Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, reversed his position against gay marriage and said he now supports it because his son is gay.
Portman, a party leader on economic issues who was considered a top candidate to be Mitt Romney’s running mate, said in an op-ed he has “thought a great deal about this issue” since 2011 when his son Will, then a college freshman, told him and his wife he is gay.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I’ve had for over 26 years — that I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is gay,” Portman said in an interview with CNN.
Portman, who has repeatedly voted against gay marriage, told CNN he decided to announce his support now because he recently became comfortable with his new stance, and because the Supreme Court is considering two gay marriage cases that he would probably be asked about.
Conservatives should support gay marriage because it is a matter of individual liberty, he wrote in the Columbus Dispatch:
“We conservatives believe in personal liberty and minimal government interference in people’s lives. We also consider the family unit to be the fundamental building block of society. We should encourage people to make long-term commitments to each other and build families, so as to foster strong, stable communities and promote personal responsibility.”
Portman said he told Romney about Will’s sexuality while being vetted to be Romney’s vice president. The campaign told Portman his son’s sexuality did not eliminate him from the VP pool, he told CNN.
Portman said he consulted former Vice President Dick Cheney, whose daughter is gay, when considering his position.
“I followed his advice,” Portman said. “You know, I followed my heart.”
Portman’s son tweeted this morning about his dad’s announcement:
Especially proud of my dad today dispatch.com/content/storie…
— Will Portman (@wdportman) March 15, 2013