Rob Portman: Suddenly pro gay rights when it’s his son

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As reported by the Huffington Post, “In 2011, Portman’s ‘openly hostile’ record on gay rights led to hundreds of students at the University of Michigan objecting to the senator speaking at the school’s graduation ceremony.”

My, how things change.  Two years ago, Portman’s son came out to the Portman family – and suddenly, like a lightning bolt, it hit him:  OMG, gays should have rights too!


Said Portman, in reflecting on his flip-flop, “It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective, and that’s of a Dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have — to have a relationship like Jane and I have had for over 26 years . . . .”

Let us, too, reflect:  Portman has been very vocal in his belief that marriage is strictly one-man/one-woman.  In 1996, while in the House, Portman was a co-sponsor of the Defense of Marriage Act.  In 2009, Portman voted to deny same-sex couples in Washington State the right to adopt children, and as recently as 2010, he supported an amendment to ban same-sex marriage.  According to Think Progress, in June 2012, he opposed the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, “explaining to ThinkProgress that businesses should be able to fire gay people without fear of legal action.”

I’m sure he does love his son and I’m sure that he does want his son to have equal opportunities.  Except – how come he didn’t care about other peoples’ sons and daughters in 1996 and 2009 and 2010?  How come he was willing to throw other gay individuals under the bus until it was his son that the wheels were rolling over?  How come he didn’t have this “Christian charity” outlook when he was seeking to deny other peoples’ children those equal opportunities?

The short answer:  He’s a hypocrite and a coward, and if he had any integrity at all, he’d tell his son, Sorry, kid, just like everybody else, you don’t deserve the same rights as the man-on-top/woman-on-bottom crowd get.

As soon as a female family member gets knocked up out of wedlock, I guess we can count on his support for abortion rights, as well.



9 Responses to “Rob Portman: Suddenly pro gay rights when it’s his son”

  1. avatar MarcoD

    He changed. Thats all that matters. Spite is a waste of time.

    • avatar Ellen

      What matters is not that he felt a certain way a few years ago, but instead, it matters how he feels now. I don’t consider it hypocritical whatsoever to be able to open up your mind for new input, new data, new facts, new emotions … and chance your stance if you feel compelling reason to do so. That’s exactly what Portman did and I give him kudos for accepting his son’s choice and shifting his stance to accommodate that acceptance, not only for his son, but for all gay people.

      • avatar Bill

        Do you really think he “feels” that way, Ellen, or do you think he just wants the best possible for his son. As Bob points out below, the republicans try to curry favor with Hispanics, but why? For their votes. Doing things for the right reasons matters. Doing things for personal or political gain isn’t admirable in my book.

  2. avatar Rob

    I think it does matter a great deal how he treated homosexuals a few years ago. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic that he’s come around. But it shows a lack of empathy for other people. Empathy is a defining characteristic that we should hope for in our representatives: the ability to put themselves into the shoes of ALL their constituents. I don’t find it spiteful to get a little upset that he never considered other people’s children when he cast his votes and spewed hateful rhetoric. Again, it’s fantastic that he’s changed his bigoted viewpoint. I just wish that many of these people would see the harm they cause to other people…not just realize it when it hits close to home.

  3. avatar Lyndi
  4. avatar Bob

    We are all shaped, for good or bad, by our life experiences. I hope Rob has learned to be epathetic, and less pious, but I doubt it. His change of heart is self serving. Reminds me of the GOP, deciding that they need to be nice to Hispanics because the GOP cannot win national elections without the Hispanic vote.

    • avatar Bill

      Bob – Exactly. I vented on FB with this:
      This has been bothering me all day, though I was working so haven’t read a lot of opinion yet. I would praise an ordinary father or mother (one not in a position of great authority and leadership responsibilities) who were moved to change their views of homosexuality and related matters when a child came out to them.

      But I have a hard time with giving Portman too much credit. I mean, I’m glad to have his support, but it seems what motivated him was more self-interest, in the sense that love and concern for one’s family is a form of self interest. But I would expect more from a person in his position – a position with the responsibility of acting and legislating in the common good, that could have rationalized support for gay folk, including marriage equality, without having to be moved by a personal circumstance.

      Does anyone doubt that he would today and always be as virulently anti-gay as his voting record suggests had he had no gay children, no personal stake in the matter? Shouldn’t we expect more from those who make policy, who are supposedly acting for the good of us all, especially in simple matters of justice?

      In reality, this change of heart strikes me as consistent with typical republicanism, like the popular FB meme says: “What’s mine is mine; what’s yours is negotiable.” I have little faith that Portman would have come to this conclusion out of a sense of justice, common sense, decency and morality, which he, in his position as a national leader, should have been able to do.

  5. avatar Sean Michael

    Good for Rob Portman. Now if only everyone else could just come around. I don’t think he should be put down for this. I think it shows how this world is slowly changing. Im sure he is not the only senator to vote No No No on things and now since has started voting Yes Yes Yes. Sometimes some people are just so closed minded that they need a reality check to wake them up, and I think that’s what he got. Those senator’s are all so corrupt I think they forget why they are really there in the 1st place. I would think we would a pat on the back or something. We welcome an “ordinary father or mother (one not in a position of great authority and leadership responsibilities) who were moved to change their views of homosexuality and related matters when a child came out to them” and I think we should do the same here. So welcome to the community Portman Family


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