Skip to comments.Rob Portman, Gay Marriage, and Selfishness
Posted on 03/15/2013 2:45:48 PM PDT by nickcarraway
Rob Portmans dual revelations that his son is gay and that he has decided to support gay marriage are both a touching story of familial love and another signpost in the astonishingly rapid success of the gay-rights revolution. Just over eight years ago, when Republicans gleefully seized on the gay-marriage issue to mobilize their base in Portmans own state, it was inconceivable that a statewide Democrat would endorse gay marriage, let alone a Republican. The triumph of the issue relies upon the changing of minds some thanks to force of argument, others to personal contact with gay friends, colleagues, and neighbors. From that standpoint, Portmans conversion is a Very Good Thing. And yet as a window into the working of Portmans mind, his conversion is a confession of moral failure, one of which he appears unaware.
Here is the story Portman tells, in a Columbus Dispatch op-ed, of how he came to change his mind:
At the time, my position on marriage for same-sex couples was rooted in my faith tradition that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman. Knowing that my son is gay prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective: that of a dad who wants all three of his kids to lead happy, meaningful lives with the people they love, a blessing Jane and I have shared for 26 years.
By Portmans own account, in other words, he opposed gay marriage until he realized that opposition to gay marriage stands in the way of his own sons happiness.
Wanting your children to be happy is the most natural human impulse. But our responsibility as political beings and the special responsibility of those who hold political power is to consider issues from a societal perspective.
It is possible to argue that the societal cost of granting the right to gay marriage or, say, access to health insurance outweighs the benefit. The signal failure of conservative thought is an inability to give any weight to the perspective of the disadvantaged. Its one thing to argue that society cant afford to provide all its citizens with access to health insurance. Its quite another to dismiss the needs of the uninsured because the majority has insurance. In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Paul Ryan dismissed universal health insurance as a new entitlement we didnt even ask for. The construction was so telling we meant the majority who have access to regular medical care and would rather not subsidize those who dont.
It is also possible to change your mind on any of these questions. I support the estate tax. If I discovered my children were due to inherit a fortune from a long lost relative, its possible that the experience would prompt me to change my mind. Id like to think it wouldnt. And if I did change my mind, Id have some obligation to explain how I had learned something new in the process of suddenly becoming the father of wealthy heirs estate planning is way more onerous than I thought! rather than simply construct a new rationale to suit my newly discovered self-interest. If I simply declared that my childrens newfound wealth had given me a previously absent sympathy for the economic rights of the very rich, you would rightly question the value of my thinking on anything.
In President Obamas interview explaining his reversal on gay marriage, he cited contact with gay friends, but also wrestled with the competing demands of gay happiness against the prerogative of those wedded to traditional practices. (When I hear from them the pain they feel that somehow they are still considered less than full citizens when it comes to their legal rights then for me, I think it it just has tipped the scales in that direction.)
Portman ought to be able to recognize that, even if he changed his mind on gay marriage owing to personal experience, the logic stands irrespective of it: Support for gay marriage would be right even if he didnt have a gay son. Theres little sign that any such reasoning has crossed his mind.
In a CNN interview, Dana Bash repeatedly prodded Portman to reconcile his previous opposition to gay rights (which extended not only to marriage but also to not getting fired for being gay). He repeatedly confessed that it all came down to his own family: But you know, what happened to me is really personal. I mean, I hadn't thought a lot about this issue. Again, my focus has been on other issues over my public policy career
What would Portman say to gay constituents who may be glad he's changing his position on gay marriage, but also wondering why it took having a gay son to come around to supporting their rights? "Well, I would say that, you know, I've had a change of heart based on a personal experience. That's certainly true," he responded with a shoulder shrug.
But he also repeated a reality. His policy focus has been almost exclusively on economic issues.
"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."
Its pretty simple. Portman went along with his partys opposition to gay marriage because it didnt affect him. He thought about gay rights the way Paul Ryan thinks about health care. And he still obviously thinks about most issues the way Paul Ryan thinks about health care.
That Portman turns out to have a gay son is convenient for the gay-rights cause. But why should any of us come away from his conversion trusting that Portman is thinking on any issue about whats good for all of us, rather than whats good for himself and the people he knows?
Another “Etch-a-Sketch” Republican.
Has he considered the relative importance of his son’s short term “happiness” and his son’s salvation? Perhaps I’m just stuffy, at least by liberal standards, but I would put following God’s word ahead of satisfying carnal desires on my list of priorities. I also suspect those who are tempted toward homosexual attractions are happier if they resist those urges, just as those who are tempted toward adultery are happier if they resist that desire and remain faithful in their marriages.
Where are the principles? When it affects you (and your son), you change your principles? Talk about opportunistic. I have less respect for these slimeball Republicans than those flaming liberals.
It is more loving to tell your child they are wrong than to support their bad choices.
Being pro-life is more important to gays than marriage? Or being pro abortion is?
According to whom? Why?
I’m sure gay groups would say his economic policies are the equivalent of gay bashing, so he should switch all his policies, or he’s just as bad as if he was against gay marriage.
Maybe I was confusing. Gay groups are fervently pro-abortion, and believe someone who is pro-life is just as bad or worse than someone who is against same-sex marriage. I’ve heard them say being pro-life is gay bashing.
Didn’t get the memo huh?
We were told by our fellow ‘conservatives’ that principles do not matter. Well, this is exactly WHY they matter. But that won’t stop many here from voting ‘moderate’ to ‘WIN’.
I’m gonna stick with the Pope on this one.
I don’t know Chait’s work, but he’s 100% right on this one.
If gay marriage is wrong, then it’s wrong regardless of how many gay children Portman has.
If it’s okay because his son is gay, then it was always okay and Portman was opposing it because he thought he could gain political advantage for opposing it.
I really hate politicians like Portman, who feed into the media narrative that Republicans are selfish and only out for themselves. It’s offensive.
This is another shallow politician with no underlying philosophy. If one of my children “came out” I would not change my views on gay marriage.
By the way, it gives me great joy to beat up liberals. I suppose senator portman would support me and hope for my happiness!
Dennis Prager said it best today; You either believe in a principle or you don’t, having a gay son shouldn’t change one’s stance.
Portman is a WISHY WASHY WUSS! !!!!! He DEGRADED himself about his son having IMMORAL SEX???? DISGUSTING!!
I couldn’t agree with Prager more. You don’t change your principles to make your child happy. Portman looks shallow and selfish.
In contrast, Alan Keyes has a lesbian daughter, yet still opposes gay marriage, though of course he loves his daughter. It’s the failure to make such distinctions that’s a wide problem in contemporary society.
AMEN!!!! Does NO ONE think about ETERNITY anymore?????
A dick that will seek to advance law that persecutes those that refuse to support and service homosexual behavior.
Glad to hear he said that. Perhaps someone will listen this time and not make all the excuses they did for why everyone from G. Washington to Reagan was wrong about the whole principle thing because...OBAMA!
And as I said....If Portman’s son was a Kleptomaniac, would Portman want that PESKY COMMANDMENT to go away??? <P.Portman is a HUGE.....H U G E DIsappointment.....thank GOD for Pope Francis!!!