Rob Portman changed his view of gay marriage in the way so many Americans have. Personal experience intervened.
A couple of years ago, the senator and his wife learned from their son that he is gay. That triggered deeper thought, Portman ultimately arriving, as he explained in a column in the Columbus Dispatch on Friday, at his wish that all three of his children have the chance “to lead happy, meaningful lives with the people they love,” that his son “have the same opportunities to pursue happiness and fulfillment as his brother and sister.”
For years, Portman explained his opposition as rooted in his faith, in “the sacred bond between a man and a woman.” What he learned from his son is that gay marriage complements conservative thinking, in the shape of personal liberty, limited interference from government and family as a cornerstone in our lives, people taking responsibility, making long-term commitments to each other.
More, in his Dispatch column, the senator pointed to the insight of our shared experience. Nine states and the District of Columbia have recognized gay marriage. The result has not been the ruin of traditional marriage. If anything, as Portman noted, it amounts to a “tribute,” coincidentally, the divorce rate falling the past decade.
Those who have watched Rob Portman aren’t surprised he embraced his son. Neither is it surprising how thoughtfully he changed his mind.