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Senator Rob Portman Will Not Seek Republican Party's Nomination for President in 2016

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Republican Senator from Ohio Rob Portman announced yesterday that he would neither seek nor accept his party's nomination for President of the United States in 2016. Portman also made clear he was not interested in being considered as a Vice-Presidential running mate in this next national election cycle. Portman was considered on the short list to fill the VP slot in both 2008 and 2012.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Mr. Portman said he’ll seek re-election to a second Senate term, where his party has won a majority for the first time since he has been in the Senate. He served in a House GOP majority during most of his 12 years in that chamber.

“While I appreciate the encouragement I have received from many to run for president, my focus will remain on Ohio and running for re-election to the Senate in 2016,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to formally announcing my re-election campaign in the new year.”

Portman notably came out in favor of marriage equality after his college-aged son came out to him. Portman was the only serious Republican contender who had endorsed same-sex marriage. 

Portman was seen by many as an attractive candidate for the GOP because of his reputation as being one of the "Senate’s more deliberative center-right members", according to the AP, and being from the crucial swing-state of Ohio. However, had Portman decided to make a run for the White House, his path to his party's nomination would not have been unobstructed. Brian Brown and The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) announced they would go after Portman if he ran in 2016 because of his views on marriage equality:

"Rob Portman can forget about getting elected President of the United States," Brown said. "If he runs we will make sure that GOP primary voters are aware of his desire to redefine marriage and his willingness to see federal judges set aside the votes of 50 million Americans who enacted marriage amendments across the country because his son is gay. Rob Portman's son has a right to live as he chooses, but that does not give his father the right to redefine marriage."

Portman himself made note of how difficult a national bid would prove for him, given his views on marriage equality:

"It puts me at odds with my party in many respects. I believe it’s a conservative position...I never really thought deeply about it [before my son came to me]. It seems to me to the extent that it’s not a choice, which is what believe. That is, Republicans ought to treat people as they are...It probably makes it difficult for me to win the primary election at a national election.”


NOM Takes Credit For Defeating Gay Republicans, Will Target Sen. Rob Portman in 2016

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The National Organization for Marriage is taking credit for the defeat of several openly gay and pro-marriage equality Republicans on Nov. 4. Not surprisingly, though, a closer examination of election results raises significant questions about the group's claims. NOM wrote in a press release Monday:

Through their Super PAC, the NOM Victory Fund, the nation's largest organization supporting natural marriage opposed the election of Republican US House candidates Carl DeMaio (CA52) and Richard Tisei (MA6) as well as Republican US Senate candidate Monica Wehby of Oregon. Tisei and Wehby were defeated on Election Day while DeMaio conceded defeat yesterday.

DemaioDeMaio and Tisei are openly gay, and Wehby campaigned in support of marriage equality. However, in his analysis of how same-sex marriage played in the mid-term elections, The Washington Blade's Chris Johnson notes that the candidates who defeated DeMaio, Tisei and Wehby all support LGBT rights:

One might argue conservatives were so disaffected in those races that they stayed home and didn’t provide the necessary support to overcome the Republican rivals of Democratic candidates, especially in close races like California’s 52nd congressional district, where DeMaio was ahead in the final tally and declared the loser only after the provisional ballots were counted.

But that wouldn’t explain other races in which Republican challengers who support marriage equality were able to unseat Democratic opponents in close contests. Robert Dold, a former Republican House member who came out for marriage equality after leaving office, won in his bid to unseat Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), as did Carlos Curbelo, a Republican supporter of same-sex marriage who unseated Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.).

Dold and Curbelo were backed by Log Cabin Republicans, which reported that 10 of its 16 endorsed federal candidates won their races. "Election night was a terrific night to be a Republican, and an especially good night to be a Log Cabin Republican," Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo said in a release. 

Angelo said losses by DeMaio and Tisei made the results "bittersweet," but suggested that anti-gay groups like NOM weren't any more of a factor in those races than "vitriolic Democrats who would stop at nothing to maintain the identity politics status quo that keeps them in power."

PortmanEven without Demaio and Tisei, the number of House Republicans who support marriage equality will increase to six in the 114th Congress. Meanwhile, the Senate will include at least four Republicans who support marriage equality, including Ohio's Rob Portman, who has been identified as a possible GOP presidential candidate. And that's precisely where NOM President Brian Brown says the group is now turning its attention.

"Rob Portman can forget about getting elected President of the United States," Brown said in the group's press release Monday. "If he runs we will make sure that GOP primary voters are aware of his desire to redefine marriage and his willingness to see federal judges set aside the votes of 50 million Americans who enacted marriage amendments across the country because his son is gay. Rob Portman's son has a right to live as he chooses, but that does not give his father the right to redefine marriage."

"Rob Portman can forget about getting elected President of the United States," said Brown. "If he runs we will make sure that GOP primary voters are aware of his desire to redefine marriage and his willingness to see federal judges set aside the votes of 50 million Americans who enacted marriage amendments across the country because his son is gay. Rob Portman's son has a right to live as he chooses, but that does not give his father the right to redefine marriage. - See more at: http://www.nomblog.com/39827/#sthash.hfNxvuQL.dpuf
"Rob Portman can forget about getting elected President of the United States," said Brown. "If he runs we will make sure that GOP primary voters are aware of his desire to redefine marriage and his willingness to see federal judges set aside the votes of 50 million Americans who enacted marriage amendments across the country because his son is gay. Rob Portman's son has a right to live as he chooses, but that does not give his father the right to redefine marriage. - See more at: http://www.nomblog.com/39827/#sthash.hfNxvuQL.dpuf

GOP Sen. Rob Portman: Supporting Marriage Equality is 'A Position I Feel Very Comfortable With' - VIDEO

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In a kayaking interview with Johnathan Karl for Politics Confidential, Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) spoke at length about his decision last year to come out in support of marriage equality after his son Will told him he was gay. 

Said Portman:

I've thought about it more deeply and thought about the fact that this is not a choice and that my son deserves to have the same happiness that Jane and I have had and the stability that comes with marriage. We want to encourage that as Republicans. It's a position I feel very comfortable with and I'm glad I made it. 

Portman also discussed the reaction he's received from other parents of gay children, whether he thinks the GOP will evolve on the issue like he did, and his plans for 2016.

Check out the interview, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "GOP Sen. Rob Portman: Supporting Marriage Equality is 'A Position I Feel Very Comfortable With' - VIDEO " »


Rob Portman Says His Support for Gay Marriage Will Make a National Run for Office Difficult: VIDEO

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Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), who came out for marriage equality in March 2013 after his son Will told him he is gay, gave an interview to the Hoover Institution, part of which touched on the subject of his support for same-sex marriage and gay rights, Buzzfeed reports.

Said Portman: "It puts me at odds with my party in many respects. I believe it’s a conservative position...I never really thought deeply about it [before my son came to me]. It seems to me to the extent that it’s not a choice, which is what believe. That is, Republicans ought to treat people as they are...It probably makes it difficult for me to win the primary election at a national election.”

Watch the full interview, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Rob Portman Says His Support for Gay Marriage Will Make a National Run for Office Difficult: VIDEO" »


ENDA's Problems and Potential

By ARI EZRA WALDMAN

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would protect millions of Americans from being fired from their jobs simply because of their sexuality, will likely pass the United States Senate soon. A small handful of Republicans (Sens. Collins, Hatch, Heller, Portman, Ayotte, Kirk, and Toomey) joined every Democrat and Democratic-aligned Independent to overcome a Republican filibuster that would have prevented the Senate from even discussing the bill. The bill will most likely never pass the Republican-controlled House.

EqualityThe discussion on ENDA now turns to the law's religious exemptions. I wrote previously about the dangers of those exemptions: they are gaping holes in equality that threaten to make equality meaningless if left unchecked. Controversy surrounding those exemptions occupied nearly an entire hour of discussion during the "ENDA Situation Room," an expert roundtable streamed live here on Towleroad, hosted by leading ENDA advocate and Freedom to Work Founder Tico Almeida and co-hosted by New York Law School. What to do about proposed exemptions is dividing leaders of the gay community, pitting Lambda Legal and Human Rights Campaign advocates on different paths.

Not all religious exemptions to equality laws are bad; no one wants to force a church or synagogue to do something that its liturgy tells it not to. But a cavalier approach to these exemptions could be very bad. The ENDA religious exemption debate is not, counterintuitively, just about exemptions to ENDA's application. It is about future judicial interpretations of ENDA. It's about every future LGBT equality law. It is about accepting that LGBT equality is some special category of equality that unnecessarily gets a shorter reach, like swiss cheese with extra holes. It is about elevating and changing an unrelated right to an antagonist of equality. And every religious exemption that we let slide weakens our position on all of these issues in the next fight.

Continued AFTER THE JUMP.

Continue reading "ENDA's Problems and Potential" »


Republicans Seek to Amend, Expand Exemption in ENDA, Protecting Religious-Affiliated Entities

An amendment to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act's religious exemption authored by Sen. Rob Portman and cosponsored by Sens. Kelly Ayotte, Dean Heller, Orrin Hatch, and John McCain seeks to expand that exemption so that it protects religious-affiliated entities from being penalized by governments, Buzzfeed reports.

PortmanThe amendment reads:

“A religious employer’s exemption under this Act shall not result in any action by a Federal government agency, or any state or local government agency that receives Federal funding or financial assistance, to penalize or withhold licenses, permits, certifications, accreditation, contracts, grants, guarantees, tax-exempt status, or any benefits or exemptions from that employer, or to prohibit the employer’s participation in programs or activities sponsored by that Federal, state, or local government agency. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to invalidate any other federal, state, or local law or regulation that otherwise applies to an employer exempt under this section.”

According to Buzzfeed, LGBT advocates from Human Rights Campaign, American Civil Liberties Union and Freedom to Work will not actively seek to oppose the amendment, and all believe it is an unnecessary provision.

Another sought after amendment, coming from Pat Toomey, would expand the exemption's language, and all LGBT groups are opposed to it. A draft of that amendment was also published by Buzzfeed:

“(b) In addition, (i) an employer shall qualify for this exemption if it is (in whole or in part) managed by a particular religious corporation, association, or society; if it is officially affiliated with a particular religion or religious corporation, association, or society; or if the institution’s curriculum is directed toward the propagation of a particular religion; and (ii) This exemption shall apply regardless of whether the employer, or the employment position at issue, engages in secular activities as well as religious activities.”

The full Senate is expected to take up the bill as soon as today.

Some activists had already expressed concerns about the base religious exemptions in the bill. The NYT also wrote in an op-ed that it found them "terribly broad."


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