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When I heard that Republican Senator Rob Portman had recently changed his position on marriage equality - only after his son came out as gay - I had a visceral reaction: Fuck Rob Portman. But then I thought about it, and now I take it back.

Is it tempting, maybe even justified, to point the finger at Rob Portman? Yes. Damn right. Here's a guy who seemed to have no problem supporting an agenda that discriminates generally, and against LGBT individuals specifically, until someone who was about as close to him as any person could be was effected by that very agenda. Now he wants to change the rules. Bullshit! There's absolutely no genuine empathy there, at least not for the other approximately 11,699,999 LGBT in the United States.

Is that really the point though? No. It's not. The point is that there is now one less very powerful voice supporting discrimination against LGBT, and there is now one more very powerful voice supporting equality for LGBT. And. That. Is. Really. Awesome. Heck, I'm sure I'm going to continue to not like him very much. But that doesn't really matter right now because on the issue of LGBT equality he ended up in the right place.

Truth be told, a lot of progress gets done the same way. Of course I can't prove it, but it's my guess that most of people in this country who now support same-sex marriage didn't really think hard about the issue until they realized that they knew someone who was LGBT and saw how the discrimination affected him or her. That's just how it happens. Would it be better if people were more empathetic to the concerns of all their fellow citizens? Yeah, it would, and I'd like a pony for my next birthday too. Most people just don't think that way.

Should Rob Portman get support from Progressives for his decision to support same-sex marriage? EMPHATICALLY YES. Look at the definition of the word progress:

1. Movement, as toward a goal; advance. 2. Development or growth: students who show progress. 3. Steady improvement, as of a society or civilization: a believer in human progress.
Movement, advance, development, growth, improvement... it's not light switch. We can't just turn progress on and off. It's steady improvement. One step at a time. And we need to encourage people to take those steps for the better. We can't hold their feet to the fire for once holding a contrary position. Because if we create a hostile environment for those who take steps to improve, we're disincentivizing them to change. On the other hand, if we create a receptive environment for those who take steps toward improvement, we're speeding up progress by making it easier for people to change. It's just that simple. You have to fight the temptation to be overly cynical. Give Rob Portman a hug and say thanks, if only for this one step in the right direction.

Maybe, just maybe, he'll be an influential voice for his colleagues.


Originally posted to HawksLoveDoves on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 08:50 AM PDT.

Also republished by Angry Gays and Milk Men And Women.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm just curious why we should support (0+ / 0-)

    this guy on this, while still needing to ostracize Rand Paul for his drone stance (which has been the topic of many, many diaries here . .. )?

    Or is there some critical conceptual difference between the two situations that I am missing??

    •  Well, I can think of a lot of reasons (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      For one thing, the drone issue is a half trumped-up projection that has got the fringe of the left worked up. And it seems to me that Rand Paul is cynically reaching out to that group to create a fiction that he is a potential presidential candidate with broad appeal. He's making other similar moves, while leaving the vast bulk of his sickening policies intact. And some people here are falling for it. Destroying Medicare and Social Security? Whatever. But drones! Drones! It's something far far right and far far left can join hands and sing Kumbaya over.

      Portman is not doing that. Changing his stance on marriage equality doesn't endear him to anyone on the right. Even if he were an obvious frothy-mouthed wingnut — and he's not — this probably killed his chances of being on any presidential ticket. He's not transparently pandering to the disgruntled on the left; he's made his statement for personal reasons. He's not trying to trick the left to join him in some unholy alliance with the far right. He is now dead to the far right.

      Jon Husted is a dick.

      by anastasia p on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 12:28:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I would if, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sfbob, Silvia Nightshade, Bob Love

    He recognized not that its now right to support marriage equality but that it was WRONG to oppose it before.

    He is trying to sell this as a natural acceptable progression of belief to go from your standard A-OK cold-hearted bigot and then through exposure and prayerful reflection come to this final state of mind and that he should be congratulated for it.

    No.  Its not A-OK and he doesn't get an automatic gold star.

    Would we rush to wrap our arms around someone who said "I used to hate ni**ers but now that my son married one, it allowed me to think on it and consult my pastor and now I am ready to accept them."   ....really?  I mean, great... I guess.. but we'd still think the person was a bit of a dick.

    If he showed some regret for his past bigoted beliefs and the damage they helped do to fellow Americans, I would be more likely to see this is such a positive light.

    Instead, I would say your diary title could be rewritten as simply "Rob Portman is a fucking tool. (period)   ....oh, and the gays should use him."

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 09:08:58 AM PDT

    •  So does Bill Clinton get a pass? (0+ / 0-)

      Because, ya know, he did a LOT more damage to LGBT folks.

      •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

        a "LOT" more?  I can only possibly guess you are referring to DOMA and DADT.

        DOMA was a compromise in the early 90's when marriage equality barely had double digit support with the people.  It was a bill aimed to stop the growing effort to start a legitimate Constitutional Amendment process.  ...and it was passed in the Senate with supportive votes of such other notorious progressive traitors as Patrick Leahy,  Barbara Mikulski, Harry Reid and none other but the clearest DINO of them all: Paul Wellstone!!!

        And DADT was a step forward from the outright ban and court-marshalling anyone would face if it could be proven they were gay.  Clinton campaigned on this and said in his administration all Americans would be allowed to serve in the military, but DADT came as a Congressional compromise when Sam Nunn led the crusade from the right to prevent heterosexuals from "feeling like they were being watched in the shower".  That was the go-to talking point for the bigots back then.  What came out of congress was DADT... its not what Clinton proposed, its the bill he got.

        This was after Boxer's Senate attempt to repeal the ban (even with Barry Goldwater's PR assistance) failed and Barney Frank's House attempt failed... oh, AND the Joint Chiefs of Staff made it public that the military opposed any modification of the ban.  When THAT happened the GOP started rushing through a law to lock in the "military policy" of banning homosexuals into a codified federal statute and appeared to have the support to pass it.  The compromise was DADT and even BARNEY FUCKING FRANK voted for it....  ....and Clinton signed it.

        What is possible now in 2013 was not possible in 1992.  BUT.. that doesn't mean that the people on our side like Clinton, Frank, Wellstone, etc used to think marginalizing people based on sexual orientation was the right thing to do and only changed their mind when something personal happened to them.

        Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

        by Wisper on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 11:37:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, please. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tennessee Dave

          I was around in 1992, thank you very much.  All of them--even Wellstone--betrayed LGBT people.

          You speak of DADT as if it were a great step forward.  More LGBT people were discharged after its passage, until the Afghanistan War under George W. Bush, than had been discharged before.  Not less.  It was a debacle and a disaster.

          I'm sorry, but none of those Democrats get a "pass" from me.  Ever.  Period, end of story.

          And particularly Bill Clinton, who was not forced to sign either of those into law.  He always had the option to veto them, which, importantly, would have made Congressional members rethink their positions.  He was just far too cowardly to do so.

    •  My response is to give him credit (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      for this but not make a hero of him. And I'm part of a group that was scheduled to go lobby his office this week on LGBT job and housing protection. So that will be interesting.

      Jon Husted is a dick.

      by anastasia p on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 12:29:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I see Bojo in your future (0+ / 0-)

    if you don't change the title.

    Gay tool
    Needs to go.

    I'll remove upon compliance.

    "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 09:22:01 AM PDT

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