Will Portman Says He’s ‘Especially Proud’ of His Dad for Coming Out for Marriage Equality


As you may know, Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) last night became the first sitting Republican U.S. Senator to support marriage equality, telling CNN's Dana Bash that he evolved on the issue after his son told him he was gay.

Will Portman, his son, praised his dad on Twitter early this morning, writing "Especially proud of my dad today".

The younger Portman goes to Yale, according to his Twitter profile, and has an interest in "int'l development, prisons, Latin America, whitewater kayaking, @sporcle, lots more."


  1. says

    I like the idea that we should be in anyway gracious when these jerks finally get around to accepting us but no. They cemented their irrelevance and the fact that at the end they finally come around, to me, just drives the point further that they shouldn’t be respected, listened to or kept in office. Like an adult finally learning how to use the toilet, and what? You want me to be proud or happy?

  2. says

    it speaks volumes about the sorry-state of our species, in regards to having any concept of the perpetuation of prejudice against targeted groups, when it’s major headlining news that….what? a republican senator made the brave decision to be…..a decent human being?

    because that’s what it means. you’re not “amazing” for supporting LGBT Equality, or gay marriage. You’re a decent human being.

  3. BobN says

    I’m sure he loves his dad. But Dad’s positions are inconsistent, hypocritical, and still fundamentally anti-gay.

    I’m glad you came out, kid, and I’m glad your dad has changed some of his ideas. I’m sure you’ll continue to work on him. In the meantime, though, I’d step away from the Twitter for a while.

  4. ace1981 says

    On one hand, I guess we should all be happy about this announcement in that it drives another stake into the anti-gay lobby. On the other hand, it’s dismaying that politicians (of all stripes) seem to require a personal investment into an issue to do what’s right. If our leaders simply put logic and justice over their own selfish politicking, gay marriage wouldn’t be an issue at all.

  5. Ozu says

    Ugh, big deal. The only time Republicans “evolve” on the issue is when they retire or if they have a gay kid. Even the Republicans are willing to give transgressors a pass on the matter if they don’t squawk too much about it while in office.

    But that’s it. The rest end up like the unfortunate head of the Illinois Republican party who nearly lost his job for supporting equality and three state senators run out of office in New York for voting their conscious and not the party line. Trust me, Portman would still be a jackass on the issue if not for his dumb kid.

  6. disgusted american says

    your dad aint all that kid – he still thinks YOU SHOULD BEG for your rights from each and every state……your dad can kiss my ass.

  7. says

    it should be the other way around. Dad should be saying “I’m astounded at the strength of my own son to Come Out to me despite my longstanding oppositing to LGBT people and their rights to equality and fair treatment. I can’t even fathom how hard his life must have been spending more than 20 years knowing his family and his family’s chosen political affiliates consider him a second-class citizen”

  8. daya says

    Yes, I am glad for the elder’s support. It does add to the collective voice. But as pointed out more elegantly (or more blatantly) by some of the above comments, what has happened to our ability to have compassion without a situation smacking us right in the face. As with Gov. Scott of Florida saying that he’s now in support of Affordable Care Act because of what he saw his mother go through. Compassion is to understand, even feel for someone else’s suffering without need to necessarily go through that ourselves. This is a uniquely human capacity that so many on the right seem to be lacking.
    So, I’m glad that Will came out to his father and put a real face on Gay issues. It’s a start, just a start…

  9. NotA says

    What this kid’s now going to learn is that there are a hell of a lot of petty, hateful, close-minded, bitter gay men in the world.

    E.g.: “He should step away from Twitter for a while.” Why? Because your hate may spew forth at him? Just dreadful.

  10. EchtKultig says

    “But as pointed out more elegantly (or more blatantly) by some of the above comments, what has happened to our ability to have compassion without a situation smacking us right in the face.”

    This is so true, and, in my opinion, is a huge elephant in the room that nobody is noticing. It goes beyond the liberal-conservative dialectic. Though conservatives are more likely to be guilty of it, I’m sure, for example, some of the parents who subjected their children to humiliation on Jimmy Kimmel’s cruel video segments were card-carrying democrats. It seems like the short-attention span, internet echo-chamber so many people live in keeps people from being able to stop for just a second and think “am I having as much empathy for those around me as I should?” I come from a large family and the sibling who is most involved in social media is the one who’s the most disconnected from the reality of what other people, both in the family and out of it, think of their actions. It may seem like the pot calling the kettle black, I’ve had some pretty epic vitriol right on this forum, but I think I’ve only really lashed out at the worst offenders. Like the trolls who appeared after Obama’s re-election to say he was the worst president for gay rights ever. When, of course, the opposite is true and his opponent would have been the worst ever.
    This good news is this is another nail in the coffin of Republican intransigence on this issue; the bad news is it’s a pretty big coffin to bury and we are decades away from the issue really being put to rest. I think we are in for a disappointment from the Supreme Court – brace yourselves.

  11. Brian says

    These comments are totally out of line, although typical of this site. The son isn’t writing as an angry gay rights activist, which is the perspective you guys are taking. I understand your anger from that perspective. But the son is writing as someone who just came out to his father, which must have been an incredibly scary thing to do given his father’s very public anti gay stance. And from his son’s perspective, I’m sure his father is a hero. He apparently totally embraced his son, and did a very public about turn on a very hot button issue. The senator is certainly taking abuse from the gay community, which I’m sure he expected, but he’s also taking a very real risk with his constituency. Ohio leans against gay marriage so he’s now out of step with his constituents, but more importantly voters will really resent that they voted for a senator that shared their anti gay views, and he abandoned them for the sake of his son. So we can say he’s still a bigot, or selfish or whatever, but the son has to be amazed at his father’s reaction, and his tweet is exactly the right reaction of a son proud, and probably shocked, at his father’s reaction.

  12. Zlick says

    Your dad is a jerk who forgets he has constituents.

    I’m doing a slow burn on this . … and sorry, Will … though I’m glad your dad had this particular revelation and is seemingly cool with your being gay, his selfishness in only coming to this conclusion when it affects him personally makes him an utter failure as a public representative – and doubly so as a U.S. Senator, the second highest elected public office one can hold. He’s pathetic and should retire in shame. That does not mean he’s a bad dad, but he’s disgraceful as a senator.

  13. DB says

    Wonderful news. If gay people want equality, we must be out of the closet. This is one more example that coming out will change society for the better.

  14. Rob says

    I second what Brian said, though I would temper it slightly, as Will didn’t call his dad a “hero” — he said he was especially proud of him today, presumably because he recognizes that his dad has evolved on an issue and really let go of some very deeply ingrained beliefs. Is Senator Portman where he should be yet? Probably not. But he has come a long way, and it is these types of stories that really have an impact on those who come from a similar starting point. We all have limited energy and resources. I don’t intend to expend mine complaining about how someone who has recently begun to show support for marriage equality wasn’t with us all along. I think our energy is better spent by criticizing our current foes, encouraging our allies and persuading those in the middle.

  15. nick says

    Congratulations to the younger Mr. Portman.
    If he wants to get married-it will have to be outside of his home state. His father personally assured his good friend Phil Burris, a right-wing hate monger and religious nut case, in conversation with him yesterday that he will not lift a finger to advance a repeal of the same sex marriage ban in Ohio. I am Mr. Portman would be happy to attend his son’s wedding in NY or MA or any of the small number of states of reason in America.

  16. says

    Except he didn’t “just” come out to his dad. Daddy told the Romney campaign about it when they were looking at Veep candidates. So when we are safely out of the election cycle, daddy suddenly feels safe enough to go public with his “change of heart.”

  17. AG says

    I hope Will knows that most gay men are not as hateful, intolerant, and closed-minded as the Dem hacks who typically post on this site.

  18. Dan Mc says

    PDX Guy: It took Portman that long to realized he couldn’t “pray away the gay.”

  19. JohnAGJ says

    If Will ever reads any of these comments I hope he knows not everyone shares their sentiment. Congrats Will, I’m glad your coming out went well and that you had a hand in helping your father change his views on SSM. I hope he continues to reflect upon having a gay son and how else laws may negatively impact you besides just marriage. This was a good first step, giant leap really in many ways, and it shows just how close you two really are.

  20. lewlew says

    When your acceptance of gay folk is completely self-serving, I’m not impressed.

    There. I said that as nicely as I could.

  21. says

    the best thing about this is that it utterly HAS to get other anti-Equality folks, on both sides of the aisle, to start to think hard about Factual Reality – no family, no matter what their religious, social or political views, is “immune” from having gay children.

    we. are. everywhere.

    it speaks to the greater truth – we affect more change when we Personalize – put a face, a name, a PERSON to “what gay is”. when people realize that they are discriminating against their own blood, those with a conscience will be move to change.

    so, kudos to this family and their first big steps. and may it inspire more progressive change in them, and their friends and political affiliates.

    and may the Portman’s now speak out against any and all anti-LGBT policies, get behind ENDA, and actually address the ongoing use of “gays” as a wedge-issue by the GOP.

  22. Wade says

    Ditto JohnAGJ.

    This is a big deal. Congrats on coming out so publicly Will, and thank you for moving your dad along. As as you’re learning very quickly, there are a lot of gays who can’t get out of their own victimhood.

    Thank you thank you!

  23. jim says

    I can’t understand the pervasive negative and bitter responses to the Portman announcements at towleroad. I’m not surprised, but I can’t understand it. Most people, politician or not, only change long-held beliefs when it becomes personal for them. That’s human nature, especially in this country. Also, who knows how SCOTUS will go on marriage equality. There are still those who seek to overturn DOMA legislatively, and we now have the first sitting REPUBLICAN senator who has moved over to supporting marriage equality. This is big–but nothing is ever good enough for the bitter commenters at towleroad.

  24. says

    JIM – I hear you, but i think you’re not hearing others: specifically, if change is only going to come when the gay children of anti-gay conservatives Come Out, how bloody long is that going to take?

    clearly, having gay friends wasn’t enough to change Portman’s history of anti-gay votings. Nor was any comprehension of LGBT youth suicides, basic human inequality issues, nor stopping to think about, well, other gay people’s kids.

    yes. many folks only change when it becomes “personal”, and by personal we mean “in our immediate family” – but that doesn’t mean that that’s OK – or even particularly noble.

    i think it’s great that he has developed empathy from understanding he’s been voting and working against his own son for all these years. now if only folks would learn to have empathy, you know, for other people’s children.

  25. Zlick says

    Really, Jim? You don’t get it? A man who is elected to serve his constituents and the U.S. Constitution is vehemently against some U.S. citizens until his own flesh and blood turns out to be one of those very citizens? And then announces his craven about-face on SOME of his anti-gay stances only AFTER the presidential election, holding on to that news – and likely having those anti-gay stances in the first place – in efforts to suck up to voters he perceives to be bigoted? That’s what some of the reaction is about, Jim.

  26. RHR IN TN says

    Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Of course the reason sucks, but, bottom line, a pretty important Republican Senator just expressed his support. I say kill Sen. Portman with kindness, get him to do our bidding with other Repubs, and focus all this negative eneergy on people who are still our enemies.

  27. Randy says

    This Senator does need to update us on his ENDA position. Most people support ENDA. This shouldn’t be a big deal.

    (Actually, can we get beyond ENDA, and just add “sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression” to the various Civil Rights Acts that already exist?)

  28. jjose712 says

    I really hope this kid never read this. He is proud of his dad, and he has reasons to be proud of his dad.
    He is raised in a republican family and instead of stay closeted, marry a girl and cheat on her with guys, he came out.
    And his coming out has an impact in his dad views, wich is good.

    Sorry but i don’t understand the hateful coments in this case

  29. jjose712 says

    When i was saying that i hope he never read this i was refering to some coments.

    He didn’t call his dad a hero, or wanted praise for him about his change of mind, he is simply proud of him, and in my opinion he has reasons to be proud of him

  30. BobN says

    Randy, Portman opposes ENDA (after his son came out) and, worse, supports tougher “religious protections”.

  31. Shane says

    For those of you who don’t understand the negative comments, my straight married sister from Ohio called the revelation this morning “GALLING”. How dare he bring his son into it? As a public servant, you can say you have evolved, fine. But your son came out two years ago. You were being offered the Vice-Presidency candidacy a few months ago. We can do the math, Senator Portman.
    I don’t consider the commenters here bitter, victimized, or negative. They are self-realized, honest, empathic men, speaking the truth. We say thanks to elder Portman for his support, and to his son for coming out. But we don’t ignore the context. Compassionate conservatives need to rethink their positions, or at least their adjectives.

  32. DK says

    Happily for Portman the younger, the same method of banning marriage and civil unions by constitutional amendment used back in 2004 in his father’s represented state and I’m assuming his own home state can also be used to recover that right, though who knows how long that will take. It’s good that he’s only 21 and might not have found any one to marry or even join in a civil union with yet.
    But then if he ends up wishing to join with a non-citizen, then that just ends up being a whole different barrel of fish and who knows if Portman’s states’ democratic processes (as per http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/editorials/2013/03/15/gay-couples-also-deserve-chance-to-get-married.html ) will be able to get around that.

  33. Ali Berzon says

    I’m a democrat, lifelong democrat..but the negative comments here are coming from democrats who DON’T CARE about marriage equality, and LOVE to see marriage equality be a wedge issue between democrats and republicans. They find it threatening that a republican could be for gay marriage, because for them..gay marriage isn’t that big of an issue, other democratic policies are bigger issues…but they use gay marriage as a manipulative tactic to entice gay people to the democratic party. In otehr words, it’s not marriage equality that matters for them, it’s the needs of the democratic party that trumps that.

    For the rest of us who believe in marriage equality more than any political party..we celebrate this news and celebrate ANYONE who comes out in favor of marriage equality (be they democrat, republican or libertarian)

    THANK YOU WILL for coming out, attaching a face to our community, and campaigning for your, our and all LGBT rights. YOU made a huge impact on society and so has your dad today.

  34. Scott Johansen says

    This kid is brave and he’s a personal hero of mine. Thank you for coming out Will, and know that there’s many trolls who post on this site, but the gay community thanks you and your bravery to come out. Also saw a pic of your family and your two dogs are adorable =) please thank your Dad for speaking up for our rights. It means a great deal to many of us.

  35. Wiley says

    It may be crude to say, but I can’t wait for the nude pics of Will to make their way out :) His dad may be an ass, but Will is a hotty.