Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) announced on Thursday that he has changed his position on same-sex marriage and will now support marriage equality. The former staunch supporter of the Defense of Marriage Act credits his change in opinion to his son, Will, who came out to Portman as gay two years ago. Although economic issues will remain his office’s number one focus, Senator Portman will no longer continue to vote against same-sex marriage.
The Senator spoke with reporters on Thursday for interviews and also did a televised interview with CNN. He published an op ed explaining his shift in position in The Columbus Dispatch. Portman described the life event which led to the new personal and political philosophy: “My son came to Jane, my wife, and I, told us that he was gay, and that it was not a choice, and that it’s just part of who he is, and that’s [sic] who he’d been that way for as long as he could remember.”
When Will first came out, Portman looked to his church and also to former vice president Dick Cheney, whose daughter Mary is a lesbian, for guidance. Portman cited fatherhood, but also faith as his ultimate reasons for making the radical policy switch. On Thursday, he told the Plain Dealer, “The overriding message of love and compassion that I take from the Bible, and certainly the Golden Rule, and the fact that I believe we are all created by our maker, that has all influenced me in terms of my change on this issue.”
In his op-ed, he concluded, “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.”
Reuters adds that this is not revolutionary. The Republican party is becoming increasingly split on the issue of gay marriage because of growth in public acceptance of LGBTQ individuals in recent years.