Yesterday, Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) pubically declared his support for gay marriage even though the majority of his party opposes it and even though he voted for DOMA in 1996, voted against allowing gay couples to adopt in 1999, and as recently as last year, he voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which would have prevented employers from firing employees based on their sexual orientation. The reason for his 180 degree reversal? He found out two years ago his college-aged son is gay. He said, "“I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this issomething 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.”
For his family's sake I am glad he has had a change of policy position. But I am not ready to jump on the bandwagon to congratulate him for his "brave" move in the face of the political ambitions it may cost him in the future and because his party stands against him. Is it not the mark of civilized society and evolved humanity that one be able to feel and show compassion to those unlike ourselves and who are literally not ourselves? Why does compassion only become activated when it touches directly you and yours? If each one of us and are policy makers had to have personal experience with every permutation of discrimination and personal cruelty and tragedy before we could feel compassion and empathy and evolve, we're in trouble.