Rob Portman is a Republican US Senator. He was short-listed to be the Vice-Presidential candidate in 2008 and 2012 and is seen as a credible contender for the GOP nomination in 2016. He has held numerous senior executive roles in the US Government and is an influential figure.
He has just become the first Republican US Senator to back same sex marriage. He explains why in his own words:
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.
Love and compassion is far more attractive than bile and hate.
One way to look at it is that gay couples’ desire to marry doesn’t amount to a threat but rather a tribute to marriage, and a potential source of renewed strength for the institution.
I’ve thought a great deal about this issue, and like millions of Americans in recent years, I’ve changed my mind on the question of marriage for same-sex couples. As we strive as a nation to form a more perfect union, I believe all of our sons and daughters ought to have the same opportunity to experience the joy and stability of marriage.
Portman’s change of view is sincere, I have no doubt. There is a wider political aspect to this though. If the Republicans don’t moderate their positions on some of these issues, then they will find it harder and harder to win elections.
In the US, support for same sex marriage is:
- 18 – 29 70%
- 30 – 39 60%
- 40 – 49 55%
- 50 – 64 48%
- 65+ 32%
Now I can near guarantee you that those 70% of under 30s who support same sex marriage will not decrease as they get older. If anything, it will increase. So in just 10 years I expect we’ll see something like:
- 18 – 29 75%
- 30 – 39 70%
- 40 – 49 60%
- 50 – 64 55%
- 65+ 45%