Rob Portman’s Coming Out is A Profile In No Courage

“Look, Rob, you can bring your Black friend, but leave your gay son at home. Got it?”

Big political news.  Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) became the most prominent member of the GOP caucus to come out.  In favor of same-sex marriage, that is.  Portman, who was on Mitt Romney’s short list of possible vice-presidential running mates attributed his change of heart to his son coming out as a gay man.

I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married.

That isn’t how I’ve always felt. As a congressman, and more recently as a senator, I opposed marriage for same-sex couples. Then something happened that led me to think through my position in a much deeper way.

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.

So let’s review: it’s okay to previously be on record as opposing gay rights and same-sex marriage just so long as your positions “evolve” once you learn your son or daughter is one of those people you’ve actively discriminated against.

It has to become personal. Oh, and you have to be a Republican too.

I was blind but now I see. Go forth and sin no more. Hallelujah!

Portman remained a religious-based, anti-equality, bigot throughout his entire career prior to his sonny-boy coming out only to be “transformed” and “evolve” when his previously held beliefs suddenly became personal for him.

Until it did he was fine with discriminating against someone else’s child.

  •     Let the military decide on don’t-ask-don’t-tell
  •     Supports Amendment to prevent same sex marriage
  •     Supports banning homosexuals in the military
  •     YES on banning gay adoptions in DC.
  •     YES on Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage

“Same-sex marriage? Sure I have sex the same way in my marriage.”

As recently as 2011, Portman was a typical Republican homophobe actively opposing same-sex marriage and not apologizing for it.  I’m not nearly as impressed by my home state Senator’s partial-reversal as some folks are. It’s nice. It’s late, but it’s still nice. I’m sure those gays and lesbians Portman happily discriminated against will be glad he’s getting off their backs.

Hooray, and so what if Rob Portman goes forth and sins no more? Just because you got religion doesn’t mean you’re not a sinner anymore.

Everyone was wondering why Romney chose Paul Ryan over Portman as his vice-president when it was obvious Portman could have helped Romney in the critical state of Ohio (you know, that place that when it was declared for Obama and ended Election Night sent Karl Rove into such a frenzy he tried to eat his own foot).

Now we know why. Ryan didn’t have a gay son.

Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce shares my skepticism about Portman’s epiphany.

If Will hadn’t come out, or if he’d been as straight as Nebraska highway, Portman wouldn’t have cared about the sons and daughters and brothers and sisters of all the other Dads who love them and want them to have the same opportunities? It’s not just the implied notion that discrimination is OK unless it inconveniences Sunday dinner with the Portmans. It’s also the relentless banality through which even “decent” Republicans struggle to come to simple humanity. Does any group of people have dark nights of the soul that are so endlessly boring and transparently insincere?

It’s like listening to Kierkegaard sell flatware. I’m glad there’s another vote for marriage equality here. I’m also glad I didn’t have to listen to the full explanation behind it.

Me too and frankly I don’t get why I should give Portman credit for doing what he’s supposed to do.

It’s wonderful and terrific that Rob has decided to stop discriminating against a group of people. But am I supposed to bake him some cookies too?

2 thoughts on “Rob Portman’s Coming Out is A Profile In No Courage

  1. On a large scale a % of black people really are not all that concerned.
    It’sjust more political non-sense,where a vast % of black poor people will get screwed as usual

  2. This is why all Republicans should have to spend a year jobless, poor and homeless, too. Until they experience something in their own little personal bubble, it has no meaning or significance to them. Sad, but true. Empathy is sorely lacking on the right. While it’s nice for Will to have his dad’s support now, it doesn’t make up for all the other gay men and women affected by Portman’s views and votes for all the years before he faced the consequences to his own family.

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