Two years ago, Senator Rob Portman’s son, Will, told his mother and father he was gay. Yesterday, March 14, 2013, Senator Portman came out of his closet to say that he now supports gay marriage.
Rob Portman was a co-sponsor of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) when he as a member of the House of Representatives. The legality of DOMA is about to be reviewed before the US Supreme Court. DOMA was passed in 1996.
Senator Portman does not appear to be leading a charge to change the gay marriage rules on a federal level. His statement is that the states should be allowed to make their own decisions on gay marriage without interference by the federal government. He wants his son to be able to enter into a long term relationship with his partner.
Since Ohio does not have a law supporting gay marriage, the change from supporting DOMA to stating that he wants his son Will to be able to enter into marriage doesn’t carry much weight. If Senator Portman really wants to support his son, he needs to get the Ohio GOP to help overturn the ban on gay marriage in Ohio.
The entire state government in Ohio is dominated by the GOP, including the governor, and majority membership in the House of Representatives and Senate. This is the Ohio GOP’s opportunity to make a change to permit gay marriage that many feel is overdue.
The 2004 ban on gay marriage still applies in Ohio.
“Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions,” according to the 2004 amendment to Ohio’s constitution. “This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.”
Senator Portman’s original opposition to same sex marriage was likely based upon Leviticus 18:22, which states: Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. The fact that the Defense of Marriage Act was passed on the basis of a verse in the Bible is one more violation of the separation of church and state of Article 1 of the Bill of Rights.
While many religions hold the view that same sex marriage is a sin, the Christian Spiritualist Temple supports marriage without regard to the sexual orientation of the participants. See http://www.christianspiritualisttemple.org for the statement supporting marriages and commitment ceremonies, and also the list of nine principles of the church. The Golden Rule is a key principle of spiritualism.
Sen. Rob Portman explained his change of heart in this commentary in Friday's Columbus Dispatch:
“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.”
In 2011, Jeff Sadosky, who was Senator Portman's communications director stated:
"Rob believes that marriage is a sacred bond between one man and one woman.”
This statement was made on April 20, 2011, which was after Will told his father and mother in February 2011 that he was gay.
It is interesting that Senator Portman didn’t change his position on same-sex marriage in 2011 instead of waiting over two years. As a member of the House of Representatives, he voted for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages, and he also voted to block adoptions by same-sex couples in Washington, DC in 1999.
There are many people from many different areas of society that are now supporting same-sex marriages. The spiritualist position is that the relationship between the partners and how they respect and love each other is much more important that their sexual orientation.
If the US Supreme Court makes the rulings regarding DOMA and California’s Proposition 8 in favor of same-sex marriages, Senator Portman’s support of same-sex marriage may be useful in helping to change the law in Ohio and across the nation.
Other prominent Republicans and public figures are pushing forward to allow same-sex marriages, with many declaring that no level of government should be involved in determining what people can marry each other.
There was a time when interracial marriages were illegal. It is time to drop the same barriers to same-sex marriage. Marriage should be an individual commitment and beyond government intervention.