CINCINNATI, OH, March 19, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Ohio's Republican U.S. Senator, Rob Portman, endosed redefining marriage late last week after revealing that his son is homosexual.
The former George W. Bush administration official said he thinks his son, Will, deserves “the joy and stability of marriage that I’ve had for over 26 years…I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is gay.”
Portman said he began rethinking his political position two years ago when Will came out of the closet. He said he and his wife were “proud of him for his honesty and courage” and that the revalation gave them “a more complete picture of the son we love.”
The switch makes Portman the highest-ranking elected Republican to support changing the age-old institution of marriage and set off a firestorm of negative responses from people on both sides of the debate – including, perhaps most importantly, his constituents back home.
Portman's “announcement hasn't exactly been popular with either Ohio party so far,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. “Reports suggest that the calls flooding into his office are 60 percent opposed to the senator's new position.”
Pendra Lee Snyder, the owner of a Christian marketing and publishing company in Ohio and an active in the Value Action Committee in Columbus, is part of that majority.
“The political ramifications will be tremendous and splinter the Republican Party even more,” she told LifeSiteNews.com. “The Portmans, in my opinion, made a grave and harmful error – or a calculated political move.”
She added the senator's decision reflected poor parenting by not warning his son about the health risks of homosexuality – including increased depression, STD rates, alcohol and substance abuse, domestic violence, and a shortened average lifespan. “Unconditional love does not mean agreeing and supporting harmful behavior,” Snyder said.
Perkins agreed, “Our unconditional love for our children should not override the historical and social science evidence which makes abundantly clear what is best for all children and for society – being raised by a married mother and father.”
Portman failed to sway Diane Stover of the Northeast Ohio Values Voters group, who said her group would continue to abide by the GOP platform, which defends marriage. “This is the party platform,” she told an interviewer, opening the text to the appopriate pages. “This is where we go by.”
Portman's family friend Ken Blackwell, the former Ohio Secretary of State and outspoken pro-family leader, said his friend had made the wrong political decision. “One family’s decision should not undercut the states’ rights across this country to determine that marriage is a union between one man and one woman,” he told CNN's Erin Burnett.
Jim DeMint, who recently left the Senate to lead the Heritage Foundation, said the family – and the right to life – are two issues the GOP dare not abandon.
“We cannot hope to limit government if we do not stand up for our core civil society institutions, beginning with marriage,” the Tea Party favorite told the crowd at this year's CPAC. “Marriage is the foundation of America’s cultural stability and economic prosperity, and the courts have no business overruling the people’s democratic decisions in the states…No one is entitled to redefine a foundational institution of civil society that has existed for centuries.”
“We are told that the social issues divide Americans and that we should stop talking about them. We cannot,” he added. “Economic and social conservatism go hand-in-hand.”
He told the conservative crowd, “we must remember that there is a distinction between the Republican Party and the conservative movement.”
Portman once agreed both with the substance of the marriage argument, as well as sparing states an instrusive federal overreach on divisive social issues. In 1996, then-Representative Portman voted for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
While fellow Ohio Seantor Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, welcomed his change in position, Portman has gotten negative feedback from many who support same-sex “marriage.”
“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 didn't have a gay son. There's little sign that any such reasoning has crossed his mind,” liberal writer Jonathan Chait wrote in New York Magazine. “Why should any of us come away from his conversion trusting that Portman is thinking on any issue about what's good for all of us, rather than what's good for himself and the people he knows?”
Noah Berlatsky of The Atlantic wrote, “Portman's op-ed makes him sound like someone who, faced with a moral dilemma, has muddled through as best he can with the least thought and effort possible.” Berlatsky believes, “Rob Portman's intellectual and moral mediocrity points to an amazing strategic victory by the gay rights movement.”
While the media hype a list of 130 “prominent Republicans” who support same-sex “marriage,” the nation's highest-ranking elected Republican shows no signs of changing his position on the issue.
House Speaker John Boehner, who also hails from western Ohio, did not entirely rule out the possibility but told ABC News not to look for a similar shift any time soon. “”I believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” he said. “It's what I grew up with; it's what I believe; it's what my church teaches me. And I can't imagine that position would ever change.”
Up-and-coming Congressman Jason Chaffetz, R-UT, who leans libertarian, agreed, “I just happen to believe in traditional marriage.”