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Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio made a stunning reversal. He announced, in the Columbus Dispatch, that he now supports gay marriage, two years after his son revealed that he is gay.
In a column, published in today’s Dispatch, Portman explained the emotional decision, writing, “I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married.”
He admits this hasn’t always been his belief, noting that he previously opposed same-sex marriage. “Then something happened that led me to think through my position in a much deeper way,” he writes.
Portman writes that when his son Will told him he is gay two years ago, he began to contemplate his position. The senator and his wife, Jane, “were proud of him for his honesty and courage,” he writes. “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.”
Will’s revelation allowed him to consider the issue from a “new perspective” and hopes that all three of his children can have “happy, meaningful lives with the people they love, a blessing Jane and I have shared for 26 years.”
USA Today reports that prior to today’s news, Portman had a long record of opposing same-sex marriage, having voted for the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) while in the House in 1996. He also voted for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
On Thursday, Portman said he supports banning the part of DOMA that keeps the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage, but he still believes that states have the right to choose recognizing same-sex marriages. Although, he did stress that he’s not going to rush to pass legislation on the matter.
"I felt it was important to let my constituents know where I stand because these court cases are going to encourage members of the media to ask senators and House members what their position is,” Portman said Thursday, adding that it was important to do so before the Supreme Court makes its decision on the matter.