Ohio GOP Senator supports marriage equality

Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman writes about how he has come to believe in marriage equality.

His op-ed appears in the Columbus Dispatch:

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.

That isn’t how I’ve always felt. As a congressman, and more recently as a senator, I opposed marriage for same-sex couples. Then something happened that led me to think through my position in a much deeper way.

Two years ago, my son Will, then a college freshman, told my wife, Jane, and me that he is gay. He said he’d known for some time, and that his sexual orientation wasn’t something he chose; it was simply a part of who he is. Jane and I were proud of him for his honesty and courage. We were surprised to learn he is gay but knew he was still the same person he’d always been. The only difference was that now we had a more complete picture of the son we love.

At the time, my position on marriage for same-sex couples was rooted in my faith tradition that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman. Knowing that my son is gay prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective: that of a dad who wants all three of his kids to lead happy, meaningful lives with the people they love, a blessing Jane and I have shared for 26 years.

I wrestled with how to reconcile my Christian faith with my desire for Will to have the same opportunities to pursue happiness and fulfillment as his brother and sister. Ultimately, it came down to the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.

Well-intentioned people can disagree on the question of marriage for gay couples, and maintaining religious freedom is as important as pursuing civil marriage rights. For example, I believe that no law should force religious institutions to perform weddings or recognize marriages they don’t approve of.

Category : The Lead

Comment Policy
Our comment policy requires that you use your real name and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted

5 Comments
  1. Pmgentry

    If only Senator Portman discovered his own family member was poor, then we might really get somewhere!

    Phil Gentry

  2. Benedict Varnum

    A Facebook friend posted an article (with slightly provocative language) that seems to be on the same point Phil’s making:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/03/15/rob_portman_and_the_politics_of_narcissism.html

    It seems to be a fairly partisan piece (it doesn’t mention democrats who champion legislation they’re connected to), but the point is well-taken, and the note that senators, practically by definition, do not have poor children themselves, was thought-provoking to me.

  3. revsusan

    Yes, it would be nice if everybody figured out that “liberty and justice for all’ really means ALL whether or not they have a gay kid. AND … when they do figure it out (like Rep. Rob Portman did) … we say thank you. Not only because our mothers brought us up right… but because [a] it’s the right thing to do and [b] because we know they’re getting slammed from the other side. So do the right thing. Make your mother proud. Call Rob Portman’s office and leave a message and thank him. I just did. Seriously. Go. Do it. Now: 202-224-3353

    Susan Russell

  4. Michael Hartney

    I went to Senator Portman’s website and left him a message in support. IMO he needs to hear from those who support him – no matter where we live in the country. Perhaps he can be a better example of a public figure supporting LGBTQ issues than the former Vice President (with whom, he said, he sought counsel before announcing his support). Clergy and clergy families who publicly support their LGBTQ family members have something in common with politicians and politician’s families in this regard. Our public witness to stand up for our children and families and encourage others to do the same makes a difference. Too often our LGBTQ family members fear that they will be ostracized by those who love them most. It must end. And those of us with ‘public’ voices must repeatedly stand up and say so.

    Michael Hartney

    Watkins Glen, New York

  5. tgflux

    Geez, PhilG and BenedictV: you can’t even wait *24 hours* before you’re all “what have you done for me lately”?

    I say to you, what I said (ahem, a few threads down) to Pope Francis: if you think it’s tough to be poor, try being poor AND gay. For a day anyway, I think it’s fine that Portman (the FIRST Republican Senator to come out in favor of marriage equality—there’s only 2 in the House) to tackle the “gay” half of the “poor & gay” dilemma. Major props!

    JC Fisher

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *