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GOP Senator Rob Portman Comes Out for Marriage Equality After His Son Comes Out as Gay: VIDEO


Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) on Thursday became the first sitting GOP senator to back same-sex marriage, explaining his decision to do so in a sit-down interview with CNN's Dana Bash.

"I'm announcing today a change of heart on an issue a lot of people feel strongly about. It has to do with gay couples' opportunity to marry. During my career in the House and also the last few years in the Senate I've taken a position against gay marriage rooted in part in my faith and my faith tradition..

"I had a very personal experience which is my son came to Jane, my wife and I, told us he was gay and that it was not a choice, that's just part of who he is and that he had been that way since he could remember."

Watch clips of the interview, AFTER THE JUMP...

CNN adds:

Portman says his son, now a junior in college, helped him work through his decision to announce his change in position on gay marriage and blessed the idea of publicly announcing Will Portman's sexuality.

"I think he's happy and, you know, proud that we've come to this point, but he let it be my decision just as you know, it's going to be his decision as to the role he plays going forward in this whole issue," said Portman.

Until now, this was a secret to most people in politics, but not everyone.

Last year, when Romney was vetting Portman to be his running mate, the Ohio Republican informed both Romney and his top campaign advisers that he has a gay son.

"I told Mitt Romney everything," said Portman with a laugh. "That process is, intrusive would be one way to put it. But, no, yeah, I told him everything."

Portman also wrote an op-ed in the Columbus Dispatch, which reads, in part:

One way to look at it is that gay couples’ desire to marry doesn't amount to a threat but rather a tribute to marriage, and a potential source of renewed strength for the institution....

...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.


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  1. His Op Ed in today's Columbus Dispatch:

    Posted by: Gus | Mar 15, 2013 7:11:18 AM

  2. I suppose I should feel good about his change of heart but maybe he should have been more empathetic, considering he represents a large number of people, without having had his son come out to him, now that it's personal he's for gay marriage but before he couldn't see that he was a homophobe.

    Posted by: lk | Mar 15, 2013 7:15:50 AM

  3. and there you have it. this is how it's done. come out, people. thanks, son of rob portman. best of luck.

    Posted by: Shane | Mar 15, 2013 7:16:21 AM

  4. This is how we change the world, one family at a time. Thanks Will Portman for chatting with your dad. The more you know people that are queer, the more likely you are to support them. Also his son is quite cute.

    Posted by: thrutch | Mar 15, 2013 7:18:29 AM

  5. @LK Is he any different than the millions of others over the years - including many of us? This is exactly why there has been encouragement for gay people to come out. Gays went from being that mysterious "other" to Portman to someone close, which gave him a perfect example that we are not like what he taught.

    Posted by: JohnAGJ | Mar 15, 2013 7:19:17 AM

  6. It takes coming out for families to know and understand us - we're people, we love and dream, and we want equality like everyone else. This story is very common in America. My own parents never disliked gay people, but it took me coming out for them to become activists for gay rights.

    Posted by: Reality | Mar 15, 2013 7:23:21 AM

  7. This is cool, and father and son look damn similar.

    Posted by: Paul R | Mar 15, 2013 7:23:46 AM

  8. Mr. Portman is clearly a lovely, flexible man capable of change. I celebrate both he and his son as their relationship grows and influences others. This sort of thing is happening everywhere.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Mar 15, 2013 7:32:13 AM

  9. So, let me get this straight...if his son had not come out as being gay, he would still be against gays getting married and that families that have gay children would still be fighting him and his party? I am glad he 'converted', however, would have been more appreciative and more substantial if he had done this without knowing his son was gay.

    Posted by: CB | Mar 15, 2013 7:39:43 AM

  10. Good grief, it's a bit soon to be fawning over the man as being "a lovely, flexible man capable of change." HIs votes have been 100% anti-gay, and he STILL thinks employers should be able to fire you for being gay rather than risk being "uncomfortable." It's a good thing and more power to his son for affecting the change, but let's not blow the guy.

    Posted by: Matthew Rettenmund | Mar 15, 2013 7:50:44 AM

  11. This is huge and refreshing in that it's a Republican that is still in office. He's also from a very important swing state which gave the election to Bush in 2004 on the backs of an anti-gay marriage amendment.

    Best of luck to him and his son.

    Posted by: Brian in Texas | Mar 15, 2013 7:51:32 AM

  12. I understand some complaints, but the truth is there are some elected republicans with gay sons that strongly opposes gay marriage.
    And even more, there are gay sons defending their parents political opinions.
    At least he cares enough about his son to change. If that wasn't the case, there won't be any chance of him changing his opinion.
    And at least the son doesn't seem to be the standard self hating gay republican

    Posted by: jjose712 | Mar 15, 2013 7:53:27 AM

  13. "I suppose I should feel good about his change of heart but..."

    "Good grief, it's a bit soon to be fawning over the man..."

    God damn, people. This is exactly what we want. We want people to meet gays and gays to come out so others can evolve. People have a right to evolve. Most Americans used to be anti-gay, but they have evolved. They have a right to. Make up your mind, do you want people to support us, or do you want people to stay bigoted to preserve a narrative?

    Posted by: Jake Orlando | Mar 15, 2013 7:57:43 AM

  14. JJOSE712, would you care to name names?

    Posted by: Wil | Mar 15, 2013 8:04:15 AM

  15. What a selfish self-centered bastard!

    However, having said that, we shall take his vote against the rest of the knuckle-crawling bigots!

    Posted by: BRAINS | Mar 15, 2013 8:09:15 AM

  16. It is interesting that he would like to keep gay marriage at the state level where he would not have to vote on it.
    The uncomfortable thing is less about adding gays to the list of protected classes, it's about there being a list that you can't legally discriminate against. Some people have an idea that there are people who cannot be fired because they are black, a woman or muslim. These people would be out of a job if their bosses weren't afraid of a lawsuit, so these people believe. ENDA would add more people to a list they are already uncomfortable with.

    Posted by: Armando | Mar 15, 2013 8:30:21 AM

  17. Maybe everybody should have a gay child, if that's what it takes.

    Sad that you can be so ignorant about things unless the issue hits home, then you do a complete about face.

    Posted by: Jack M | Mar 15, 2013 8:42:34 AM

  18. the father looks gayer than he son...

    Posted by: V-8 | Mar 15, 2013 8:45:29 AM

  19. Yay for the Portman family. I'm glad the son is out and the senior Portman has had a change of heart on his political views. I am always shocked though, to hear a politician who says he has gay neighbors and friends and yet are still homophobic and/or are anti-equal marriage. The gays in his life didn't make a good impression? I cannot imagine these same gays not having the equality conversation with Rob and Jane. Could it be that there aren't gay people in their lives? Rob Portman says his faith and faith tradition were what he relied on to be a homophobe. Nice! Now there's separation of church and state for you. Why would anyone of sound mind and thought sign up for a religion which discriminates against others? Is this really a value or tradition one would want to keep? I think politicians could leave their religion at the door when they go to work. MILLIONS of ordinary citizens are capable of doing so. Again. I'm glad he loves his son enough to change his personal and political views. One at a time I guess!

    Posted by: JT | Mar 15, 2013 8:46:36 AM

  20. Am I supposed to pop a bottle of champagne because this lunkhead finally woke up to the excruciating illness of homophobia? Does EVERYONE have to have a gay child to suddenly realize the complete wrongness and harm caused by such blind hatred? I'm not Black and I'm not a dwarf and I'm not obese, etc., etc. -- and somehow I KNOW anyone who happens to be so is my equal in every way. You don't get medals for simply doing the right thing!

    Posted by: Bill | Mar 15, 2013 8:48:33 AM

  21. This is great progress, and we should definitely accept it, and we should definitely accept and support his vote.

    But let's be honest about what kind of progress it is, and not overstate it.

    It's huge that a sitting Republican feels he can publicly change his stance on gay rights because of his own son, rather than disown the son publicly or privately and refuse to discuss the issue, or worse, feel the need to double down on the hate to prove his own "virtue."

    That's wonderful. It may eventually turn into support. He may actually turn into an ally. At least, he's stepping out of the way, and anything that shatters the GOP monolithic voting block is good news.

    But at the same time, there's no indication that he's suddenly become empathetic, or cares about us, or that he wouldn't still be a raging homophobe if his son hadn't come out, and we shouldn't pretend he is. This is as much self-interest and the same sort of crap we see from Republicans all the the time as it is any sign of a real change of heart or a sign that Republicans are getting the message.

    This is "Oh, my God, I just realized this might actually affect real people." That's progress, yes, but let's not nominate the man for sainthood just yet.

    Posted by: Lymis | Mar 15, 2013 8:51:07 AM

  22. I'm shocked by the anger in everyone's comments. A SITTING REPUBLICAN SENATOR JUST CAME OUT FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY. THIS IS BIG NEWS!

    I'm assuming most of us are not going to agree with him on every issue. I still probably wouldn't vote for him, but let's celebrate this moment. It's a big one. Too often conservative politicians wait until after they're out of office to support equality.

    This also gives cover for other Republican senators (i.e. Susan Collins, Mark Kirk, perhaps Lisa Murkowski, etc.) to make the jump.

    Posted by: Daniel | Mar 15, 2013 8:53:07 AM

  23. Boy, sure makes a difference when it hits home, doesn't it?

    Posted by: Bill Michael | Mar 15, 2013 8:55:17 AM

  24. Make no mistake, I am glad for him, both he and his son. This is truly a "teachable" moment.

    Posted by: Bill Michael | Mar 15, 2013 8:56:09 AM

  25. The odds are that one in five homes on any city street has a gay child.

    Posted by: Bill Michael | Mar 15, 2013 8:57:30 AM

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