Ohio Senator Rob Portman is one of the leading Republican voices on economic issues and one of the voices standing against same-sex marriage. He is a man who stands strong for what he believes in, but he is also a father. As first reported by CNN on Friday, the senator announced a change of heart based on the revelation that his own son is gay.
Portman invited CNN to his Senate office to share the news that his 21-year-old son, Will, is gay and the revelation has changed his personal views and opinion on gay marriage. This is a powerful story because of the guts it took for Will to come out to his father, knowing his father was opposed to something that affects his own happiness. Luckily for Will, his father embraced him and journeyed down the road of acceptance. Portman told CNN:
“I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I’ve had for over 26 years. That I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is gay.”
Portman said that his son went to him and his wife and told them that is not a choice and was just who he was and as a parent, the senator’s first reaction was to love and support his son. Although he admits it didn’t change his views and decision-making much at first, the reality that his own son is gay eventually gave him a change of heart.
He cited two reasons for announcing it now. One reason is his comfort with his change of position on gay marriage and the second is the Supreme Court’s pending decision on a pair of gay marriage cases.
“Now it’s different, you know. I hadn’t expected to be in this position. But I do think, you know, having spent a lot of time thinking about it and working through this issue personally that, you know, this is where I am, for reasons that are consistent with my political philosophy, including family values, including being a conservative who believes the family is a building block of society, so I’m comfortable there now.”
Portman originally wasn’t comfortable discussing his son’s sexuality but as a father he is proud of his son and wants him to have happiness and to be able to raise and support a family and most importantly feel loved and welcomed by those who raised him and taught him his values.
The senator also revealed that he told Mitt Romney last year when he was being considered a GOP vice-presidential candidate and eventually passed over in favor of Paul Ryan. But he said the fact that his son was gay was not the reason he was passed over. He credits another Republican for giving him sound advice as to how to deal with a gay child.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney, whose daughter is a lesbian, simply told Portman:
“Follow your heart.”
And that is something not hard to do when it comes to your own children.