it was not a choice and that, you know he, that’s just part of who he is, and he’d been that way ever since he could remember.”
Portman said his son’s revelation led him to drop his opposition to same-sex marriage. “And that launched an interesting process for me, which was kind of rethinking my position,” he said. “You know, talking to my pastor and other religious leaders and going through a process of, at the end, changing my position on the issue. I now believe people ought to have the right to get married.”
I have heard a number of my friends and fellow bloggers react to this news with a bit of cynicism, including speculation that since Will Portman came out to his parents two years ago, it’s taken the senator a pretty long time to come to terms with it and announce it publicly, especially since he was on the short list of VP candidates for Mitt Romney last year.
But in the family dynamic, these things do take time and parents — and the child — realize that understanding it isn’t something that happens overnight. I know in my own situation that while I never doubted that my parents loved me no matter what, it took a little getting used to when I introduced them to Allen and we started coming to family gatherings the same way my siblings did with their spouses. That’s just the way people are.
I respect Mr. Portman for his forthrightness in saying that it took a personal revelation to get him to change his mind. It’s easy to be against something in the abstract but difficult to turn into a bumper sticker when it touches you: abortion is murder until your 16 year old daughter breaks the news, and God hates gays until your son sits you down and tells you that his roommate isn’t really just a guy who helps with the rent. That’s when reality trumps the talking points.
My only wish is that it didn’t take a personal family experience to learn that.