ANOTHER CONSERVATIVE POLITICIAN
SUPPORTS GAY MARRIAGE
It is wonderful that Love opens the door to changing the minds of people who once held firm views of absolute intolerance. Love changes everything — even ideas on what we think God says, commands, and requires. And that is a very, very good thing. If only that love could extend beyond a person’s own family…
The latest high-profile person to demonstrate the power of Love to move people away from intolerance is Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who made a stunning announcement a few days ago that he was reversing his longtime position opposing gay marriage, and was now totally supportive of it.
Mr. Portman is known as a conservative Republican, and when he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives he co-sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act, which became law. The legislation defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.
That was in 1996. But two years ago Senator Portman’s son, Will, told Mr. Portman and his wife, Jane, that he was gay. Mr. Portman said this past week that after thinking about it deeply, he could no longer oppose same-sex marriage. He opposition had its foundation in his Christian faith tradition, the senator said, and he wrestled with that, seeking to reconcile his new view with that of his church. Then he apparently decided to set particular religious beliefs about homosexuality aside. And why? Because of love.
“Ultimately, it came down to the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion, and my belief that we are all children of God,” he said.
Learning that his son was gay allowed him to “think about this issue from a new perspective, and that’s as a dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister have,” Portman is quoted as saying in an interview in The Columbus Dispatch. You can find that news report here. Senator Portman also voted in 1999 against allowing gay couples in Washington, D.C., to adopt children.
The Senator last week went so far as to write and have published an opinion piece in the Dispatch (found here) in which he says that he has “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.”
Admitting that this is not how he has always felt, he explains that “something happened that led me to think through my position in a much deeper way.” That something, of course, was learning of Will Portman’s sexual orientation. The senator said that his son told him that he did not experience homosexuality as a choice, but that it was just part of who he is.
Virtually every gay person in the world has been saying that for hundreds of years — but that has not stopped religious and political conservatives from opposing, if not condemning, homosexuality and gay marriage. Many religious conservatives frequently quote a Bible verse which they claim declares that homosexuality is an “abomination.”
Mr. Portman does not hold this view. Neither does former Vice President Dick Cheney, another staunchly conservative Republican, who also approves of same-gender marriage — and for the same reason as Senator Portman: Mr. Cheney also has a child, in this case a daughter, who is gay, and who is now married to her gay partner of many years.
This brings me to a single question: Might it ever be possible for religious and/or political conservatives to come around to a view that supports, rather than opposes, gay marriage even if those conservatives do not discover they have children who are gay?
The Prime Minister of England, David Cameron, has said that he supports gay marriage precisely because he is a conservative, since conservatives belief in individual freedom above all else. Such a position could only be taken, however, by a government and in a country where religious views of what God wants do not dictate political and legislative agendas.
Will the U.S. ever get to that place? Let that be our question for the day.