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Well Now That MY Son Is Gay...

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Well Now That MY Son Is Gay...

Postby wack wack » Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:35 am

This is GREAT! A shining example of Republican philosophy in action:

“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,” Portman wrote in an op-ed published Friday in the Columbus Dispatch.

“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," Portman wrote in the op-ed.


Just what is that something that happened? His son came out.

http://nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com/_news/20 ... riage?lite

To summarize the Republican philosophy: if it's about me, it must be. If it's not about me, FUCK YOU.
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Re: Well Now That MY Son Is Gay...

Postby rabble » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:12 am

Agreed, but it's also interesting that the son told the parents about this in 2011.

Granted, a revelation like that takes some people a little longer than others to process. Still I'm curious to hear some of his quotes on gays and gay marriage between 2011 and 2013.

It's not only about whether it affects ME personally. I think it also might be about when's the best political time to make the change.
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Re: Well Now That MY Son Is Gay...

Postby snoqueen » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:21 am

I give him points for changing his mind at all, because in the context of his party that's a sign of failure and/or weakness.
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Re: Well Now That MY Son Is Gay...

Postby jjoyce » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:30 am

This is where I think liberals, particularly those ensconced in an overwhelmingly liberal town like Madison, need to check themselves a bit.

It's now considered politically advantageous to publicly take this position, even for a Republican likely running for president in four years. That's a victory. And don't forget how Obama's public position has "evolved" here. The point is that this is moving in a positive direction, politically.

On a personal level, I can remember hearing a speaker at a rally back in 1990 when gay students wanted the UW to admit its hypocrisy about discrimination against gays when it came to ROTC. He said, "We're all recovering homophobes, just like we're all probably recovering racists."

Portman took a risk here. No, it's not close to the risk that so many other politicians and, well, humans took long before he did. But it's a risk. If liberals want to appear to be, well, human, they'll congratulate him on it and say thanks. If they'd rather appear petty and surly, they'll decry even this positive step.
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Re: Well Now That MY Son Is Gay...

Postby wack wack » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:39 am

Would Portman have changed his mind if his son was not gay?

NO. WAY.
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Re: Well Now That MY Son Is Gay...

Postby TheBookPolice » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:44 am

wack wack wrote:Would Portman have changed his mind if his son was not gay?

NO. WAY.

And that's an indictment of political expediency and the idea of Republican lockstep on equal rights. But this guy, in this situation, for his own reasons -- be they grand or petty, broad or narrow -- came to the right conclusion. He has arrived at a more compassionate way of thinking, regardless of the road he took. Just because it's the way more and more people are thinking doesn't diminish the fact that this guy came to this point having made a reassessment of his thought process.

I'm with Jason and sno. Give the man credit for taking the road less approved by party brass, and arriving somewhere commendable by it.
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Re: Well Now That MY Son Is Gay...

Postby Henry Vilas » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:48 am

Even though he was a Republican, when Lee Sherman Dreyfus was Wisconsin governor he signed into law anti-discrimination legislation that specifically mentioned sexual orientation. I believe that was the first such law in the nation. Today he'd be called a RINO by the conservative wing of his party. Speculation at the time was that Dreyfus had a gay family member.
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Re: Well Now That MY Son Is Gay...

Postby Kenneth Burns » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:50 am

What I take away from this is the power of gays living openly. Portman's shift is evidence that people are more likely to support gay rights if they know gays personally. Coming out of the closet can be difficult, but when LGBT folks make that individual choice, they benefit all gays.
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Re: Well Now That MY Son Is Gay...

Postby Stebben84 » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:56 am

People change their minds about a lot of things for a variety of reasons.
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Re: Well Now That MY Son Is Gay...

Postby kurt_w » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:59 am

Illinois senator Mark Kirk had a stroke last year. Afterwards, he told the Chicago Sun-Times:

“I will look much more carefully at the Illinois Medicaid program to see how my fellow citizens are being cared for who have no income and if they suffer from a stroke [...] So unlike before suffering the stroke, I’m much more focused on Medicaid and what my fellow citizens face.”


We keep seeing this over and over again. It's great that Rob Portman is rethinking his opposition to gay rights now that his son has come out, and it's good that Mark Kirk is now motivated to ensure that Medicaid provides adequate treatment for people who've had a stroke, now that he himself has had a stroke.

But ... what would be even better would be if politicians could learn to generalize a little from these kinds of personal experiences. Or learn from other people's experiences. Or, basically, develop a sense of empathy.

That said, I agree with the general sentiment in this thread. Portman's taken a step in the right direction. That's a good thing. Maybe it will influence some of his colleagues.
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Re: Well Now That MY Son Is Gay...

Postby rabble » Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:05 am

I understand what all of you are saying about how this is a victory no matter how tainted, it's still a risk, it helps the cause, we are making progress, give the guy a break.

Sorry. Not feeling the love. Yes, it's the way things have to be done nowadays. We all know what's right but it has to be done at a glacial pace because, well, that's the way it works.

Changing your tune at a time when the risk is minimal and there's a push in the party to reach out to the minorities you've been demonizing for decades because you need their dirty little votes is not "doing the right thing" in my book. It's the same sort of smarm they've been pushing since forever.

In my opinion he's using his son for political gain. It's a risk but that's politics. He's still using his family as a prop. Ten years ago he'd have let his son hang. Thankfully, now, it's politically expedient to wrap himself in his son's gayness.
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Re: Well Now That MY Son Is Gay...

Postby wack wack » Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:16 am

kurt_w wrote:But ... what would be even better would be if politicians could learn to generalize a little from these kinds of personal experiences. Or learn from other people's experiences. Or, basically, develop a sense of empathy.

That said, I agree with the general sentiment in this thread. Portman's taken a step in the right direction. That's a good thing. Maybe it will influence some of his colleagues.


Thank you, Kurt, for eloquently explaining what I did not.

I agree that Portman deserves congrats and all the props you want to give him. But it's not just about Portman and it's not just about gay rights. This very small pattern of though infects every issue in America. The absurd lack of empathy on the right is damaging to this country and it should not be ignored. It should be pointed to and called out at every opportunity.
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Re: Well Now That MY Son Is Gay...

Postby Michael Patrick » Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:53 am

I'm willing to give him props. There's plenty of people who get rejection instead of acceptance from their families when they come out, even absent the whole politics part. It looks like Portman did the right thing right from the start by showing his son love and acceptance.
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Re: Well Now That MY Son Is Gay...

Postby Kenneth Burns » Fri Mar 15, 2013 12:10 pm

I think it verges on a Nixon in China moment. Aside from Dick Cheney and his now-you-see-it-now-you-don't support for LGBT rights during the 2000 campaign, has a more prominent active GOP pol been so outspoken for teh gays?
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Re: Well Now That MY Son Is Gay...

Postby kurt_w » Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:16 pm

Matthew Yglesias gets this exactly right (underlining mine):

But if Portman can turn around on one issue once he realizes how it touches his family personally, shouldn't he take some time to think about he might feel about other issues that don't happen to touch him personally? Obviously the answers to complicated public policy questions don't just directly fall out of the emotion of compassion. But what Portman is telling here is that on this one issue, his previous position was driven by a lack of compassion and empathy. Once he looked at the issue through his son's eyes, he realized he was wrong. Shouldn't that lead to some broader soul-searching? Is it just a coincidence that his son is gay, and also gay rights is the one issue on which a lack of empathy was leading his astray? That, it seems to me, would be a pretty remarkable coincidence. The great challenge for a Senator isn't to go to Washington and represent the problems of his own family. It's to try to obtain the intellectual and moral perspective necessary to represent the problems of the people who don't have direct access to the corridors of power.

Senators basically never have poor kids. That's something members of congress should think about. Especially members of congress who know personally well that realizing an issue affects their own children changes their thinking.


And Kevin Drum also gets it exactly right, but in a very different way:

I admit that my first reaction to this was disgust [...] Is it too much to ask that they show a little empathy even for people and causes that don't directly affect their own lives?

But first reactions aren't always right. I do wish conservatives could demonstrate a little empathy even for people and causes that don't directly affect their own lives, but it's not as if this is an exclusively conservative thing. It's a human thing. Personal experience always touches us more deeply than facts and figures, and in the case of gay marriage we all knew this was how progress would be made. People would see gay characters on TV and shed a little bit of their discomfort. They'd learn that old friends are gay and decide they wanted to stay friends anyway. They'd learn their children are gay, and decide that they still wanted the best for them, even if that means supporting same-sex marriage.

We all knew this was how it would happen, slowly but steadily. We knew it. And now it's happened to Rob Portman. It's progress. It's human. And I should be less churlish about it.
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