U.S. Senator Rob Portman (shown), one of the sponsors of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, announced March 14 that he has changed his position and now supports the legalization of same-sex marriage. The Ohio Republican told reporters that the change came after his son Will informed him and his wife, Jane, that he is homosexual. Portman's change comes just a week before the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a series of lawsuits filed by pro-homosexual groups to overturn the 1996 DOMA law as unconstitutional.
Portman told reporters that his new-found support for same-sex marriage represents a “change in my position that I have had in Congress and also here in the Senate the last couple of years.” He added that the change “came about through a process” after his son's 2011 revelation. That revelation “allowed me to think about this issue from a new perspective ... as a dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister have.”
In a follow-up personal piece published in the Columbus, Ohio, Dispatch newspaper, Portman wrote: “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 admitted that he had wrestled with how he could reconcile same-sex marriage with his Christian faith, but ultimately “it came down to the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.” He added that “well-intentioned people can disagree on the question of marriage for gay couples, and maintaining religious freedom is as important as pursuing civil marriage rights. For example, I believe that no law should force religious institutions to perform weddings or recognize marriages they don’t approve of.”
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Photo of Sen. Rob Portman: AP Images