‘Change of Heart’ Fact Or Political Fiction?

It seems as though Ohio’s Republican senator, Rob Portman, has encountered a “change of heart” regarding his negative stance on gay marriage.  News stations and social media are buzzing about Portman’s sudden 180, which he revealed to CNN last week.

During his commencement speech at the University of Michigan in 2011, Portman’s negative feelings regarding gay marriage actually caused an uproar among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LBGTG) students.  So what brought on this sudden acceptance from the famously conservative senator?  The reason he gives is Will, his 21-year-old son, who came out to his parents two years ago.

Sen. Rob Portman and son Will

The senator explained on CNN that his son justified his sexuality by saying that it was not a choice, but a part of who he is as a person.

“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,” said Portman on the matter.

So is Portman’s revelation simply a PR move for his own positive publicity to appeal to the growing LBGTQ crowd?  Or has his son’s homosexuality genuinely altered the way he feels about gay marriage?  Many people are outraged that the senator didn’t seem to get “it” (gay marriage and homosexuality) until it became a personal matter for him.  People are criticizing Portman for not standing in the shoes of other parents and families of gay children all along.  Additionally, if his son came out two years ago, why is Portman only coming to terms with these feelings of acceptance now?

“What happened to me is really personal,” Portman said. “I mean, I hadn’t thought a lot about this issue. Again, my focus has been on other issues over my public policy career.”

Do you think it was a choice made to boost his image as a public figure?  How do you think Portman’s standpoint on gay marriage will affect other Republican political figures, if at all?

CNN Rob Portman

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1 Response to ‘Change of Heart’ Fact Or Political Fiction?

  1. Nicole Lavella says:

    You bring up a really good point I didn’t consider when I initially read this story. It’s sad to think he might take advantage of personal family details to boost his own positive publicity/appeal to the LBGT crowd, but why else would he wait two years to publicly reverse his stance? And if he really did need that long to come to terms with his son’s sexuality, why wouldn’t he just admit that upfront? While I applaud Portman for reversing his stance on gay marriage (a very hard thing to do for a politician, let alone a Conservative one), I think he would’ve benefited from being more transparent about the issue.

    It’ll be interesting to see how far Portman goes in supporting gay marriage. If he does nothing but admit he supports it for personal reasons, then I have a hard time believing his announcement was completely innocent. However, if he takes further strategic steps to show his support (like attend a LGBT rally, continue to answer questions about his reversal, etc.) then I’ll have an easier time believing he’s being genuine.

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