Friday, March 15, 2013

Queer Quote: Sen. Rob Portman Supports Marriage Equality

Rob Portman was the head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under President George W. Bush and is now an U.S. Senator from Ohio. He had supported DOMA and a federal constitutional amendment prohibiting recognition of same-sex marriage nationwide. His college-aged son, Will Portman, came out to him as gay two years ago and now Senator Portman has come out in support of marriage equality, the first sitting Republican Senator to do so.

His statement of support (published in today's Columbus Dispatch) is today's Queer Quote:
"I've come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I've had for over 26 years. That I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is gay."
Reactions to his statement have been mixed. LGBT activists are happy that a Republican senator is now supporting marriage equality, but some progressives are noting that he is only doing so because he has suddenly discovered that homophobic public policy can negatively impact his family, even though the argument for marriage equality supporters has always been that families all over the country are affected by the lack of empathy towards LGBT people's civil rights. Conservatives are claiming that one can love one's gay family members while still supporting public policies and legislation that discriminate against them and diminish LGBT citizens' civil rights.

It is also not going un-noticed that Portman was a finalist in the Veepstakes last year to be Mitt Romney and that even though Romney's people claim that they knew Sen. Portman's son was gay and that it did not impact their decision to choose Congressman Paul Ryan instead, the fact is that Portman has not publicized this change-of-heart on anti-gay legislation until it was going to have limited negative impact on his political career.

Portman's op-ed also takes a position on gay Götterdämmerung, stating that he thinks that the Supreme Court should leave the questions presented in the Hollingworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor (on the legalization to marriage equality) to the states.

Here's the important section of the piece, titled "Gay couples also deserve chance to get married":
The process of citizens persuading fellow citizens is how consensus is built and enduring change is forged. That’s why I believe change should come about through the democratic process in the states. Judicial intervention from Washington would circumvent that process as it’s moving in the direction of recognizing marriage for same-sex couples. An expansive court ruling would run the risk of deepening divisions rather than resolving them.
I’ve thought a great deal about this issue, and like millions of Americans in recent years, I’ve changed my mind on the question of marriage for same-sex couples. As we strive as a nation to form a more perfect union, I believe all of our sons and daughters ought to have the same opportunity to experience the joy and stability of marriage.
It's becoming clearer and clearer that opposition to LGBT equality is a more and more isolated (and rare) position. And that's a good thing!

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