Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who was one of the leading candidates to be Romney’s vice presidential nominee last year, has reversed his position on same-sex marriage after his son came out of the closet. That personal connection convinced him of the need to treat people equally:
Sen. Rob Portman has renounced his opposition to gay marriage, telling reporters from Ohio newspapers yesterday that he changed his position after his son Will told him and his wife, Jane, that he is gay…
In an interview in his Senate office, Portman acknowledged that his support for same-sex marriage is a “change in my position that I have had in Congress and also here in the Senate the last couple of years.” But he said that change “came about through a process” after Will, now a junior at Yale University, told his parents in February 2011 that he is gay.
“It allowed me to think about this issue from a new perspective and that’s as a dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister have,” Portman said.
Portman said he and Jane were both surprised to learn that their son is gay, but he said they were “very supportive of him,” adding that they wanted Will to “know we were 100 percent supportive and we love him. He’s an amazing young man.”“If anything, I’m even more proud of the way he has handled the whole situation.”
So many thoughts on this. While it’s great that he’s changed his position, it would be even better if he thought that equality was the right thing even if it only applies to other people’s children. On the other hand, this is exactly how opinions change. It’s easy to oppose equality in the abstract, but much tougher when you actually know and care about someone who is directly affected by it. That’s exactly why public opinion has shifted so rapidly on this issue. And it’s why coming out of the closet is still such an important act for gay people, if they’re in a position where they can safely do so. It does change things. It does have an impact.