Former DOMA Supporter Sen. Rob Portman Wants His Gay Son To Be Able To Get Married

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marriage equalityIn a controversial and influential announcement, Republican Senator Rob Portman has announced that he has some “evolving views” on same-sex marriage. The original Defense Of Marriage Act supporter has changed his mind on the important social issue after finding out that his college-aged son is gay. It looks like this human connection to homosexuality has really made an impact on the conservative politician.

In general, we at Mommyish can be a little leery of the, “My kid is gay so I should probably stop discriminating against gay people,” conversion. After all, a lot of other people’s kids were gay before Rob Portman’s, and those people were directly hurt by the Senator’s support of DOMA. Should all be forgiven now that he finally feels personally invested in the matter and found a little compassion?

At the same time, Portman made some pretty strong statements about his new belief in marriage equality. And either he’s one amazing political bullshitter or he had an honest “Come to Jesus” moment about sexual orientation and discrimination. Portman’s son explained to him that his sexual orientation was not a choice. He was born gay and had always felt that way. The realization seems to have deeply effected Portman, who is now the only sitting Republican Senator to have shown support for gay marriage. He said,

“It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective, and that’s of a Dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have — to have a relationship like Jane and I have had for over 26 years.”

That idea that a dad just wants his son to be able to have the stable and secure relationship that his parents do really hits home for me. It’s the kind of sentiment I heard my own grandmother express when discussing same-sex marriage. After a strict religious upbringing, she still couldn’t completely shake her hesitant feelings about homosexuality in general. They were too deeply ingrained. But when she considered how she would feel if one of her children or grandchildren were gay, she still wanted them to be able to have the same family life that she had. She wanted them to be able to get married and have children, if that was what they wanted.

Marriage equality really does feel like a generational divide, even more than it is a partisan one, which Senator Portman noted when speaking about the issue. But the most powerful piece of his statement was the acknowledgement that same-sex marriage could “strengthen the institution of marriage.” It’s an idea that I believe in strongly and that I think demonstrates just how far Senator Portman’s personal views have changed.

Don’t look for the Ohio Republican to start spearheading federal legislation on the issue. Don’t expect him to start signing legal briefs. He says that financial issues are his main focus and specialty and he’ll stick to that legislative arena. Portman seems to believe that states should be able to choose what marriages they recognize and that the federal government should simply respect the state’s decision. It’s worth noting that the Senator’s home state of Ohio has not legalized same-sex marriage.

Still, the announcement is one more step towards marriage equality, a goal which I fully believe is within our sights.

(Photo: Lasse Kristensen/Shutterstock)