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GOP Senator With Gay Son Embraces Marriage Equality. Good News Or Too Little, Too Late?

473px-Rob_Portman,_official_portrait,_112th_CongressRepublican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio has come out in favor of marriage equality, the first sitting GOP senator to do so.

Portman, once considered for Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential slot, changed his view after his son, Will, came out in 2011.

Portman laid out his feelings in an op-ep 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.

We’re thrilled that a Republican senator has bucked the party line and share what is obviously a personal story. But we can forget that this is the guy who was a co-sponsor of the federal ban on same-sex marriage and voted to prevent same-sex couples in Washington, DC, from adopting children

What if his son wasn’t gay—or hadn’t come out to him? Why did he wait two years—two very momentous years for the LGBT movement—to announce his position. (Maybe because he was bucking for a vice presidency?)

And do we need a child of every GOP politician to be gay for them to realize there are actual human beings whose rights are being violated?

We’re having a hard time patting Portman on the back, for a number of reasons:

* He received a 15 on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard—he opposed the Employee Non-Discrimination Act and told ThinkProgess that businesses should be able to fire gay people with no legal consequences.

* He didn’t sign the marriage-equality brief for the Supreme Court that dozens of other Republicans did just a few weeks ago.

* In his op-ed, Portman maintains the states should decide the issue of same-sex marriage without “judicial intervention from Washington.”

* He insists he won’t “take a leadership role”  in bringing other Republican lawmakers to the side of equality.

Are we being too cynical? We’ll come around—when our dad comes out as a Republican.

Is Portman’s announcement portentous? Can he be a key asset in securing LGBT rights? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

By:           Dan Avery
On:           Mar 15, 2013
Tagged: , , , ,

  • 83 Comments
    • 2eo
      2eo

      A healthy dose of realism is not the same as cynicism.

      It isn’t a matter of sincerity, or believing, it’s the matter of fact that a sitting GOP senator has seemingly reversed his position on a matter usually at the centre of the GOP.

      It is right to remain skeptical, however a tentative handshake must be put forward. If we refuse to accept career politicians are anything other than slimy, slithering greaseballs who are only interested in their own progression then we ignore the realities of politics.

      You can’t turn down a hand who may turn out to be a useful political tool.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 11:06 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Taliaferro
      Taliaferro

      While I am glad that even one GOP senator has changed his position, I too wonder at the timing. Is he planning to run for re-election? Why did he not come forward earlier. Has his son become so openly gay and this was a case of warding off media coverage of a “sensational” story? I note too that he did not encourage other GOP members of Congress to become more enlightened and refuses to take a lead in the issue. My questions would be centered around his negative actions and would inquire if he plans to to aught to rectify those. However, this is a, tiny” step forward.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 11:12 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Spike
      Spike

      Charmed. So in other words, until republicans have family members that are gay, they will continue to support discriminatory legislation.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 11:15 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • LaTeesha
      LaTeesha

      The Senator has been a dick and remains a dick. I feel sorry for his son. I can’t imagine growing up gay while living under the thumb of that dickhead. My sympathies to his child. I hope therapy can allow him to overcome the pain such a jackass father can inflict upon a child.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 11:27 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jwrappaport
      jwrappaport

      I don’t like to look a gift horse in the mouth, but his timing and anti-federalist (so to speak) position irk me. I’ll take the Gavel of Damocles over a bumbling legislature any day when it comes to my civil rights, thank you.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 11:30 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • 1EqualityUSA
      1EqualityUSA

      Why not support equality based on principle? Why only because your son is gay? Good move, but you sure tried to do a ton of damage (after) having learned of your son’s orientation. GOP is irrelevant.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 11:43 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • balehead
      balehead

      he waited two years…sounds fishy…

      Mar 15, 2013 at 11:57 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • balehead
      balehead

      Typical Republican “camouflage”….And he’s probably retiring soon…

      Mar 15, 2013 at 11:59 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • zaneymcbanes
      zaneymcbanes

      It took my dad–a man who had TWO “Yes on 8″ signs in his front yard–about two years after I came out for him to reverse his position on gay marriage on gay marriage, but he did and that’s what counts. Some people just need the issue to be humanized for them. I congratulate Senator Portman for taking this step and for letting love win out over hate.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 12:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Derek Williams
      Derek Williams

      Great outcome – now we just need a few hundred more to follow suit.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 12:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      Senator McCain was against stem cell research until a friend of HIS got Parkinson’s and needed it.

      This Senator only changed his mind when the anti-gay attacks of his party would effect a family member.

      I”m VERY happy over his announcement, but it is a shame that our politicians have so little empathy that they don’t care about anything unless it effects somebody close to them.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 12:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kieran
      Kieran

      Sad that it takes a family member to come out as gay before some republicans finally see the light and are willing to do the right thing.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 12:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • EdWoody
      EdWoody

      Maybe I’m just looking for things to complain about, but this line:

      “…a dad who wants all three of his kids to lead happy, meaningful lives with the people they love…”

      is also slightly uncomfortable, as it seems to imply that one cannot have a meaningful life without being married. I’m sure he didn’t mean it to sound that way, but still…

      Mar 15, 2013 at 12:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • RomanHans
      RomanHans

      This is a sociopathic idiot, plain and simple, who has been forced to face one small part of reality. Yes, it’s nice he isn’t quite the delusional a$$hole he was before, but I’m not applauding him on his “evolution.” Do more of his kids have to come out as poor or unemployed for him to achieve anything close to humanity?

      Mar 15, 2013 at 1:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BobBrown
      BobBrown

      In an episode of “the Simpsons” Homer was a homophobe and the gay man he was against saved his life causing Homer to voice support. The gay character voiced by John Waters said “Homer, I won your respect, and all I had to do was save your life. Now, if every gay man could just do the same, you’d be set.”

      Nice to know we don’t have to save everyone’s life to get them to change their minds.

      My mom is now a big supporter and still holds on to her conservative Christian faith. When she found out I was gay she called me into a pitch black room and said “You weren’t raised that way.”

      We have all known people who had a hard time excepting they were gay. It is hard for straight people that have had the same anti-gay childhoods that we all had to get used to the fact that what they were taught was wrong.

      But the truth is my Mom, Sen. Portman and lots of others are coming around. I am 44 and things have changed so much. I don’t like what Sen. Portman has done in the past but I hope we allow everyone some support when they finally realize just how much a part of them we really are.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 1:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • coventgarden
      coventgarden

      oh come on people!!! whether for political reasons or sincerely changing his perspective it’s better than being entirely against us. and one step towards us rarely means going back. and we can be angry he’s hurt our community in the past but one enemy moving towards being an ally is better than a wholehearted enemy any day.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 1:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • brent
      brent

      @Taliaferro: And how is that different than Obama. Did the president not change his position last year in time for his re-election

      Mar 15, 2013 at 1:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Atomicrob
      Atomicrob

      Queerty wrote: “He insists he won’t “take a leadership role” in bringing other Republican lawmakers to the side of equality.”

      Unfortunately, he will not use his influence to educate politicians voting on these crucial issues regarding the myth that being gay is a lifestyle choice. So, distill this down and it’s about him. Period. Typical.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 1:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • brent
      brent

      @1EqualityUSA: Of course you hold the CLintons to that same standard. They did alot of damage in the 1990s. You haven’t forgotten that.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 1:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tiggertampa
      tiggertampa

      Lets applaud him for standing by his son. Show him some love, I understand emails are running about 3 to 1 against him on his website http://www.portman.senate.gov/

      Mar 15, 2013 at 2:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • brent
      brent

      @LaTeesha: Is Cher a dick becausse she once threw her daughter out of her house for being lesbian.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 2:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • brent
      brent

      @balehead: Obama waited four years. Sound fishy?

      Mar 15, 2013 at 2:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • pattygale
      pattygale

      Let’s not be as judgemental as THEY are. Yes, he should have been on board already, but that was then, this is now.
      Sen. Portman, perhaps, needed an “aha” moment to change his mind, and he got it, so let’s give him props for that instead of lamenting the past. Some things are like sushi, they take some time to get used to, but when you do, sometimes you become the biggest booster. And I don’t mean to make light of the subject, but rancor and pointing fingers gets a cause no where. I’m going to say this and you can beat me up about it if you want, but I watch how Adam Lambert handles all sorts of bizarre situations all over the world with grace, honesty, and humility, yet never backing down on what he believes, thus winning people over one person/country at a time. A soft word often works better than a big stick…. no pun intended.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 2:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Derek Williams
      Derek Williams

      Good news.

      What’s the point in crying over spilt milk?

      Mar 15, 2013 at 2:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chaz
      Chaz

      Politics is the art of 1) hypocrisy in the extreme, and 2) flagrant preaching of do as I say and not as I do, and 3) Selling out to the highest bidder.

      Whilst it’s good this guy has finally seen the light, his misdeeds of the past will be judged by how he vigorously works for equality issues, and exposes the others in his party (and any other party for that matter) who live double lives and standards.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 2:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • LaTeesha
      LaTeesha

      @brent: Cher’s behavior is a far cry from actively working against gay people and saying horrible things about gay people. Since you can’t see that difference, I can only hope you aren’t allowed any children, ever.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 2:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MickeyP.
      MickeyP.

      Sad that it took his son coming out to change his tune. If that had not happened,you can believe he would still be an ass about equality.He did so much to hurt us and now that his son IS us,it’s a different situation. Nope,I give him little to no credit for changing his mind. Too little,too late.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 2:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • cmhbuck
      cmhbuck

      He insists he won’t “take a leadership role” in bringing other Republican lawmakers to the side of equality.

      Hit the nail on the head. If he admits it’s unfair and discriminatory, but refuses to do anything about it, that just makes him a coward and, his refusal to act, typical of the GOP establishment.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 2:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Derek Williams
      Derek Williams

      No-one except the people in these positions knows exactly what it’s like to be in them, and that goes two ways, both for the religious people who’ve been taught all their lives to think of us gays as evil and a threat to society, and for us gays who have these shocking things believed about us.

      So instead of lamenting the horrible, torturous past, I’d like to embrace Mr Portman’s evolution. One more friend in an ocean of enemies can’t be a bad thing. At least he didn’t follow the easy path so many religionists take, and throw his son out of the family home.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 2:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • cmhbuck
      cmhbuck

      @brent:

      How is this different? For starters, President Obama has been opposing DOMA, sent a brief in support of the prop 8 plaintiffs to the USSC, has changed how benefits are assessed to employees under his control, and is for ENDO. Is Portman the same on these issues? No.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 2:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mz.sam
      mz.sam

      It took two years after the son came out to his family before this senator made it a political media event. First, PFLAG was always available for the senator’s advice and support instead of confiding dad-in-denial, Dick Cheney. Secondly, this press conference smacks of a broader political PR stunt for the slated-for-extinction GOP. The GOP anti-gay legislative history speaks louder than his reformed attitude.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 2:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • 1EqualityUSA
      1EqualityUSA

      19 Brent, No I haven’t forgotten about the damage Bill Clinton did to us. It was demoralizing, but in retrospect, it stopped the Constitutional Amendment the fi’thy Republicans wanted to enact.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 3:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • gjg64
      gjg64

      Can you say “tipping point”? Sure, I knew you could.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 3:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joetx
      Joetx

      Thank you for telling the complete story. The mainstream media has left out the still bad parts to Portman’s record.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 3:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mcflyer54
      mcflyer54

      Now it seems perfectly clear why Portman went from being the frontrunner for the slot of VP on the Romney ticket to the back of the pack. Portman says he told the Romney campaign that his son was gay – I can’t help but believe that the Senator experience a bit of the old gay discrimination at the hands of the GOP. What goes around comes around.

      While I certainly appreciate Portman’s support I cannot help but think this is politically motivated. His son (Will) told him 2 years ago that he was gay. Rob did not have his epiphany until March 2013 – after the current election cycle when he was considered for VP and supported both Romney and the hate filled anti-gay Republican party platform. Coming forth now with his revelation gives him a couple of years for damage control and for things to cool down before he has to decide if he’s going to run for reelection (2016) or become involved in Presidential politics (also 2016).

      Mar 15, 2013 at 4:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BJ McFrisky
      BJ McFrisky

      Let this be a lesson to anyone who opposed gay marriage but changes their mind. The militant arm of the gay community will still find something awful and hateful to say about you.

      If someone changing their opinion in favor of us isn’t grounds for celebration, then what is?

      Mar 15, 2013 at 4:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • 1EqualityUSA
      1EqualityUSA

      mcflyer54, Portman’s son is lucky he didn’t end up with a new hairdo!

      McFrisky, what do you care? It doesn’t affect you, right? Self-centered, lonely, trust fund babies are the worst.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 4:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tksquire13
      tksquire13

      Give Senator Portman a break. I read his op ed column in the Columbus Dispatch this morning. It took his son to make him realize that sexual orientation is not a choice. If it takes one person at a time regardless of why that enlightenment occurs, we are winning the battle against discrimination. We should embrace Senator Portman and accept him as a true ally in our battle to end the discrimination that we all experience on a daily basis.

      T. KIlgore
      Columbus, OH

      Mar 15, 2013 at 4:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • darkmoonman
      darkmoonman

      SO, the rest of us were lying about not being gay by choice, but as soon as his son says it, it’s okay? No get-out-of-jail-free card for this dick who should have been focused on basic human rights.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tksquire13
      tksquire13

      Enlightenment is a wonderful experience. Acceptance of an idea that is totally foreign to everything you believed because you have learned something that you didn’t know is a life changing event. He experienced that, and we should be happy and supportive of that gained knowledge. I hope that many more experience that same enlightenment as a result of his speaking out.

      T. KIlgore

      Mar 15, 2013 at 5:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MuscleModelBlog.com
      MuscleModelBlog.com

      I’ve heard that studies show that if someone knows a gay person, he or she becomes much more supportive of gay rights. I’m glad that he has finally come to support equality, but at the same time, the timing does make you wonder if there are political motivations behind it.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 5:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BJ McFrisky
      BJ McFrisky

      @tksquire13:
      Hear, hear.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 5:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daniel-Reader
      Daniel-Reader

      Great to hear he supports equality now. People should also be reminded that when they quote their “faith traditions” about marriage – all the religions they are quoting are based on polygamy, and all of their faith traditions forbid interfaith and interracial marriages, and none of their faith traditions considered women anything other than property that could be disposed of, raped, beheaded, at whim. Nothing holy about that.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 6:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cyn
      Cyn

      Oh good, his son is gay so now he is all for marriage equality. Too bad he doesn’t have a poor son.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 7:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • brent
      brent

      @Atomicrob: He won’t take part in educating others. What exactly do you think he doing now. By giving these interviews he is educating people

      Mar 15, 2013 at 7:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • LaTeesha
      LaTeesha

      @BJ McFrisky: I’m not militant. I just recognize a lousy parent when I see one and I call out lousy parenting. Portman campaigned very hard for Romney – knowing how destructive a Romney administration would be for his son, knowing the hateful things Romney said about gay people, knowing the harm Romney inflicted upon gay parents. Portman is not an impressive man, politician, or parent and I can only offer my deepest sympathies to his children for having endured his callousness for the entire lives.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 8:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • LaTeesha
      LaTeesha

      @tksquire13: What nonsense. He actively tried to elect a man who has done nothing but spread ill will towards gay parents and gay people. Portman is not an impressive person, politician, or parent.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 8:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Rock Star
      Rock Star

      OK my 2 cents says good for him, but as it was with with Cheney’s gay daughter, what choice did Portman have in the matter? He loves his son like Cheney loves his daughter. You see, love can change the world.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 8:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Snickers
      Snickers

      @Taliaferro: Sigh. If only every anti-gay Republican could be brought to their senses and discover some humanness by being giving the gift of a gay or lesbian child. It will either open their mind & heart—–or the child coming out of the closet publically will force the parent(s) to change their views or be exposed to everyone for who & what they are (not good publicity!!!!) Not a big difference but it did make a slight difference in the V.P. Dick Cheney family when their daughter came out of the closet AND then got married or engaged to another woman. Sadly the daughter didn’t strongly support the community NEAR as much as she could have.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 9:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dionte
      Dionte

      I’ll take your support, thanks.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 9:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Snickers
      Snickers

      @balehead: “he waited two years…sounds fishy…” Yes, why does the Senator see it beneficial now??? What is his agenda??? AND in the article he says his son had known for years that he was gay – – what were the barriers inside and in his family that kept him from being able to be honest with his father when he knew the damage his father was doing to his own community?? Why did the son not find the courage or freedom to come out to his father till he was leaving for college??? Sounds like a lot of sadness in the boy’s life before being able to gain his wings and fly.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 9:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • unreligious
      unreligious

      It’s always sad when someone who was previously opposed to gay rights changes their opinion and gets crushed by the very people who should be thanking him. The vast majority of people of what ever political persuasion were not supportive of gay people until their son, daughter, best friend etc came out to them. This is why for decades the gay rights movement has implored gay people to come out. It’s much harder to hate your friend than it is the unknown. Some people are accepting of someone the moment they come out, others need to work through it, in their own way and own time. Some are willing to grab a rainbow flag and march in a gay pride parade. Others are not and will just give quite support. We should not condemn either but be happy that they are no longer against us. So many on here condemn the republicans for not supporting gay marriage and ignore that even now one-third of democrats are opposed to it. Some of them are just as nasty in their comments about gay people even when they have gay faimily members. (NY Rubin Diaz Sr) Even if Senator Portman says he is not going to be a leader on this issue, his very presence will make his fellow republicans loth to be to negative in his presence. After all it’s pretty hard to spew vile words about gay people when you know you are talking about the son, of one of your fellow politicians. Let’s be grateful for the allies we find and allow them to seek their own comfort levels of support.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 9:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • brent
      brent

      @cmhbuck: OK you do know that it was the log cabin republicans who fought don’t ask in the courts and Obama sided against them It wasn’t until they won that Obama changed his mind.Yet liberals praise Obama to no end. WHY

      Mar 15, 2013 at 11:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • brent
      brent

      @LaTeesha: Has Portman done those things. Are there not democrats guilty of that as well. Like Obama fighting don’t ask.

      Mar 15, 2013 at 11:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • LaTeesha
      LaTeesha

      @brent: Just because there are Democrats who have done that doesn’t make Portman’s actions acceptable. You sound like my 5 year old who says, “Well, so and so misbehaved, too.” I don’t care. It doesn’t make it ok for you to misbehave.

      Portman is a lousy parent, politician, and person.

      Mar 16, 2013 at 1:30 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian
      Brian

      If we can welcome a current president who was for marriage equality in the state senate, then backed off when he came to the US Senate and decided to run for president but then (re)evolved back to support of marriage equality; if we can welcome Bill Clinton who as president signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DATL); then why shouldn’t we welcome Senator Portman who like sooooo many other straight Americans only changed their minds once they learned a family member or close friend is gay? If we can accept all those before him, then we should accept Senator Portman now, let alone that it’s smart politics to have an influential GOP senator on our side at last. We’ve welcomed far worse and much better – point is we must welcome new friends however long or late they come to our fight for equality.

      Mar 16, 2013 at 5:49 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BJ McFrisky
      BJ McFrisky

      @Brian: Watch out, Brian. People who make rational statements around here tend to be villified as the enemy.

      Mar 16, 2013 at 9:44 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • brent
      brent

      @LaTeesha: So then you would say the same of Obama. He is a lousy parent, politican and person. You do remember Obama Fought the Log cabin republicans in court when they tried to overthrow Don’t Ask…

      Mar 16, 2013 at 1:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tjr101
      tjr101

      @brent: You’re not seriously comparing the President with the likes of Rob Portman are you? Portman only supports same-sex marriage because of his son, that’s all. Not because he has any sort of compassion for human rights.

      Obama campaigned on the repeal of DADT and got it repealed legislatively, he signed it while Portman has voted for every anti-gay legislation.

      Mar 16, 2013 at 2:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian
      Brian

      Your partisanship is blinding you to the larger more important point: LGBT leaders have long recognized that our best weapon against anti-gay Americans is to let them know we are “one of their own”, their aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters. “Coming out” has done more to help persuade then any other arrow in our quiver. Well, Sen. Portman’s son did “come out” bringing home to Sen. Portman “Will is one of us, his son”. The Senator is a convert. He has followed the path of millions of Americans to our side – a path we know works and encourage. Sen. Portman walks down that path and now people want to fault him for doing precisely what we want: conform to a strategy we know for decades now has brought us the most success. Don’t let partisan politics get in the way of marriage equality. We need formerly anti-gay GOPers as much as we welcome home prodigal son Democrats (like Obama and Clinton). Remember, it was a GOP majority and GOP chief justice who wrote the decision striking down Prop 8 in CA Supreme Court. GOP Justice Kennedy was the author & swing vote in the Lawrence v. Texas decision and Kennedy may well be again the arbiter in the upcoming two cases before the US Supreme Court. We can’t afford to reject anyone. We need everyone. And to be clear, while he played politics over his LGBT support on his way up, President Obama has been extraordinary, unprecedented in his commitment to LGBT. He go down as a true hero and leader who pushed us over the finish line in our equality struggle. I have nothing but praise and appreciation for him. I also warmly welcome Sen. Portman to our fight. We need him too.

      Mar 16, 2013 at 2:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • brent
      brent

      @tjr101: You need a history lesson . It was the log cabin republicans who filed a suit against DADT in 2004. When it went to trial in 2010 did the Obama Administration support repeal. No, they argued in court against repeal. In fact in his first year in office Obama continued to expel gays from the service. It was the log cabin republicans who did the hard work, and when they won Obama comes in and takes all the credit. The sad thing is that liberal gays had no problem with Obama taking credit for something he didn’t do.

      Mar 16, 2013 at 3:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • brent
      brent

      @tjr101: How do you know that Portman has no compassion for human rights.

      Mar 16, 2013 at 3:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian
      Brian

      Why are you guys even fighting with each other? The eye-on-the-ball here is not partisanship it’s marriage equality and we help anyone who helps us. Log Cabin was amazing with its DADT lawsuit which when the US District Court Judge (I believe in Riverside, CA) ruled DADT unconstitutional sure caused the Pentagon and President to pay more immediate attention to DADT. Obama’s directives not to enforce DADT after that and his subsequent support for it’s legislative abolishment are just as important to the overall fight. Everyone gets credit here! Stop fighting each other and convert more Portman’s and get our traditional allies to do more as well (like finally getting the Justice Dept to file an amicus brief in the Supreme Ct cases). The pressure on all of ‘them’ needs to be constant and unrelenting not the fighting amongst ourselves!

      Mar 16, 2013 at 3:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • brent
      brent

      @Brian: I don’t disagree with you. You make a very good point. As best as i can understand it, liberals feel that they are entitled to all gay votes. So they have to put someone like Portman in his place to make sure gays stay liberal. Another point i would make is that not all gays have to agree on non- gay issues. Abortion, gun control, global warming, keystone pipeline. I get the idea from liberals that if you are gay you have to agree with the liberal take on those issues. Brian, do you think i have it wrong.

      Mar 16, 2013 at 3:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tjr101
      tjr101

      @brent: I know by his voting record!

      Mar 16, 2013 at 4:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian
      Brian

      Thanks for your note Brent. Can’t really speak for anyone but myself, obviously, but I’d answer you yes and no. The really smart operatives running LGBT operations in DC and other places totally get the importance, indeed necessity, of having non-traditional allies, e.g. Republicans. Log Cabin leadership, in my dealings, also “get” the importance of dealing with liberal dem organizations. I’ve seen that up close and personal. Neither side came to it on the natural, with ease, quickly and many on national boards privately adopt “hold my nose and work with ‘them” whichever party. I think bc for the most part leadership understands that moving marriage equality FIRST is an LGBT requirement, partisanship second, even groups directly set up under partisan banners like Stonewall Dems or LCR. My experience has shown me that it is usually the rank n file membership of these organizations, some donors, etc. are the ones that have the most difficult time cooperating with their political opposites, a luxury when one doesn’t bear responsibility for actually getting things done. This is by no means limited to the LGBT community but the problem with so many interest groups and even the mainstream parties. We stand in a circle and fire at each other losing focus of what actually needs to be accomplished….and, trust me, I have a partisan history as strong as the strongest, but I’ve really come to tire of eating our own and not getting things done. I don’t give a crap who gets credit anymore, I just want to get it done and welcomes anyone who wants to help. Leadership I have worked with knows they won’t change my politics anymore then I will change theirs and we are friends, yes, friends and colleagues in our mutual mission. Sorry to ramble on, but it’s a troublesome problem, because to sum it up, it’s more often the rank and file, average guy or gal, who has that litmus test on a belief system no longer the leadership (generally stated). And there shouldn’t be and all be entitled to our own beliefs without having our integrity challenged. That’s why when it comes to issues, I’m an American first, LGBT activist second and partisan political person third. I’m more interested in success then politics. I know LCR often wrestles with balancing these priorities, is LCR a gay org for Repub or a Repub org for gays. I think LCR should be the former and set its agenda accordingly. I likewise believe the same of the many more Dem orgs similarly established to LCR. Don’t know if that helped but I try to operate in a way I want things to be rather then are and leave the political bullshit behind when it becomes a roadblock to impt alliances.

      Mar 16, 2013 at 4:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      A careful reading of the entire article gives many reasons to be skeptical of Senator Portman’s change of heart. I don’t doubt one doesn’t change a lifelong held view overnight, but one presumes any elected official charged with making laws for others should have a bit more of an open mind. Let’s accept for just a moment that he really did have a change of heart because of his son. Will he now be more open minded on issues and problems that don’t affect him personally? If so then it is much more likely he is sincere. But I doubt it. I wish I could embrace “a new ally” as others recommend, but I’m probably to old and cynical. Sorry.

      Mar 16, 2013 at 11:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian
      Brian

      Too old and cynical. I hope not. But ask of yourself those questions you now ask of Sen. Portman. And ask yourself if you hold yourself up to that same high standard level of presumption. After all, politician or not, isn’t an “open mind” as you call it something we all should aspire to achieve. Lastly, I have generally find that one who questions whether another has an open mind usually is code for “I don’t believe or respect what that person thinks and only if….” Well in this case the “only if….” turned out to be the groundshaking news to a conservative senator that he had a gay son. Why can’t you simply be happy about that and if you are to judge him, judge yourself by those same standards and questions to see how YOU would fare.

      Mar 17, 2013 at 12:13 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • 1EqualityUSA
      1EqualityUSA

      Brian, from 56 down, your posts have been right on. Thanks. (Is this really you?) Are you in love? What the Hell. Good posts!

      Mar 17, 2013 at 12:32 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian
      Brian

      Hi 1EqualityUSA. Hmmm, lol, seems perhaps you know who I am (in which case you’re probably right:) For the purposes of this writing I’ve intentionally avoided any self-identification, not that it is a big deal in anyway, I just wouldn’t want the messenger to in anyway impact the message but simply be read as one person’s opinions. I, on the other hand, have no idea who you are. Hmmm?:) Oh, and one day, still have hopes to be in love again. So far it’s alluded me. But when it does arrive, I do intend and believe I will marry in my adopted state, my home, California! Whoohoo! (I only wish my adopted state would have beat my home state (NY) to the altar. lol) So you wanna give me a hint as to your identity? Most of all though, thanks for your nice comments!!:) Brian

      Mar 17, 2013 at 5:33 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Brian – I never said persons can’t have an opinion, nor do they have to agree with me and yes we should all aspire to an open mind. But the point is that SENATORS make laws for other people so there is a little different standard here. Do you really not see this? If he is going to excuse himself for his bigotry because of his religious faith, did he campaign as a Christian (or whatever religion he espouses?) I doubt it or he wouldn’t get elected. He is accountable for his past actions and again, if you read the article carefully, he has much to answer for. I’m not sure I heard an apology either. I left the door open for him to prove his sincerity, and I hardly lambasted the guy, so the self righteousness of your response is a bit overkill and annoying.

      Mar 17, 2013 at 10:18 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Victor_in_PA
      Victor_in_PA

      It’s nice that he’s changed his mind but, the problem I have is that too many repugnicans vote for themselves. They don’t give a crap about anyone else until it effects them personally. Then they have an “epiphany” and change their views. Yeah, it’s nice that he changed his mind but it was only a selfish move on his part because part of HIS family is effected, not anyone else. He could give a crap about any other gay people he’s not related to.

      Mar 17, 2013 at 1:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian
      Brian

      Jaroslaw – I was anticipating you would use the “straw man” argument that Sen. Portman is an elected official and you are not but I tabled it hoping you wouldn’t. What I see in you is a genuinely concerned guy holding up a Senator to a standard you will not ascribe to yourself. As a matter of principle, it matters not he is a Senator and you are not. You have as much of an obligation to have an “open mind” as anyone else you call-out to have one….and sadly, you don’t. I suspect if we looked at your “past actions” you wouldn’t be proud of all of them. I know I’m not proud of all of mine. Sen. Portman is accountable for his past actions but not to you. God, family and every six years the voters of Ohio is to whom he owes accountability. An apology? Did you go around apologizing to everyone you offended by your past actions. I would guess not. Do you require apologies from all the millions of people who were anti-gay and now are not. Their collective individual power is far, far more important then Sen. Portman’s. After all, the powerful people of Maryland, Maine and Washington changed the momentum, were the first to vote our rights in, and likely are having a positive impact on the thinking of US Supreme Court justices. Did you want an apology from each of those people? I’d rather have their support. I’ll take their vote. I’m proud of their action. It make make you feel warm and fuzzy if Sen. Portman apologizes for his votes and public expressions did hurt our cause but now those very same things work in our favor. Perhaps the Senator did apologize? By your own admission we only read the article we didnt hear, see or read his entire statement. I expect he said “he’s sorry” to his son Will on more then one occasion and that’s the most important apology. No, Jarslaw, what you are hung up on his looking backward and the atmospherics around him which to some extent, in the words of Chris Christie, “are none of your business” or mine. What does concern me more then anything, and should you, is what Sen. Portman does going FORWARD. The zeal of a convert can be very compelling, overpowering and productive for LGBT especially in the circles the Senator travels. At the end of the day, the apologies you require from those who opposed us is not essential to embrace them. Indeed, if all LGBT persons paid the attention to what “they did” instead of what “they are going to do” after they came out we’d never made the progress we have and we’d still be apologizing. Get over it. Look at what Sen. Portman does now. That’s what really counts. And since you’re hung up on him being a Senator then add to the ledger sheet you’ve created for him the power and influence he exhibits and already has used by publicly changing his position. Keep your eye on the ball, what’s really important: marriage equality. I’m looking at what’s helpful to LGBT going forward in our fight for equality new allies, changed minds, inclusiveness. You need to stop carping and get on board and see the enormous value in having Sen. Portman on our side. Show the compassion we all want. Welcome and include him. Watch what he does. Sadly, you are stuck in the past wanting to judge, exclude and punish instead. If not me, then take a cue from Rev. Matin Luther King or Nelson Mandella about how one should deal with one’s oppressors oppressors. Perhaps they will open your mind and help you let your bitterness go toward Sen. Portman, me and presumably anyone who does not behave exactly as you want them to.

      Mar 17, 2013 at 3:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian
      Brian

      Hey Victor, why so bitter? As I said to Jaroslaw, do you think the millions of people in Maine, Maryland and Washington State don’t give a crap about gay people? Do you question their motives and attach the very worst of them to them. Why do you even care, “why”? All that matters to LGBT is Portman “did”. Happily this scenario has and continues to play out in homes across the country: Will Portman came out; parents changed their views over time. In such a short time, millions of Americans changed their views. Why? Because they learned they have a friend, colleague or loved one who is gay. Are they all selfish too? No, of course not love and compassion overcame them. Where’s yours?

      Mar 17, 2013 at 3:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Brian – I guess you missed the part about overkill. I didn’t even read your diatribe when I saw how long it was. Have a nice day.

      Mar 17, 2013 at 3:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian
      Brian

      Well if that’s the extent of your comments, then we’ve made progress.
      P.S. Get in line. lol My family & friends hate that I overwrite too. I’m working on it but apparently not too well with you.

      Mar 17, 2013 at 4:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • brent
      brent

      @mcflyer54: youre saying Portman wasn’t on the ticket because his son was gay. How do you explain Cheney being on the ticket, people knew he had a gay daughter.Wasn’t Obama thinking of politics when he changed his position. He had a tough re-election to fight and he needed gays, there money and votes.

      Mar 17, 2013 at 9:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • brent
      brent

      @mz.sam: Obama supporting gay marriage in an election year was not a stunt.

      Mar 17, 2013 at 9:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • brent
      brent

      @Jaroslaw: Do gay people have a special talent for people with problems that don’t effect us personally.

      Mar 17, 2013 at 9:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • brent
      brent

      @Victor_in_PA: Democrats don’t vote for themselves. They are always telling people you should vote you’re economic interests.

      Mar 17, 2013 at 9:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Derek Williams
      Derek Williams

      @brent: At a mere 4% of the self declared electorate (based on US Census exit polls 2004, 2008 and 2012), gays were the last people Obama needed in the last election. What he really needed was the 96% of self declaring heterosexuals.

      So long as they don’t utter anything too inflammatory, and sometimes even when they do, politicians can do without LGBT altogether, as previous Republican administrations have managed to do over the past several decades, and plan to continue to do for the foreseeable future.

      This is a problem known as Tyranny Of The Majority, and we would do well to keep it in mind when trying to win people over.

      Mar 17, 2013 at 9:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      brent 79 I don’t understand your question.

      Mar 17, 2013 at 10:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • brent
      brent

      @Derek Williams: Ok

      Mar 18, 2013 at 1:14 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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