Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Portman in the (gay- marriage) storm

Sen. Rob Portman, a dutifully faithful inhabitant of the Party of No, said "yes" this week and you would have thought that he had just endorsed universal medicaid even for the one percenters.  Instead,  he ended his long opposition to gay marriage, thus becoming the first Republican senator to do so.  Do we need further evidence that Republicans on Capitol Hill have all arrived from the same hatchery?

Portman, an Ohioan,  was clearly influenced to change his mind by the fact that his 21-year-old son Will is gay - a revelation that young Portman advanced to his family a couple of years ago.  But it wasn't until lately that Rob  finally decided that maybe gay marriage isn't such a ghoulish idea after all now that one's sexual preference is shown to be non-partisan and even all in the family.

The response, as you might expect,  has ranged from one end of the political spectrum to the other. Doug Preisse, the gay chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party, told the Columbus Dispatch that he is "pleased and proud" of Portman.  On the other hand,  Speaker John Boehner, who has been in a snit about a lot of things, disagreed with the senator's about-face.

One of the papers that arrives on my breakfast table every morning did see something positive in Portman, declaring in a front-age headline that his new position could mean that  he's a Republican "open to change".  The analysis by Henry Gomez, the Plain Dealer's politics writer, was largely friendly and even noted that Portman was once the reputed trusted economic advisor to George Bush the Second.

As we rummage through the ruins of Bush's economic catastrophy, I doubt that Portman is eager to be reminded of his role.

It is now fair to ask that if the senator's son weren't gay - as are  many sons and daughters  across the land - would he be so willing  to  change his mind?   Let me stretch  my neck way out and say that in this instance, his new form followed function for Portman as a caring father.

And I doubt he will be left  without scars by the social conservatives who control the party at its aorta.  Before his announcement, the senator tweeted back on March 8:  "Today is the last day of National Invasive Species Awareness Week.  It's a great way to focus attention on an important issue for Ohio."

He just did. All the way to his Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill.


Mencken said...

It's said that all politics is local but who knew it could be as specific as one's conscience?

David Hess said...

Portman's "conversion" provides a glint of evidence that, even among a few hard-shelled conservatives, including Dick Cheney, there lurks a faint spark of tolerance for those who live an alternative life.