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Recently, Rob Portman, Senator of Ohio has come out in support for gay marriage.  In Republican circles, this is quite an act of bravery.   Back in the real world however he has another motivation: His own son is gay.   I think it speaks to a certain lack of empathy on the party as a whole.  I've seen it time and time again.  It's great the Senator Portman has come around on this issue but honestly, its reads as a little fucked up to me.  Honestly, is the only way for people like this to oppose discrimination.  Unfortunately, that seems to be the case.

Recently, Rob Portman, Senator of Ohio has come out in support for gay marriage.  In Republican circles, this is quite an act of bravery.   Back in the real world however he has another motivation: His own son is gay.   I think it speaks to a certain lack of empathy on the party as a whole.  I've seen it time and time again.  It's great the Senator Portman has come around on this issue but honestly, its reads as a little fucked up to me.  Honestly, is the only way for people like this to oppose discrimination.  Unfortunately, that seems to be the case.

So how anti-gay did Senator Portman used to be?  Well, just a couple of years ago, Michigan Law students were protesting that this fervently anti-gay Senator was the featured speaker during their graduation.  He co-sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act, voted to ban same-sex couples from adopting, and wanted a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.  Now things seem to have changed for him.  Here's the Senator from his opinion piece in the Columbus Dispatch:

Two years ago, my son Will, then a college freshman, told my wife, Jane, and me that he is gay. He said he’d known for some time, and that his sexual orientation wasn’t something he chose; it was simply a part of who he is.
Um, isn't that what other gay people have been saying since forever?  Oh I see, now that it's someone who you love facing discrimination, all of a sudden your cold-cold heart has melted.  Senator Portman was totally fine trying to enshrine his definition of marriage into the Constitution.  He was fine denying gay families adoption rights.  But now that it's his son that will miss out on those opportunities, well that just can not be.  The Senator continues:
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.
I'm sorry, but it doesn't sound like that much of a different perspective.  So either it was totally OK for people outside of your family to be discriminated against or you never really thought about it before taking all of those votes.  That's somewhere between sad and sickening.  We'll pick up this story from the Huffington Post.
Portman said that his son, who is now a junior at Yale University, inspired him to reassess his position on same-sex unions. The senator also consulted clergy on the matter, as well as friends such as former Vice President Dick Cheney, whose daughter Mary is openly gay. According to Portman, Cheney told the senator to "follow [his] heart" on the matter.
I don't know what's worse, the idea of morality lessons from Dick Cheney or the fact that he's totally right.   Even better, his original intolerance comes from the Bible.  Guess where his new-found tolerance comes from?  That's right, the Bible!  It's almost like you can take any message you want from that book.  But I digress.  This sort of thing always happens.  Sometimes, it's Republican women voting against the Paycheck Fairness Act and sometimes it's this.  As long as pay in Congress was the same between the sexes, who cares about the rest of the population?  And now, gay folks not having the same rights he and his wife have enjoyed is an issue since his son happens to be gay.  Otherwise who cares right?

So what's Senator Portman going to do with his new-found understanding of equity under the law?  Will he become a champion for gay rights or try to use his considerable power as a Senator in Ohio to push back against the same-sex marriage ban in his home state?  That would be a negative, Ghost Rider:

If Ohio voters were to reconsider the gay marriage ban they adopted in 2004, Portman said he might support it, depending on its wording, though he would not be likely to take a leadership role on the issue just as he didn't take a leadership role in 2004. He stressed that he doesn't want to force his views on others.
So if it happens to come up and is worded to his specifications, Senator Portman might support ending the same-sex marriage ban in Ohio.  Wow, what a stand up guy.  So taking a leadership role now is not something to be considered despite the fact that you were the co-sponsor of DOMA.  Where was this benevolent "not forcing your views on others" thing before?  The very least he could do would be to sign the amicus brief signed by dozens of other Republicans (none currently serving BTW) advocating for DOMA's repeal.  But he's not even doing that.  More and more it's looking like he's just advocating for his son to have rights and no one else.   What's the point of this media circus surrounding you if you aren't going to your current power as Senator and increased celebrity to bring about some actual change?

Maybe I shouldn't beat up on the guy too much .  After all, his son being gay led him down the road of tolerance.  It's a good thing that he's evolved on the issue.  He is now the only serving Republican Senator who believes in marriage equality.  And it means a lot that one of the co-sponsors of DOMA is now on the side of the angels.  But this still kinda bothered me.   We should not be satisfied with that the only way for guys like him or Dick Cheney to be against discrimination is having a gay child.  If your new beliefs are even half as strong as your old ones, how about some legislative action to back these new beliefs up, Mr. Portman?

It will be interesting to see if this evolution continues.  Hooray for progress but let's not stop here.

Originally posted to The Non Blogosphere on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 09:05 AM PDT.

Also republished by Kossacks for Marriage Equality and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Considering Rob Portland's name was still being (20+ / 0-)

    circulated strongly as VP nominee as late as last spring, it seems his family story is as my grandpa used to say, "a day late and a dollar short."

  •  Why? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drmah, phonegery, bluezen

    I bet a wedding is in the works.  This cuts the political cost.  Yes! Attending his own son's wedding would have ended his career.  He pulled a Jenna Bush.

  •  Overall, it's (19+ / 0-)

    better than not supporting it.  Yes, it's disgraceful that until it personally affects them they don't give a damn about people or their suffering, but that's part of why they are conservatives.  

    The Freepers are furious.  That is a good thing.

    Justice For Will Will spent his brief, courageous life fighting for the rights we all take for granted. Please share his story to support the fight!

    by KibbutzAmiad on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 09:25:27 AM PDT

    •  The entire syndrome (17+ / 0-)

      of not caring about issues until they impact you personally is disturbing.

      As Matthew Yglesias said over at Slate in "Rob Portman and the Politics of Narcissism"

      The great challenge for a senator isn't to go to Washington and represent the problems of his own family. It's to try to obtain the intellectual and moral perspective necessary to represent the problems of the people who don't have direct access to the corridors of power.

      Jon Husted is a dick.

      by anastasia p on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 12:14:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Loved (6+ / 0-)

        what Rachel Maddow said last night on Bill Maher's show--if only all of the Republicans had poor sons...

      •  It's also very common.... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nance, lulusbackintown, wasatch

        ....and the only way a lot of people will make any progress whatsoever. Abstract arguments do not have any impact except with a few.

        Mary Oliver put it beautifully in her poem "Beyond the Snow Belt,"

        Over the local stations, one by one,
        Announcers list disasters like dark poems
        That always happen in the skull of winter.
        But once again the storm has passed us by:
        Lovely and moderate, the snow lies down
        While shouting children hurry back to play,
        And scarved and smiling citizens once more
        Sweep down their easy paths of pride and welcome.

        And what else might we do? Let us be truthful.
        Two counties north the storm has taken lives.
        Two counties north, to us, is far away, -
        A land of trees, a wing upon a map,
        A wild place never visited, - so we
        Forget with ease each far mortality.

        Peacefully from our frozen yards we watch
        Our children running on the mild white hills.
        This is the landscape that we understand, -
        And till the principle of things takes root,
        How shall examples move us from our calm?
        I do not say that it is not a fault.
        I only say, except as we have loved,
        All news arrives as from a distant land.

        "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

        by sagesource on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 09:11:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Playing Devil's advocate... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...I can't help but note that the path that led Rob Portman to supporting marriage equality is the same path that has led many others to support various gay rights issues.

      This is the reason why coming out is a profound political action as well as being of deep personal significance.  On the personal level, coming out means that we're no longer living a lie.  But on the political level, it's been shown time and time again that people who know that they know someone who is gay are far, far more supportive on our issues than those who don't.  So Rob Portman is apparently fairly typical of human beings in general.

      That doesn't mean that I give Rob Portman a total pass -- after all, leaders are supposed to lead.  But I do give him a partial pass because his conversion is exactly the reason why gay community leaders have been encouraging gay people to come out for decades.  Portman's conversion is a reminder that sometimes the political benefits of one person coming out can be huge.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 12:04:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Personally, I think most of them (8+ / 0-)

    [Republicans] are lying about their own views and religiosity on the matter to get stupid people to vote for them.


    •  Very Interesting Chart (3+ / 0-)

      I feel like I was already good on women issues. I don't have any kids myself. But my brother has this little girl I spend a ton of time with. She just turned four. I am pretty sure I will be better on women issues cause well, I want her to have everything possible.

      When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

      by webranding on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 10:00:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Someone tweeted this yesterday: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      "Eventually one of these Republican congressmen is going to find out his daughter is a woman, and then we're all set."

      "I'm totally pro-choice in the matter of abortion. But of course I'm also so radically pro-life that I think every person from birth onward must have full and affordable access to healthcare." - Gail Collins

      by gritsngumbo on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 09:24:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Pro gay Republicans are those whose (16+ / 0-)

    family members have come out. Anti-gay Republicans are those whose family members are still in the closet (or who are in he closet themselves).

  •  I completely agree with you... (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    webranding, Buckeye54, Nespolo, skrekk, Nance, sfbob

    ...that this brings into sharp focus one of the defining differences between the conservative and progressive world views: empathy.

    In this time of sequestration and grand bargains, lost jobs, stagnant incomes and dimming hopes, the only real deficit that is crippling our country is an empathy deficit.  

    It's not a lack of money that prevents us from taking the actions we know will fix our problems, and make the lives of millions better now and into the future, it is a lack of empathy: simply choosing not to care about the consequences of inaction.

    If Michael Jackson were still alive and writing songs about society's problems, instead of focusing on race, like he did 20 years ago with "Ebony and Ivory," today he would address the gridlock preventing meaningful progress: "Empathy and Apathy"

    "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." ~ Mark Twain

    by wonkydonkey on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 09:51:29 AM PDT

  •  I So Agree With You (5+ / 0-)

    He only seems to care now cause somebody he loves is gay. Before that, not so much. I wonder about that.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 09:56:27 AM PDT

  •  Ye Olde Adage of "you cannot teach an old dog (5+ / 0-)

    gnu tricks" may apply. Or not.

    For myself, I do not think that I will ever be old enough NOT to learn something new. At least I hope not.

    In the case of Portman, his normal learning curve got upset because of the surprising knowledge that sonny boy is gay. Frankly, this revelation might have caused so much cognitive dissonance within his brain, that he still hasn't come to grips with the whole idea. his reaction should be cheered, not jeered.  You have to give him credit for

    a. taking the new information, and acting on it.
    b. acting on it in a positive way.
    c. risking abuse and worse from TeaBuggered Conservative hippos and other critters.
    d. putting family ahead of the corrosive policies of today's GOP.

    It could have been far worse. He could have disowned his son. He could have spewed more offensive TeaBuggered sayings. He could have ignored it, while he hoped it all went away.

    The crazy hatred and blatant ignorance typified by the Inhofes of the whirled is ebbing away, at an ever faster pace. The yute of today, with notable Teabuggered exceptions, sees nothing wrong with same sex relationships or marriages. That would not have been the case 15 years ago.

    Once the  minority assholes who beat bibles, including those who try to beat the "gay" out of their children, realize that theirs is a very small minority, they will lose whatever political power they now hold.

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 09:58:47 AM PDT

  •  Maybe we will luck out (11+ / 0-)

    and he'll have another kid who loses his job and needs unemployment benefits and food assistance.


    I care about the unemployed and the hungry, because Thaddeus or Bartholemew or Binky is unemployed and hungry.

    I am from the Elizabeth Warren and Darcy Burner wing of the Democratic Party

    by LeftHandedMan on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 09:59:07 AM PDT

  •  Yes, it's really too bad Sen. Portman's son didn't (19+ / 0-)

    reveal that he was also a female undocumented migrant farm worker with a learning disability and a pre-existing medical problem.  Maybe the senator could see what the Bible and Dick Cheney say about those issues, too.  

    Metaphors be with you.

    by koosah on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 10:02:19 AM PDT

    •  Somebody Else Here Said It, But Empathy (10+ / 0-)

      is key IMHO. I am not gay. I am not a women. I am not a minority. I am not poor. But I try VERY hard to think what my life would be like if I was. I mean really hard. To me it isn't asking that much for people to try to empathize a little.

      When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

      by webranding on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 10:07:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I tell you what, webranding. I'd kinda like to (8+ / 0-)

        turn the tables and imagine what the life of a well-off white male senator must be like.  Oh, wait...the TV schedule is full of shows showing us what life is like for healthy, popular, young, well-off white males and their cute, thin girlfriends.  We don't have to use our imaginations!


        Yes, empathy is supposed to be one of the traits that differentiates adults from juveniles. The ability to see an "other" and imagine what reality is like for that "other" without the juvenile necessity to internalize the feeling by actually experiencing it oneself.  It's a cognitive developmental benchmark, really.        

        Metaphors be with you.

        by koosah on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 10:20:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh Don't Get Started On "Thin Girlfriends" (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          stormicats, koosah

          I am a fit dude and I tend to like to date fit women. But when I watch TV and see a lot of women that are featured my first thought is "would somebody feed her" :).

          When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

          by webranding on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 10:35:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  It's a warped version (9+ / 0-)

    of situational ethics, isn't it? ...a demonstration that the morally correct thing to do is relative to the situation - except in this case, the motivator appears to be self-interest, not the greater good.  The "tell" that he isn't relying on a core of steady, moral belief is that he prevails upon a religious text to justify both positions.  

    I'm glad that another "influential" person might now speak in support of fairness and equality, but how sad for him that it took personal experience to understand that we all love our sons and want what is fair and equal for them.

    •  Tribe Not Situation. It's His Tribe so Now It's (3+ / 0-)


      The enemy tribes need to be controlled.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 10:17:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Situational Ethics. That Is Exactly What It Is (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ticorules, Calamity Jean

      What if his son was straight?

      I know I am preaching to choir here but who are attracted to on a scale of 1-10 is a 1 for me. I mean I could care less.

      Last I checked you are an adult. I am an adult. Who you want to date or have sex with is your own business. None of mine. To each their own.

      And if you want to get married, more power to you. Go for it!

      When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

      by webranding on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 10:32:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It will be interesting to see (9+ / 0-)

    Whether this eye opening experience for him will lead him to evolve on any other issues. Probably not.

    It is interesting how conservatives seem so unable to apply their "findings" more broadly than their own narrow situation.

    •  PROBABLY NOT - Correct (3+ / 0-)

      Portman's move is cynical, hypocritical and elitist.

      He doesn't give a crap regarding gay rights or other social/economic issues until a member of HIS own family turns out to be gay-- a member of a minority with their rights stomped on.

      THEN he cares.

      What a total load. clownservatives demonstrate again and again they have zero empathy for people outside of their family and class. forget it

      "The 1% don't want SOLUTIONS; they've worked very hard the last four decades to get conditions the way they are now".

      by Superpole on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 12:23:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Now I Will Say This (5+ / 0-)

    years ago a distant family member moved in around the corner from my parents. She and her partner of 30+ years. Now I don't think my parents are against the LGBT community, but I am very sure they have never known an openly gay couple.

    I wasn't so sure how that would work out.

    They are now best friends. Heck last year when my final grandparent passed away we could have gone to a lot of places after the funeral.

    We went to their house, cause as my dad said they have good whiskey :)!

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 10:17:31 AM PDT

  •  So now we know... (8+ / 0-)

    ...why the Romney campaign didn't pick Portman for VP.

    The article I read said that the son came out of the closet in 2011 -- during the run-up to the 2012 presidential campaign.

  •  He's he!! spawn evil nt (0+ / 0-)
  •  The Mystery of the Two-Year Gap (15+ / 0-)

    I'm glad Portman is now on the side of the angels, but I don't buy into this conversion story.

    Gay marriage is now a majority-supported idea in Ohio, and Portman now relies on Ohio voters for his continued employment.

    Before this year, however, he was hitched to the wagon of Shit Romney,and therefore opposed not just gay marriage, but also gays in uniform and protections for gays in the workplace (ENDA). Now that Romney isn't going to be making him Secretary of whatever, he can take whatever positions he wants in order to stay in the Senate from his moderate, pro-gay state.

    But instead of admitting this is a political calculation, he created this hagiographic storyline about his love for his son. Yet nowhere has he explained why that love was so powerful in 2013, but so often set aside in 2011 and 2012, when he was actively and conscientiously working to deprive his beloved son of equal rights. And I simply can't buy it.

    "Speaking for myself only" - Armando

    by JR on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 01:10:58 PM PDT

  •  recall (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in 2010 there wasn't any daylight between Obama and Palin on gay marriage. Progress, slow maybe, but progress is good.

  •  What was he doing to his child the entire time he (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kerplunk, Ticorules

    was going on and on about being against homosexuality?  What angst was his child feeling growing up in that household??  

    What does this say about the character of this man for what he has done, and how he has acted over the years and affected the LGBT community outside his family with his ability to create policies, and ruin lives??  

    Not much in my books....  

    "The sun is shining........"

    by LamontCranston on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 05:12:44 PM PDT

  •  A couple of things: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tobendaro, skrekk, Ticorules, slothlax

    It's a fact that Republicans only have empathy when something directly impacts them. A conservative will lament a co-worker taking off work with the flu, thus increasing his or her own workload. S/he may even believe the co-worker is faking. But only when that same person comes down with the flu him or herself will any understanding or insight occur. Like yourself, it annoys me greatly that people are praising Portman for his sudden epiphany, a realization that should have happened a long time ago and for different reasons.
     Second, "Gay marriage" is a right wing dog whistle, designed to imply "special rights" for gay Americans and as such it is offensive. At least it's offensive to me and as feelings are subjective, it's no use defending the term. Recommended in spite of that objection.

    "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

    by MargaretPOA on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 05:15:19 PM PDT

    •  I work hard myself to avoid the term (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      slothlax, Ticorules

      "Gay Marriage'. We (on the left) have a sad history of letting the Right codify the words we all use, which is unfortunate because language also shapes thought and thus public opinion.
      People who support a woman's right to have an abortion if she needs one STILL call those opposed to that choice "proLife". Despite them not caring very much for any other kind of life except that which has not been born yet. The media calls them "ProLife" as well. It's not said but each time we say and think "ProLife" the opposite exists...Anti-life. Their use of the word paints to opposition as murderers.

      I work hard to say "Marriage Equality".

  •  I'm bothered by the selfishness.. (5+ / 0-)

    First his self-centered world view that lacks empathy for anyone whose life experience deviates from his own. And now he seems  delighted by his own awesomeness and his sense of self-satisfaction.

    I am happy for his kid, tho.

  •  I know folks want to cut him slack (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skrekk, Ticorules, justrock

    That like Pres Obama "he evolved" on this issue.

    His evolution though reeks of opportunism and hypocrisy. Pres Obama, in my view deep in heart of hearts knew DOMA was wrong.

    This guy Portman is just sorry his own son is Gay so he has no choice but to support him.

    Supposing he was veep today would he go against Rmoney vehement anti gay position? I doubt it.

    •  Obama was pro marriage equality (0+ / 0-)

      as a State Senator, I'm pretty sure. I thought I remember seeing a clip when he "came out" during the election last fall.

      When he first ran for President I listened to how he talked about this issue. I don't recall him saying what his deep heartfelt personal views were...i recall him saying stuff like "My view is that as a country the best thing/most fair thing to do is to offer Gay Americans Civil Unions".

      I don't recall, but could be wrong...hearing him say "I believe that marriage should be only between a man an a woman".

      Each time I heard him talk about it--this could be wishful thinking--I heard a subtle dance about what he thought the country was ready for and what was best right now. I didn't hear him talk much about personal convictions.

      Somehow I came out of it sort of knowing that he was pro Marriage Equality inside himself but thought the country was not ready for that. Perhaps from reading both his books and watching him, part of it is that I extrapolated in seeing who he was a person and what he must believe. A political calculation on one hand but also I think he ACTUALLY thought public opinion had not yet tipped toward most people understanding that full marriage equality is the way to go.

      Even if the last is true, because this is a Civil Rights issue what the country is/was ready for should not be the, or surely the only, consideration.

      I think he played it safe on this politically. He might have clarified his views and evolved some but not as much as he tells us. I think he'd been clear he was for full marriage equality well before he came out on it.

      He was well ahead in polls 2008. But our country was in a different place on marriage equality then. I wonder if he'd have lost to McCain if he came out for it back then.

  •  I think that most career politicians (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tobendaro, Ticorules

    don't have very deep convictions about anything, one way or another. They just fake having them out of political necessity or opportunism. You think Palin gives a damn about "freedom" and "values" or that Cheney gave a rat's ass about national security? These people are egomaniacal megalomaniacs with a strong sociopathic streak. They say and do whatever it takes to advance.

    There are a lot of gay republicans who have voted for anti-gay bills, serial adulterers who have destroyed people over affairs, deficit busters who rail against excessive spending, etc. It's all a game to these people. And while I admire and applaud what Portman is doing here, I have zero doubt that he voted for DOMA because he truly feared for gay marriage.

    Politics is a shark tank, and we're the chum.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 05:30:09 PM PDT

  •  Until it happens to me symdrome i will screw over. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy, Ticorules

    everyone else!! Syndrome/ philosophy eerrrr Whatever!!

    America, We blow stuff up!!

    by IndyinDelaware on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 05:43:31 PM PDT

  •  Hypocrisy Is A Requirement To Be A Republican (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy, Ticorules

    Party member.

    I don't trust those who are Republican.

    They have very unstable personalities.

    "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.” - Arnold Schwarzenegger 2003

    by kerplunk on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 05:44:56 PM PDT

  •  I'm torn... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ticorules, jplanner, wasatch

    ...does it pass the hypocrisy smell test? Maybe, maybe not.

    Here is what I fear. We tell our LGBT kin to come out, change hearts, change minds.We ask and we ask for people to reconsider, to change their mind. Then, when they do? We beat them up over it.

    I'm going to err on the side of acceptance and take his change of heart at face value. But we don't have to do that without putting him on notice.

    So... as I commented similarly in another post:

    Dear Senator Portman, from this gay man, thank you for your change of heart and the unconditional support and love of your son. I'll be watching you. My expectation is that when you talk with your colleagues about this issue, you will also work to help change their hearts. Especially if they don't have an openly LGBT person in their lives.

    ...Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall.
    Blog hard, community harder!

    by cooper888 on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 05:50:25 PM PDT

  •  The diary has an interesting perspective. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ticorules, slothlax

    I don't trust him, nor do I like him, nor do I entirely buy the story behind his change of heart, or find his timing to be particularly sincere or heartfelt. It is also a little absurd that he only changes his mind when it affects him personally.

    But if it means one more person either fighting for gay rights, or as is more likely in this case, at least not trying to inhibit them, then I am all for it and I cheer on his change of mind. If it's for political expediency, oh well, it's still good for America.

    Again, doesn't mean we should trust him. He's still a Republican, and his motives are suspect, but I am glad he is coming around on this important issue. The diary brings up the important point that just because he has come around on this, doesn't mean we should start hoisting him up on our shoulders and carrying him through the streets. The best course of action here is to praise the decision in a muted manner and continue to distrust him.

  •  He saw the light, straightened up his act. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ticorules, slothlax, jplanner

    Why make a big deal out of his having held a position he has publicly and humbly jettisoned?  I think he deserves a little bit of credit.

    If he changed his mind because his son came out, well, that's a hell of a lot better than Alan Keyes, who, if you remember, had a gay daughter who came out as a teenager, and who was publicly denounced by her own father.  Should I admire him more for at least being moral consistent?  Personally, I have a dim view of moral consistency when it hurts other people.

    •  I hear you but... (0+ / 0-)

      Sure, he's no Alan Keyes, but that is a low bar to set. I think the point is that this change of position shouldn't give Portman any political points. He came around to the obvious conclusion, he shouldn't get credit for that

      There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

      by slothlax on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 10:36:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Political points is a different thing altogether. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I give him credit for being a better human.

      •  He was not obligated to speak (0+ / 0-)

        He could have simply accepted his son and whenever the next vote presented itself voted his new understanding, or even managed to be out of town and miss the vote.  Instead he made a public statement which got lots of media play and that moves the conversation considerably.  Portman's example no matter how self centered will make it easier for others to accept marriage equality.  Portman was my congressman for a few years.  He never was a fire breather instead while he voted conservatively his focus was always more on the business aspects of government.  Politician similar to Jack Kemp.

  •  If he weren't selfcentered (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ticorules, justrock

    and opportunistic and some variety of clever-stupid, he wouldn't be a Republican.

    There was a time when I thought there were principled conservative Republicans.   I've spent about five years looking for them online, and they don't exist.  There are some principled conservatives, rare and at some level nonsensical, but they're not Republicans if they're honest..  There are principled Republicans, but the principles are at some level not plausible, and they're not conservatives.   Then there are conservative Republicans, but it's not worth your time to try to discern a principled basis to their beliefs.  Portmann is the last kind.

  •  It wasn't an act of bravery - it was an (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ticorules, justrock, sfbob

    act of political calculation.  Bear in mind Portman's backgound.  His mother was on teh local board of Planned Parenthood.  He started out as a centrist Republican and moved right as that seemed the thing to do.  Now he's moving back ther other way thinking now maybe that's the thing to do, and oh by the way his own son is gay so he has good cover.

    Portman is a calcualting oportunist.

  •  Portman hasn't evolved very far given that he's (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ticorules, justrock, sfbob

    unwilling to sign onto the repeal of DOMA, still opposes ENDA, thinks the public should be allowed to vote on whether gays have full civil rights, and thinks that the courts shouldn't be defending the civil rights of gays.

    And his utter lack of empathy until an issue impacts a family member speaks for itself.     I wonder whether his son supports putting his own civil rights up to a popular vote?

  •  Not forcing his views on others...... (4+ / 0-)

    This is what jumped out at me, even more than the other amazing thoughts and ideas written here.

    I thought a conservative was all about less government and rugged individualism, keeping out of others lives.

    Nowadays, being conservative means forcing you will on others when whatever bigotry you are espousing can get you a few more votes.  

    Yes, like others said, we are glad Portman came around, but, look at all the damage he has already done.  Perhaps an assessment of the damage he personally caused while forcing his hatred on others would be in order.

    People could come out and state publicly just how Portman's actions harmed them.  Perhaps these bigots would start to put more thought into their actions.  Well, I can dream, can't I?

  •  Portman bothers me too. (5+ / 0-)

    The part about his not wanting to push his views on others is pure comedy.  I think most thinking people who are given the type of power he has know that on day one.  Which is why he is a so-so senator and not a great one.  What bothers me about him is that he is voting based on how "he feels".  That isn't how you legislate especially when you have such disregard for other people's feelings and lack the will to seek consensus based on facts and opinions outside your own comfort zone.

    I am glad for his son and disappointed in his role as a senator who still lacks the backbone god gave him.

  •  Now he bothers me less. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


  •  So glad to see this diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I was fuming yesterday when reading the NYT article.  Now that Portman's  own son is facing the loss of his civil rights, he is having a change of heart about gay marriage.  Hypocritical POS if you ask me.  

  •  I'm of mixed minds on this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    In his defense, I think it's perfectly normal for someone to hold a particular world view very strongly even if they have not given it much thought.  They hold that belief because that's what they've always been taught.  Sometimes it takes a powerful personal event to really make them reconsider their own beliefs and change their minds.

    An example of this how so many military veterans say that their experience changed their minds about war, and military and foreign policy.  You can see a similar phenomenon when an atheist argues with a theist, and the theist thinks he has trumped the atheist because he can find scripture to back him up.  Then he's utterly shocked when the atheist is not persuaded at all, because the theist has been raised to believe the inerrant truth and absolute authority of The Bible.

    On the other hand, it's Portman's JOB to give issues a lot of consideration, study, and careful thought before writing and passing laws about them.  It's doubly important when it comes to something that could deny a whole group of people of some of their fundamental rights.

    Yes, it's scummy that conservatives do this so often.  On the other hand, Portman has finally gotten to the right place regardless of the journey he needed to take to get there.  Even better, he has said so publicly which will make it a bit easier for the next conservative to come out in support of gay rights.  I truly believe that many of them are supportive, but are too cowardly/selfish to actually say so.

  •  I am so glad to see others feel the same way I do (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    about Portman's 'conversion'   ...

    It was disgusting when the news commentators were treating him like some hero ... EXTREME MATURE MALE BOVINE EXCREMENT!  

    As others in this thread have noted:  for two years, Portman supported and worked to elect politicians that wanted nothing but evil for his son .. who wanted to define his son as less than human ...

    And now, realizing that the arc of history is bending toward justice faster than he thought, he wants to jump on the "I've evolved" bandwagon ... No, he hasn't evolved...
    He is merely a bigot masquerading as a 'loving father' loving father treats his son the way he has the past two years ..

    I know what it means to evolve .. I have undergone a change of heart on many issues, ie, abortion, Catholicism, and marriage equality, although the last one was the easiest to deal with .. I believe Obama when he says he evolved .. Portman didn't evolve .. he advocated harsh treatment of gays even though his own son was one and he knew that .. it wasn't until it didn't matter that he 'evolved' ... well to quote my favorite math teacher:  OH, vomit!

    Give your heart a real workout! Love your enemies!

    by moonbatlulu on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 09:41:38 PM PDT

  •  When I first heard about this I had the same (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    thoughts and refrained from commenting negatively about him.  I think it's the personal advantage part of it that bothers me.  He's willing to support gay marriage as long as it helps his son.  

    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 09:45:01 PM PDT

  •  Just look at special education (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sfbob, Ticorules

    And rights for the disabled. The broad bipartisan support for those issues is based solely on the Republicans who have those issues in their own families uniting with Democrats who support those issues whether they are personally effected or not.

    There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

    by slothlax on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 10:41:38 PM PDT

  •  It's quite simple really. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sfbob, Ticorules

    Portman is a family values guy. But, keep in mind that the Cons speak in euphemisms. "Family values" doesn't mean what it says. "Family" actually refers to a strict hierarchy in which the head of the household, whose word is law, is the model for how all of society is organized -- to put an authority at the top and keep everyone else subservient. Cons do not believe in voluntary association. From their perspective, society is coerced and the top of the hierarchy must be obeyed. The result is the culture of obedience in which obedience takes precedence over what is actually done. What's important is for those who give orders to remain in charge. So, the morality of an act is not defined by the effect on someone or something else (good or bad), but by whether or not it is obedient. If too many acts of disobedience occur, then the simple thing is to change the orders accordingly, so the top guy can continue to be in charge.

    That the morality of an action should be assessed on the basis of results or effects used to be called "situational ethics" and the Cons were strongly against it. That's because they prefer morality to be based on personal responsibility -- i.e. persons responding to the demands of a person in authority. The Cons have no concept of self-direction. I suspect it's because people who act as part of a hierarchy (or group) do so because they have little or no sense of self. They lack the capacity to interrogate themselves and make a decision about the moral value of their acts ahead of time, perhaps because they are not able to correctly anticipate potential consequences. Condi Rice's "nobody could expect" was likely a statement of fact. Binary thinkers exist in an ineffable present. They remember little and anticipate less.

    "Personal responsibility" is the secular version of biblical authority. A real person, presumably directed by God, is substituted for God. Thus, the rule of law goes one step further and removes any one person who can be held to account for the imposition of punishment. Humans get to be in charge without having to be identified. It removes the risk associated with being the responsible person that retribution might be taken by persons who perceive themselves as having been injured by the law, as, under this regimen, they are. Coerced obedience is abusive. So, when the law is used to coerce, it becomes an instrument of abuse, inflicts injury and risks retaliation.

    Cons have reason to be fearful.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 01:55:27 AM PDT

  •  The conservative narrative (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    always seems to start at how personal this "issue" has become to them.

    But not until.

    Pick your issue.

    In a capitalist democracy - every dollar is a "vote" ... spend wisely ...

    by RUNDOWN on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 06:39:38 AM PDT

  •  A Former Vice President disappeared from politics (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sfbob, Ticorules

    ...not long before the internet gaysites went wild with gossip and stories about one of his sons spending the summer in P-town sashaying along the beach in what the gossips called full cruise mode. I don't know if the stories were true, but I read them and heard them repeatedly from friends who had been to those same beaches and had frequented the restaurants and bars on Commercial Street that summer.

    Not that there's anything wrong with that, but Family Values Dad once said being gay was an unacceptable choice.

    Some phobes come around when confronted with an LGBTQ child. I guess others go to ground and prefer not to deal with their own  "family values" dilemma. The worst among them try to hide it or deny it. Thank heaven, I have yet to see any political family disown a gay child.

    Being gay is not a choice. Being a hypocrite is.

  •  Portman needs to go a step further (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    He needs to say clearly why it was a mistake for him to only shift views when he considered his son - AND - he needs to call on all Republicans to think of other families and sons and daughters and brothers and sisters.

    Only then would he have really owned up to this.

  •  Conservatives lack empathy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That's a large part of why they end up as conservatives.

    However, that doesn't mean they are incapable of experiencing the emotion. In this case, as in many others (Dick Cheney being a familiar example), an immediate family member brought his gayness right up close and personal, and Portman succeeded in empathizing with him, and it made him change his mind publicly.

    I doubt it will generalize much to other issues, though.

  •  I feel about Portman as I've felt about Mehlman (0+ / 0-)

    I'm glad he's come around on this issue and if his influence is useful, I'll be happy if he exercises it. Other than that he can go pound sand.

    I'll leave to your collective imaginations how I was originally going to frame that second sentence.

    When it comes down to it, Portman is worse than Ken Mehlman. As much as I still despise the guy, at least Mehlman was willing to accept just a tiny bit of responsibility for the damage he caused.

  •  Cons have no empathy... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Not to put too fine a point on it but you're expecting too much from him and the rest of his party. They are literally incapable of empathy. Having something affect them personally is the only way they can relate to it. This is why they can support shutting down public schools and rolling back the minimum wage because it's not their kids that will be affected by it. It's a requirement of the conservative movement to be unable to relate to others who are different. This is part of what makes this so amusing to me. Even Inhoffe was taken aback when he found out that Portman had changed his mind. Unless it affects them in some way, they can't empathize. Personally, this is why I think the right to vote needs to be taken away from them.

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