Senator Rob Portman of Ohio has flipped on the issue of gay marriage, going from opposing it to embracing it in the pages of the Columbus Dispatch. What turned his head on the issue was the fact that one of his children is gay:
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.
Senator Portman also invoked a Republican icon as justification. “Ronald Reagan said all great change in America begins at the dinner table, and that’s been the case in my family.” He concluded:
I’ve thought a great deal about this issue, and like millions of Americans in recent years, I’ve changed my mind on the question of marriage for same-sex couples. As we strive as a nation to form a more perfect union, I believe all of our sons and daughters ought to have the same opportunity to experience the joy and stability of marriage.
Several years ago I also had a change of heart on this position. I began to wonder why it was, specifically, that I opposed gay marriage in the first place. I came to realize that I was in opposition just because I thought that’s what was expected of conservatives. But upon closer examination, I concluded that placing the government has a barrier to a social contract between two consenting adults isn’t in keeping with limited government values.
How can conservatives and Republicans generally say they’re for limited government when we place a government restriction on something as private and intimate as marriage? If we truly believe in limited government, shouldn’t we admit that questions such as the morality of homosexuality and gay marriage should be settled in our churches and communities and not by the government? Churches, or any other organization, that want to marry gays should be allowed to do so. Churches and organizations that don’t want to marry gays, or recognize gay marriages, shouldn’t have to.
Kudos to Senator Portman for being a leader in the Republican party on this issue. It’s high time Republicans moved out of the woods on this social issue. Not just because it will make conservatism and Republicans more palatable to a wider audience, though it will, but because it’s the right thing to do consistent with the limited government philosophy Republicans are supposed to embrace.