Here’s a headline that I think many of us were not expecting during the week of CPAC. Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who was once considered one of the frontrunners to be the Vice Presidential nominee to Mitt Romney, decided that now was the time to endorse same-sex marriage.
Portman was motivated by his 21-year old son, Will, who came out to his parents two years ago when he was a freshman at Yale University. Portman offered this statement today in the story that has everybody talking:
I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I’ve had for over 26 years. That I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is gay.
Portman is the first sitting Republican Senator to endorse marriage equality and he joins previously elected Republicans such as Dick Cheney, Jon Huntsman and Christine Todd Whitman. This is a noteworthy moment and an interesting footnote for the Republican Party going forward. Portman may not be a party leader, but he’s not exactly a backbencher either.
Nonetheless, for some (including myself) it is a bit unfortunate that it took a family member to convince Portman that denying people “the joy and stability of marriage” wasn’t a good idea. It should almost be common sense. But for some, it is not.
Portman is a social conservative and represents a state that’s near the middle of the country. His statement today took bravery of course given the far-right’s bid to support marriage inequality. Remember this is a party that saw Rick Santorum mount a serious bid for the Presidency just last year.
Rob Portman could’ve broken relations with his son, as some aspiring Republicans have had in the past, but he chose to support him. That we should applaud loudly and for quite a while. Portman could be the catalyst for the Republican Party to move forward on this issue and accept (and fight) for the inevitable in which same-sex marriage is legal nationally.
If Portman becomes someone who fights for marriage equality, then the win is worth even more.
Let’s hope so because we could be on the cusp of a societal change.