Friday, March 15, 2013

Good Enough For My Son (But Not Yours)

Sen. Rob Portman has come around on same-sex marriage in part due to his son Will coming out as gay, and takes to the Columbus Dispatch to explain his evolution.

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. Jane and I were proud of him for his honesty and courage. We were surprised to learn he is gay but knew he was still the same person he’d always been. The only difference was that now we had a more complete picture of the son we love.

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 wrestled with how to reconcile my Christian faith with my desire for Will to have the same opportunities to pursue happiness and fulfillment as his brother and sister. Ultimately, it came down to the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.

On one hand, Portman's journey echoes that of President Obama's to an extent, and that of millions of Americans who have come to see their LGBTQ neighbors, friends, family members and loved ones as deserving of equality and happiness.  He gets credit for bending Dr. King's "long arc" a fraction closer to where it needs to be for all Americans, and he's in a position to actually do something about it as a United States Senator.

On the other hand, Portman's evolution should have been motivated by the other sons and daughters of his Ohio constituents, and not just his own.  I'll take it, but Portman still has a long way to go to even "moderate" Republican territory based on his dismal voting record.

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