When Sen. Rob Portman Flips, Gay Marriage is Over as a Political Issue



Yesterday, Scott Shackford wrote about the GOP's "complicated" relationship to gay marriage. That relationship just got a little less complicated.

Conservative Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who served in the Bush administration, is now in favor of gay marriage. Writing in the Columbus Dispatch, Portman cites the fact that one of his children is gay as decisive in his shift:

Two years ago, my son Will, then a college freshman, told my wife, Jane, and me that he is gay. He said he'd known for some time, and that his sexual orientation wasn't something he chose; it was simply a part of who he is. Jane and I were proud of him for his honesty and courage. We were surprised to learn he is gay but knew he was still the same person he'd always been. The only difference was that now we had a more complete picture of the son we love.

He invokes Ronald Reagan in pushing for marriage equality—"Ronald Reagan said all great change in America begins at the dinner table, and that's been the case in my family"—and concludes:

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.

Read the whole thing here.

Portman's conversion on the issue comes after high-profile flips by Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, whose announcements carried at least a whiff of politicial opportunism to them (Obama's came during a presidential campaign when he needed to shore up LGBT support among Democrats and Clinton's came a decade-plus after he signed the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act). Even with those caveats, they were still powerful indicators that the wheel has turned definitively in one direction. When a Christian conservative Republican signs on to the same basic policy shift, it's a fait accompli.

It's always a good thing when the state recognizes people first and foremost as individuals rather than members of groups that can be granted or denied privileges at the whim of political elites. Whether this presages getting the state out of the tax code regarding marriage or extending the same benefits to all couples regardless of orientation, treating all married couples the same makes sense. The only question that remains is how many politicians (mostly Republicans to be sure, but also a fair number of Democrats at the state and local level) insist on opposing marriage equality for the indefinite future.

Reason on gay marriage.

Watch "Why Gay Marriage is Winning":