Sen. Rob Portman — a close friend of Mitt Romney’s who loudly supported his pal in the 2012 election — has come out quite publicly for gay marriage today and revealed why he was forced to re-examine the contentious issue.
Rob Portman‘s gay marriage reversal was revealed as an exclusive to CNN, and the Ohio senator has opened up about his personal connection to the issue as the GOP is in flux after November’s poll trouncing.
Gay marriage is and remains somewhat of a “wedge issue” and one that politicians can often utilize to rally their respective bases. Last summer, the fast food chain became an unlikely battleground in the fight for marriage equality after founder Dan Cathy admitted opposing it, and supporters flooded the chain’s stores while gay rights advocates boycotted.
Portman’s admission, he says, came of a personal connection to the issue. The Ohio Republican disclosed that his 21-year-old son Will came out as gay two years ago, and that he feels he can’t deny men and women like his son the same right he enjoys as a heterosexual.
Portman told CNN:
“I’m announcing today a change of heart on an issue that a lot of people feel strongly about that has to do with gay couples’ opportunity to marry … 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. That I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is gay.”
Will Portman was a freshman at Yale University when he broke the news to his dad and mom, and Sen. Rob Portman recalls as he announces his gay marriage reversal:
“My son came to Jane, my wife, and I, told us that he was gay, and that it was not a choice, and that it’s just part of who he is, and that’s who he’d been that way for as long as he could remember.”
Portman says that both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were aware of Will’s orientation, but that decision did not affect Romney’s VP choice. The Ohio Republican also sought counsel from fellow Republican Dick Cheney, who has an openly gay daughter.
Until now, Rob Portman has consistently voted against gay marriage initiatives, but he explains that economic issues were always his main focus.