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Not a threat but rather a tribute to marriage
March 15, 2013 1:01 PM   Subscribe

Conservative Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) came out in favor of marriage equality today, in an interview on CNN and an Op-Ed in the Columbus Dispatch. This reversal comes via Portman's son, who came out as a gay man to his parents two years ago. Reaction has been mixed.
posted by Navelgazer (261 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Freedom hating conservatives only change their mind when it gets to be personal for them.

I'd like to welcome him to the party. He's late.

also, fuck him. Does the world end at his nose ? Christ what an asshole.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:04 PM on March 15, 2013 [68 favorites]


Doing the right thing for the wrong reason is still doing the right thing.
posted by kafziel at 1:04 PM on March 15, 2013 [36 favorites]


Doing the right thing for the wrong reason is still doing the right thing.

True. And yet it shouldn't shield you from criticism that you did it for the wrong reason. I sure hope that Portman senior has gotten an earful from junior.
posted by rtha at 1:08 PM on March 15, 2013 [16 favorites]


If you can't be empathetic without something directly affecting you, then you aren't fucking empathetic. Just selfish and sorry.

Right move. Wrong reason. Absolutely deserves the criticism.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:08 PM on March 15, 2013 [44 favorites]


I'm curious about the two year reaction time. That's some slow activating personal bias.
posted by srboisvert at 1:09 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Freedom hating conservatives only change their mind when it gets to be personal for them.

If you can't be empathetic without something directly affecting you, then you aren't fucking empathetic. Just selfish and sorry.

The modern GOP in a nutshell. This is of a feather to their calls to gutreform "entitlements," but not for current old people or corporations, just the young and poor and sick.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:11 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Those comments on the op-ed page are super cool, I'm going to build a doomsday device now bye
posted by hellojed at 1:11 PM on March 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Doing the right thing for the wrong reason is still doing the right thing.

Sure, but if you want to make amends you have to do more than just say the right words, you need to lead and take serious political action. One might ask Senator Portman if will in the future endorse a presidential candidate who does not support gay marriage, for example.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:14 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


"The personal is political."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:15 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's some slow activating personal bias.

It might have taken him that long to finally grok that his son's gayness wasn't "just a phase", or any one of the other excuses that people commonly use to discount the sexual orientation of family members who come out.

Based on some of my friends' experiences, 2 years seems about average for deeply conservative people to come around and accept that the gay thing isn't going away, maybe even a bit faster than some.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:15 PM on March 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


And Charlie Pierce knocks it out of the park, per usual:
If Will hadn't come out, or if he'd been as straight as Nebraska highway, Portman wouldn't have cared about the sons and daughters and brothers and sisters of all the other Dads who love them and want them to have the same opportunities? It's not just the implied notion that discrimination is OK unless it inconveniences Sunday dinner with the Portmans. It's also the relentless banality through which even "decent" Republicans struggle to come to simple humanity. Does any group of people have dark nights of the soul that are so endlessly boring and transparently insincere? It's like listening to Kierkegaard sell flatware. I'm glad there's another vote for marriage equality here. I'm also glad I didn't have to listen to the full explanation behind it.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:15 PM on March 15, 2013 [90 favorites]


This is absolutely brutal and totally hilarious.

Hero Sen. Rob Portman Courageously Endorses Equal Rights For His Family Members
posted by andoatnp at 1:15 PM on March 15, 2013 [37 favorites]


It might have taken him that long to finally grok that his son's gayness wasn't "just a phase", or any one of the other excuses that people commonly use to discount the sexual orientation of family members who come out.

Based on some of my friends' experiences, 2 years seems about average for deeply conservative people to come around and accept that the gay thing isn't going away, maybe even a bit faster than some.


Yeah, or maybe he was trying to be VP.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:15 PM on March 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm glad he came around.

That said, I still think this sums up my reaction:
many people's minds are changed about gay marriage by personal connections = many people are too dumb to imagine a human they can't see
posted by Greg Nog at 1:17 PM on March 15, 2013 [42 favorites]


If Portman believes what the Romney campaign told him -- that his gay son had "nothing" to do with why he wasn't picked for VP -- he's even more deluded than the average folks in his party.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:18 PM on March 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


Among G.O.P. Voters, Little Support for Same-Sex Marriage
The decision by the Senator Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, to announce his support for same-sex marriage may come to be seen as a watershed moment for gay rights advocates. Mr. Portman’s announcement, which he said he made in part because his son is gay, has so far yielded relatively little pushback from Republicans on blogs and social media, or from other Republican office-holders. Instead, gay rights advocates are increasingly finding support from influential Republicans.

But the rank and file of the Republican Party may be different, and the polling suggests that they have largely not changed their views on same-sex marriage.

According to Pew Research polls conducted each year, support for same-sex marriage has increased to 62 percent from 43 percent among Democrats since 2001. Among independent voters, support has risen to 52 percent from 43 percent over the same period. However, only 25 percent of Republican voters supported same-sex marriage in Pew’s poll last year, barely changed from 21 percent in 2001.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:18 PM on March 15, 2013


I look forward to seeing Portman become a vocal supporter of any equal rights legislation that comes through the Senate.

...oh, what's that? He's only willing to be publicly supportive of a bill reversing a gay marriage ban in his home state if it's worded a certain way? He has no plans to introduce any legislation in the Senate to reverse his previous votes against equal rights?

Fuck that guy.
posted by palomar at 1:19 PM on March 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


It's kinda surprising to me that conservatives wouldn't want same-sex couples in stable, committed relationships. Being against same-sex marriage either means that you'd prefer that they continue engaging in extramarital sex in non-committed relationships, or that maybe they're still holding out hope for a return of the days when homosexuality was classified as mental illness. Are conservatives really holding out hope that they can round up homosexuals and put them in institutions (or give them the Turing treatment)?
posted by mullingitover at 1:20 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now All We Need is 59 More Gay Republican Kids (self-link)
posted by Legomancer at 1:20 PM on March 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


I look forward to the new GOP t-shirts:

"'Fuck you, I've got mine' -- not just for the economy anymore."
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:20 PM on March 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Dumb people exist, and will continue existing in perpetuity. I would rather have them take the civil position for bad reasons than take the horrible position for worse ones.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:20 PM on March 15, 2013 [16 favorites]


I had mixed feelings about this too. My friend on FB made this comment which I loved:

"Reminded me of Nancy "Stem Cells Are Microscopic Babies--Oh, Wait--They Might Cure My Alzheimer's Having Husband?--Never Mind" Reagan."

I applaud his move (not that he'd give a shit) but I wonder how many lives he's negatively affected in his soul searching.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:21 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


And Charlie Pierce knocks it out of the park, per usual:

If Will hadn't come out, or if he'd been as straight as Nebraska highway, Portman wouldn't have cared about the sons and daughters and brothers and sisters of all the other Dads who love them and want them to have the same opportunities? It's not just the implied notion that discrimination is OK unless it inconveniences Sunday dinner with the Portmans. It's also the relentless banality through which even "decent" Republicans struggle to come to simple humanity. Does any group of people have dark nights of the soul that are so endlessly boring and transparently insincere? It's like listening to Kierkegaard sell flatware. I'm glad there's another vote for marriage equality here. I'm also glad I didn't have to listen to the full explanation behind it.


I know. Let's mock people who come out publicly, for whatever reason, in favour of gay marriage. That way when other assholes see people who come out in favour of gay marriage becoming pariahs of the left and the right they'll be entirely discouraged. Way to knock it out of the park.
posted by Talez at 1:21 PM on March 15, 2013 [33 favorites]


For some not-mixed reaction, check out what some of his fellow conservatives at CPAC had to say. And if you want to see and hear their reaction, here's a video.

“Well what did Sen. Portman expect when he sent his son to Yale?”
posted by tractorfeed at 1:22 PM on March 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


If he'd once, as a co-sponsor of DOMA, apologized to the people whose partners had died without getting full recognition of their relationship, I'd be a lot more sympathetic.

(And yes, I feel the same way about Bill Clinton.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:23 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Don't Give Rob Portman a Free Pass
Rob Portman is a good father for changing his view on this issue so that he may support the rights of his son. But the fact that he was only able to feel empathy for the plight of gay people in this country -- a plight that he for decades actively contributed to based on his voting record -- only after the issue directly affected him, is definitive proof that he is an unfit politician.

Senator Portman wants to make this country a better place for his college-aged son, but as recently as 2011, he wasn't moved to reconsider his views when hundreds of students at the University of Michigan actively protested his commencement speech because of his long history of opposing gay marriage.

As a high-serving member in a representative democracy, Mr. Portman shouldn't have to be personally inspired in order to see an issue from a perspective other than his own.

... "We conservatives believe in personal liberty and minimal government interference in people's lives," Portman wrote in his opinion piece.

That's a very interesting statement from a man with a vehement anti-abortion record and who has a strong anti-civil rights voting record (as dictated by the ACLU).

Are both these things grounded in Portman's inability to view issues from a broader perspective?

It's a troubling thought, especially considering his respected stature in Congress.

Would he be against the Affordable Care Act if a close friend or family member had lost their life savings attempting to pay for cancer treatment?

Would he have been in favor of invading Iraq in 2002 and then opposed a timetable for troop withdrawal in 2010 if one of his sons was on the front lines?

My challenge to Senator Portman is this: Sit down a truly evaluate every belief you hold and determine why you hold is because your decisions are much bigger than you.
posted by ericb at 1:24 PM on March 15, 2013 [21 favorites]


If you can't be empathetic without something directly affecting you, then you aren't fucking empathetic. Just selfish and sorry.

Well considering that some people react to their kids' being gay by disowning them and continuing to be bigots, I think he deserves a little credit, n'est-ce pas?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:26 PM on March 15, 2013 [30 favorites]


In related news: Dad's Note To Gay Son About Coming Out Might Make You Cry
FCKH8.com, an equal rights organization, first posted the touching letter to Facebook on Friday morning. In the note, the father explains he overheard his son, Nate, talking on the phone about coming out. But the father tells him there is no need -- he already knew, and he never cared.
posted by ericb at 1:27 PM on March 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Everybody perceives the world from themselves outwards. It's just that with some people, it's more immediately obvious.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 1:27 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


This gives weight to the idea that the more familiarity we have with 'the other', the easier it is to accept, embrace and love them.
posted by SLC Mom at 1:27 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's kinda surprising to me that conservatives wouldn't want same-sex couples in stable, committed relationships.

The conservative case for same-sex marriage has been around a while now, and while people worry about how Republican voters respond to this, I still find it encouraging that most Americans, overall, support it. Be great to see more conservatives get on board, but you can't have it all.

Let's mock people who come out publicly, for whatever reason, in favour of gay marriage. That way when other assholes see people who come out in favour of gay marriage becoming pariahs of the left and the right they'll be entirely discouraged. Way to knock it out of the park.

I think the criticism is entirely valid. The argument being made is this was no Road To Damascus moment for the Senator; it was a changing of positions based on something that happened within his own family. He's doing the right thing, yes, and deserves praise for that, but by criticising how he got there, we also underline why this right is important to us all - because it matters to us all, even if it doesn't affect us directly.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:28 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, at least he didn't antagonize and disown his son, which a lot of parents do.

You beat me to it, shakespeherian!!
posted by Melismata at 1:28 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


James Inhofe, GOP Senator, Stunned At CPAC Over Learning Of Rob Portman's Gay Marriage Support.
posted by ericb at 1:29 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now All We Need is 59 More Gay Republican Kids (self-link)

Good stuff.

Will Senator Portman be able to examine this feeling and logically extend it? “What if my son were poor? What if he were in need of basic healthcare? What if he were a woman?”
posted by Drinky Die at 1:30 PM on March 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Hey, he also has a daughter. I hope that means he will reverse his position on choice, health care and pay equity.
posted by munchingzombie at 1:30 PM on March 15, 2013 [41 favorites]


Ten or fifteen years ago he'd have disowned his kid and kicked him out on the streets. So, although I get the eyerolling, I'm ok with letting it go.

Actually!

Actually we may be looking at it wrong. Strong ethical principles that rest on outside authority and are interpreted through a long history of learned debate are how we got into this mess in the first place. Portman, when he reached this conclusion, started from a position of caring. Limited to his son, to be sure, but he made a couple important steps. First, he didn't reject his love for his son because external authority demanded that he do so. He still cared for his son and wanted him to be happy and fulfilled. Second, even though - just like the rest of us - he can't really care in the same way for all humans, he recognized that him and his family are more similar than different to other families.

Yeah.

Now that I've thought about it some, I understand the criticism, but I think it's probably more important to focus on the essential goodness of the force that drove the change.
posted by kavasa at 1:31 PM on March 15, 2013 [16 favorites]


Reason: When Sen. Rob Portman Flips, Gay Marriage is Over as a Political Issue
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:31 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know. Let's mock people who come out publicly, for whatever reason, in favour of gay marriage. That way when other assholes see people who come out in favour of gay marriage becoming pariahs of the left and the right they'll be entirely discouraged. Way to knock it out of the park.

He deserves the criticism. So does every other near-sighted, Bible-thumping, rights-attenuating, Boys-club-attending, narrow-minded, fear-based, compassionate-my-ass conservative.

He's lucky his son came out to him and didn't commit suicide.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:32 PM on March 15, 2013 [26 favorites]


“Well what did Sen. Portman expect when he sent his son to Yale?”

What a gang of philistines.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:32 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Reminds me of "The Only Moral Abortion Is My Abortion" -- conservatives who get abortions just know they're different than those liberal sluts, so it's okay for them to get one.

Likewise, as soon as this guy actually knows someone who's gay, he changes his mind, because now his repressive policies directly hurt someone he cares about.

Dude, you were supposed to care about all your constituents. Two years ago, too.
posted by Malor at 1:34 PM on March 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


I think the outraged responses are a bunch of liberal hypocrisy. Let's have some of the kill-the-1% crowd become billionaires and watch how they suddenly sprout empathy for the other side of story.

All humans have blind spots, and the self-satisfied "Gosh aren't we totally enlightened about everything" shtick from the left is no less delusional than the "We know the way the world should work" shtick from the right.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:34 PM on March 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


I find this reaction a bit overblown. Every single anti-gay marriage politician out there is failing the empathy test right now, and yet somehow this guy is worse than them? Sure, it would have been nice if it hadn't taken having his own son come out for him to see the light, but that hardly makes him uniquely morally blind. And there are plenty of anti-gay bigots out there who don't see the light even when a close family member comes out to them. I find the charges of hypocrisy weirdest of all--it's not like he is saying that his son should be allowed to marry but no one else should be. He's hardly the first person in the world who didn't have the scales fall from his eyes until he had some personal experience of the subject.
posted by yoink at 1:34 PM on March 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


I sure am glad that Bill Clinton who signed the Defense of Marriage Act back in 1996 has finally come around on this issue as well. It only took him 17 years to change his position. Not bad for a supposed liberal.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 1:34 PM on March 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


It's easier to convince yourself you're doing what's best for people who don't know any better when you don't have to look them in the eye.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:35 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


People who call everyone who disagrees with them "stupid", chastise politicians about limited empathy. Eh...

I'm not really sure what you want. My feeling is this artificial requirement for conservatives to come to us liberals on hands & knees begging forgiveness is driven more by a desire for retribution than actually solving the problem at hand.
posted by smidgen at 1:36 PM on March 15, 2013 [21 favorites]


I'm sure am glad that Bill Clinton who signed the Defense of Marriage Act back in 1996 has finally come around on this issue as well. It only took him 17 years to change his position. Not bad for a supposed liberal.

President Obama had to evolve away from his more bigoted point of view on gay marriage as well. He deserved all the shit he got for being against it and none of the passes he got from the left.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:37 PM on March 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


I find this reaction a bit overblown. Every single anti-gay marriage politician out there is failing the empathy test right now, and yet somehow this guy is worse than them?

Not worse, just no better.
posted by octothorpe at 1:38 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I find this reaction a bit overblown. Every single anti-gay marriage politician out there is failing the empathy test right now, and yet somehow this guy is worse than them?

Oh hey, I missed the post that says that. Could you quote it for me?
posted by Drinky Die at 1:38 PM on March 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


I wanted to like the fact that another high-profile Republican would come around to recognizing our rights, but Senator Portman has a history of voting to take our rights away:
Rob Portman on Civil Rights

Voted YES on Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage. (Sep 2004)
...
Voted YES on banning gay adoptions in DC. (Jul 1999)
...
Rated 7% by the ACLU, indicating an anti-civil rights voting record. (Dec 2002)
Supports Amendment to prevent same sex marriage. (Aug 2010)
His support for taking away our rights was expressed only two-and-half years ago. This is no moderate Senator. Just another right-wing asshole who supports the idea of recognizing people's rights when it affects him personally.

Not to change the subject, but looking at his voting record on reproductive rights, one can only hope he has a daughter who doesn't use birth control and suddenly needs choices available to her.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:39 PM on March 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think the criticism is entirely valid. The argument being made is this was no Road To Damascus moment for the Senator; it was a changing of positions based on something that happened within his own family. He's doing the right thing, yes, and deserves praise for that, but by criticising how he got there, we also underline why this right is important to us all - because it matters to us all, even if it doesn't affect us directly.

This right here is why US liberals always lose. Because even if you do the right thing you can do it the wrong way. Nobody wants to be on a liberal's side because they'll find a way to be an asshole to you about how you're on their side. Be a little pragmatic and welcome them to the god damn team instead of turning on them for coming to the right conclusion the "wrong" way.

In America you're twice as likely to approve of gay marriage if you're close to or related to someone who's gay. That's just the way it is. People have innately selfish traits about them at times. Attitudes like these are just shitting on the people who's support you need to drive social change.
posted by Talez at 1:39 PM on March 15, 2013 [32 favorites]


This is practically a meme: conservative is affected by social problem government can address and switches sides. The thing it illustrates is the utter lack of empathy or imagination these clowns have and the selfish way they look at life. They like to snidely say that conservatives are liberals who have been mugged. The truth is that conservatives are potential liberals who haven't had bad luck yet.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:39 PM on March 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


The argument being made is this was no Road To Damascus moment for the Senator; it was a changing of positions based on something that happened within his own family.

But that is exactly a "Road to Damascus" moment. Paul didn't become a Christian because he sat down and figured out dispassionately and fairly that it was obviously the Right Thing to Do. He was merrily riding off to persecute Christians and God spoke to him directly from Heaven asking why he was persecuting Him.
posted by yoink at 1:41 PM on March 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


When Sen. Rob Portman Flips, Gay Marriage is Over as a Political Issue


As a political wedge issue, I agree. As an issue that still affects the lives of millions of men, women, and children, and which, in its previous life as an effective rallying-point-for-values-voters, was a way of building hurdles to prevent people from getting equal treatment under the law -- hurdles put in place just to stop or slow down real change in public opinion turned the way that it has in the last two decades -- it is far from over.

Which is why Rob Portman the father gets a pass from me. But Rob Portman the Congressman-turned-Senator doesn't until I have far more proof that he's going to get to the front of the movement and not pull a "less bigoted than my good friends" like Cheney.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:41 PM on March 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


This right here is why US liberals always lose.

Not to get too cocky, but I'm not sure this word means what you think it does.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:42 PM on March 15, 2013 [20 favorites]


Among independent voters, support has risen to 52 percent from 43 percent over the same period. However, only 25 percent of Republican voters supported same-sex marriage in Pew’s poll last year, barely changed from 21 percent in 2001.

Holy fucking stupid misreadings of statistics, Batman!

Independents went from 43 to 52 percent -- an increase of 20.9 percent (the increase of nine is 20.9 percent of 43).

Republicans went from 21 to 25 percent -- an increase of 19 percent (the increase of 4 is 19 percent of 25).

20.9 vs. 19 is really close. Republicans' views on gay issues frustrate me to no end, but let's at least be objective when it comes to statistics.
posted by flarbuse at 1:42 PM on March 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


One man, David Kern, even said Portman’s son’s choice of college turned him gay. “Well what did Sen. Portman expect when he sent his son to Yale?”

Is he calling Dubya a fag?
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 1:43 PM on March 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Let's have some of the kill-the-1% crowd become billionaires and watch how they suddenly sprout empathy for the other side of story.

*cough*Warren Buffet*cough*
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:44 PM on March 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


This right here is why US liberals always lose.

The President is a liberal who just got re-elected after changing his position on gay marriage.

Nobody wants to be on a liberal's side because they'll find a way to be an asshole to you about how you're on their side.

Portman's announcement does not put him on "our side" any more than Dick Cheney's position put him on our side. If Portman is offended that people don't like his previous bigoted attempts to legally repress homosexuals so much that he changes his mind back despite his son, fuck him. We don't need him anyway.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:45 PM on March 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Not worse, just no better.

Huh. "No better." So if you held the wrong opinion on anything once then there is just no hope for you. You are a bad person until the end of time. Gosh, it must be so nice for all you people who always thought the right things from the moment you were born and have never had to struggle with any of your beliefs ever.
posted by yoink at 1:45 PM on March 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Worth noting: I doubt I'm alone in feeling critical only because he's in a position of real political power.

When my grandparents switched from "NO GAYS IN OUR FAMILY" to "OKAY FINE BUT LET'S KEEP IT QUIET" to "OH SWEET THIS MEANS MORE GRANDKIDS? YEAH, BE AS GAY AS YOU WANNA BE", I was supportive and friendly and loving to them, each step of the way.

And there is not a doubt in my mind that I am going to believe some pernicious retrograde shit when I'm old -- probably the same pernicious retrograde shit I believe now, only hopefully sufficiently denaturalized that I'm led to believe I was being a rotter this whole time.

I hope that in that case, my grandkids are patient and loving and aren't condescending to me. I hope they say, it's okay, grandpa, we know you grew up in the 20th century and we're glad you're finally joining us in the year 17.4 of Our Galactic Insect Overlord. And oh, we'll all have a nice cup of tea!

BUT

If I help pass laws that reinforce my pernicious retrograde beliefs, I think it's fair to expect people affected by those beliefs to be angry at me. In that event, I'm just gonna be like, yeah, sorry, I was a real shit. Look, I even suspected I might be, I posted that comment on mefi back in Year 48 Before The Arrival Of Our Galactic Insect Overlord. And they'll be like, "That's NO EXCUSE" and I'll be like, "yeah, that's fair."
posted by Greg Nog at 1:46 PM on March 15, 2013 [57 favorites]


Independents went from 43 to 52 percent -- an increase of 20.9 percent (the increase of nine is 20.9 percent of 43).

Republicans went from 21 to 25 percent -- an increase of 19 percent (the increase of 4 is 19 percent of 25).

20.9 vs. 19 is really close. Republicans' views on gay issues frustrate me to no end, but let's at least be objective when it comes to statistics.


Um, relative changes are not relevant to public policy support, only absolute changes. Unless you think a subgroup going from 0.01% to 0.02% support is as good as a subgroup going from 40% to 80%.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:46 PM on March 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


mullingitover: It's kinda surprising to me that conservatives wouldn't want same-sex couples in stable, committed relationships. Being against same-sex marriage either means that you'd prefer that they continue engaging in extramarital sex in non-committed relationships, or that maybe they're still holding out hope for a return of the days when homosexuality was classified as mental illness. Are conservatives really holding out hope that they can round up homosexuals and put them in institutions (or give them the Turing treatment)?

I suspect they just think people will stop doing X if they don't endorse it, where X=whatever they disapprove of.

See also: abortion, being poor and needing social assistance.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:46 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sure, his reasons were laughably self-centered, but he was against gay marriage and now he's for it. We need people to make that progression, right? I just don't see much use in wailing on him for it.
posted by brundlefly at 1:46 PM on March 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


In America you're twice as likely to approve of gay marriage if you're close to or related to someone who's gay.

Really? Source?
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 1:47 PM on March 15, 2013


Simpsons did it!

From the John Waters episode: "Homer, I won your respect—and all I had to do was save your life. Now, if every gay man could just do the same, you’d be set."
posted by benito.strauss at 1:48 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


20.9 vs. 19 is really close. Republicans' views on gay issues frustrate me to no end, but let's at least be objective when it comes to statistics.

I disagree, in that I think that looking at percentage point difference is actually more meaningful than looking at percentage increase in support, but even more meaningful I think would be looking at percentage decrease in opposition. So the 15.8% decrease in opposition among independents does in fact beat the 5.0% decrease in opposition among Republicans pretty handily. Let this comment be an implicit statement on just how far I think thinking about statistics in terms of objectivity gets you, also.
posted by invitapriore at 1:48 PM on March 15, 2013


If Portman is offended that people don't like his previous bigoted attempts to legally repress homosexuals so much that he changes his mind back despite his son, fuck him. We don't need him anyway.

Yeah. We only need either the support of 50% of the population in each state or 5 justices to agree with us. But you're right. Fuck him. Fuck those people who aren't totally devoted to the liberal cause. Gay people in Ohio still waiting to get married waiting for the consensus in the state to shift don't need him either. Fuck them, right?
posted by Talez at 1:49 PM on March 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


In America you're twice as likely to approve of gay marriage if you're close to or related to someone who's gay.

Really? Source?


I wonder how more likely people are to come out to you if you aren't a conservative anti-gay bigot.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:50 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


People have innately selfish traits about them at times. Attitudes like these are just shitting on the people who's support you need to drive social change.

Yes, people have these bad traits. But Portman is a representative of the people. If he (or any public official) is willing to differentiate between who can and cannot enjoy basic human liberties, then they are not up to the job. Period.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:50 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's like listening to Kierkegaard sell flatware.

I almost spit coffee all over my keyboard.

Progress is good. I'm in favor of progress. But I believe it's really not just okay but necessary to look at why we make the decisions we do, and if those reasons are good or bad. It's especially important for people in elected office - who, after all, are supposed to try to represent and listen to *all* of their constituents, and not just the ones who agree with them. Portman doesn't just represent conservative assholes who hate gay marriage. His constituency is much, much larger than just his family, and he should have maybe known that to begin with.
posted by rtha at 1:51 PM on March 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Really? Source?

"Knowing A Gay Person More Than Doubles Support For Marriage Equality"
posted by Talez at 1:52 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Cut the histrionics Talez. I said fuck him if he changes his mind because it hurts his fee-fees that we don't like his voting to treat homosexuals like second class citizens. This is a thing that isn't going to happen outside of your imagination, criticism is part of being a national politician. He does not care that people on Metafilter don't find him genuine. We don't need lectures to be nice to him or else.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:53 PM on March 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


So...we're against anti-gay-rights people changing their minds about gay rights, then? Is that the takeaway here?
posted by yoink at 1:53 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Nope! It sure isn't!
posted by invitapriore at 1:54 PM on March 15, 2013 [19 favorites]


Congratulations the the son for coming out and to the dad for not being a complete motherfucker. Of course, preemptivly not being an asshat would have been nice.
posted by Artw at 1:55 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The takeaway is that people should be making the decision because it affects everyone, not just themselves or the people they know. Otherwise, as I said, it's just part of the "Fuck you, I got mine" feedback loop that defines the modern conservatives of the US and the world.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:56 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Cut the histrionics Talez. I said fuck him if he changes his mind because it hurts his fee-fees that we don't like his voting to treat homosexuals like second class citizens. This is a thing that isn't going to happen outside of your imagination, criticism is part of being a national politician. He does not care that people on Metafilter don't find him genuine. We don't need lectures to be nice to him or else.

This isn't about him. This is about every other asshole that needs to be brought around to a post 19th century attitude on gay people and all they see is us shitting on assholes that have already come around.

So...we're against anti-gay-rights people changing their minds about gay rights, then? Is that the takeaway here?

Exactly. This is why this attitude towards assholes coming around pisses me off and why it needs to stop.
posted by Talez at 1:57 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I understand the criticisms, but thank God for the wrong reasons, or right would never get done.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:57 PM on March 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


yoink: "So...we're against anti-gay-rights people changing their minds about gay rights, then? Is that the takeaway here?"

Only when they're in a position of power. People with no impact on the law can change their minds all they want. No perverse incentives here, nosiree.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:57 PM on March 15, 2013


Really? Source?

"Knowing A Gay Person More Than Doubles Support For Marriage Equality"


Thanks, I wasn't intending that to be snarky, and I'm not an anti-gay bigot, I just didn't find that with an admittedly overly-quick google search and was curious. I have been close to/known gay people from an early enough age that I'd like to pretend I would have always supported equality, but I can only guess (hope) that to be true.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 2:00 PM on March 15, 2013


So if you held the wrong opinion on anything once then there is just no hope for you. You are a bad person until the end of time.

So...we're against anti-gay-rights people changing their minds about gay rights, then? Is that the takeaway here?

If you really want to talk about this, it'd be helpful if you'd stop trotting out these hyperbolic strawmen.

Yes, kudos to him for joining the 21st century. Praises for the guy for not disowning his own flesh and blood because of his sexual preference, even if this is like, a bare minimum of human decency. Not a single person here is saying his change of position is utterly meaningless; even the people criticising him still seem happy he's changed his position. But there is no reason why we'd should all just behave and sit on our hands about why this shit is supposed to matter to everyone, lest we upset the tender sensibilities of the GOP.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:01 PM on March 15, 2013 [17 favorites]


The takeaway is that people should be making the decision because it affects everyone, not just themselves or the people they know. Otherwise, as I said, it's just part of the "Fuck you, I got mine" feedback loop that defines the modern conservatives of the US and the world.

Texas just realized that being a bunch of selfish assholes is costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars as a consequence of unplanned pregnancies going to term instead of being prevented or aborted. It looks like they're hopefully now going to plow money back into family planning.

I don't care how they come about it so long as we get the right result. If we can do it quickly by appealing to their selfish asshole side instead of trying to slowly change their entire world view so much the better.
posted by Talez at 2:01 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


What strawman? We've got "fuck him if he changes his mind" for the wrong reasons, he's "no better" than the GOPers who still oppose same-sex marriage...I'm one of the accepting ones here and I called him irreparably stupid!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:03 PM on March 15, 2013


"Right move. Wrong reason. Absolutely deserves the criticism."

Honest and healthy love for ones' son is not a wrong reason for just about anything.

Jesus fucking Christ, civil rights aren't about being in some kind of exclusive club that only accepts people who were always right about them. This guy now supports my civil rights because someone very close to him was able to show him why they are important, this is good news and the kind of good news I'd like to see more of thank you very much. I could not give less of a shit about any of y'all's lily white senses of ideological purity, but I do care very much about seeing my right to marry who I please and this bullshit about how its somehow wrong to care about gay rights because you care about a gay person is seriously not helping.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:03 PM on March 15, 2013 [29 favorites]


It's like listening to Kierkegaard sell flatware.

What's flatware?
posted by biffa at 2:04 PM on March 15, 2013


This isn't about him. This is about every other asshole that needs to be brought around to a post 19th century attitude on gay people and all they see is us shitting on assholes that have already come around.

What they see is people being shit on for their bigoted past so they will avoid being bigots. People do not oppose gay marriage because of mean liberals. Do you understand this Talez? They actually have done polls. Mean liberals are not the cause! And believe it or not, there are actually plenty of media and online and face to face interactions in which the mean liberals are not "all they see." Racist, sexist, homophobic, and other views deserve the social shame heaped upon them.

We didn't give Senator Byrd a pass because if we were mean about it he might just go back and join the klan, he got a pass because he took real actions over years to make amends. If Portman does that, he won't be criticized as much. Until then, he can deal with the consequences of his own actions. Conservatives understand that concept.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:05 PM on March 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


So...we're against anti-gay-rights people changing their minds about gay rights, then? Is that the takeaway here?

There was this War Knight, who laughed scornfully at the Peace Knight's crazy ideas about "no war". The War Knight was a great advocate of war, who unleashed holy terror upon the land - he slaughtered indiscriminately by the thousands, and when his victims begged for their lives, he laughed as he cut off their heads. One day, he went to war with the Peace Knight, and the Peace Knight prevailed - with the sword against his neck, the War Knight had a tearful change of heart "indeed, war is not a good idea" - when the bystanders gasped with anger, he exclaimed:

"So...we're against pro-war people changing their minds about war, then? Is that the takeaway here?"

His life was spared - as it was congruent with Peace Knight's principles. But his honor was not, and he continued to be a laughing stock.
posted by VikingSword at 2:05 PM on March 15, 2013 [18 favorites]


Texas just realized that being a bunch of selfish assholes is costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars as a consequence of unplanned pregnancies going to term instead of being prevented or aborted. It looks like they're hopefully now going to plow money back into family planning.

Or not.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:05 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


"The takeaway is that people should be making the decision because it affects everyone, not just themselves or the people they know. Otherwise, as I said, it's just part of the "Fuck you, I got mine" feedback loop that defines the modern conservatives of the US and the world."

You may have missed the part where he now supports marriage equality for everyone and not somehow just his right to a son in law?
posted by Blasdelb at 2:05 PM on March 15, 2013


The takeaway is that people should be making the decision because it affects everyone, not just themselves or the people they know.
This isn't really how humans work, and probably isn't really how you work. Humanity does not end at the borders of the American middle class, or the nation's borders, or any nation's borders. What percentage of your income do you give to charities? Which ones?

Sorry, this seems like I'm attacking you, but I'm not (I promise). I don't measure up to any holy standard either.

I'd really recommend taking a look at the book I linked earlier. That this guy subordinated his received principles to his love for his son is actually pretty amazing and praiseworthy. That is not the approach the established patriarchal power structures wanted him to take.

This is love winning.

This is how it works.
posted by kavasa at 2:07 PM on March 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


So...we're against anti-gay-rights people changing their minds about gay rights, then? Is that the takeaway here?

I am wholly against the idea espoused here on Metafilter by folks like yourself and others that we must wholeheartedly give people like Senator Portman and President Obama full and complete credit for the progress we've made in defending our rights.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:08 PM on March 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


You may have missed the part where he now supports marriage equality for everyone and not somehow just his right to a son in law?

Nope, didn't miss it. Did you miss the part that, if his son hadn't come out, he'd probably still be supporting blatantly undemocratic policy?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:08 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


So...we're against anti-gay-rights people changing their minds about gay rights, then? Is that the takeaway here?

Well, no. I'm assuming that if a formerly anti-gay-rights politician said "Hey, I've been thinking about it, and I've decided that good old Christian compassion means I should support gay marriage. This is complicated, because I was raised believing differently, and it's taken me a long time to come around, but I did. I'm not gay, none of my kids are gay (that I know of), and I'll probably get pounded in the next election because of this, but it's just the right thing to do" then it would be totally cool.

I'm glad that he's one the right side, but I agree with those who wish that his conversion had been about some greater principle and not just something that happened because, hey, now it's personal.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 2:08 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Asking what Portman could have done to satisfy me is a fair question. I think all it would have taken was some indication on his part of awareness that he was changing his position seemingly solely because it now affected him personally and that he was wondering what other positions he's held might be affected by similar circumstances. It also would have been nice if he hadn't immediately backed down from actually taking any action regarding this change in stance. "I now support gay marriage and call on someone else to do something about it because it's not really my wheelhouse as a U.S. Senator" is only the babiest of baby steps.

There really is only so much praise I can summon up for someone who eventually shows a tiny fraction of human decency and empathy for purely selfish reasons, and doesn't show any evidence that any further introspection has been prompted.

(For the record, I feel the same way about Ebeneezer Scrooge and Darth Vader.)
posted by Legomancer at 2:09 PM on March 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I said fuck him if he changes his mind because it hurts his fee-fees that we don't like his voting to treat homosexuals like second class citizens.

But that's the thing, Drinky Die - your criticism doesn't hurt his fee-fees. The only thing it might do is make him angry. And given that one or two senators have more power to shift national policy than all of Metafilter - given that the support of just one conservative senator can change the lives of gay people more than all the debate on this website combined - it seems to me like slapping away an extended hand of friendship over past slights might not be the most... pragmatic move, shall we say? Please understand that I am not judging your ethics in any way: I'm simply thinking about the most efficient way to accomplish the end result - equal rights for all. My suggestion is just that it might be more useful in the practical sense to focus on winning first and playing the blame game later, once the end goal has already been achieved.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 2:10 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


What they see is people being shit on for their bigoted past so they will avoid being bigots. People do not oppose gay marriage because of mean liberals. Do you understand this Talez? They actually have done polls. Mean liberals are not the cause! And believe it or not, there are actually plenty of media and online and face to face interactions in which the mean liberals are not "all they see." Racist, sexist, homophobic, and other views deserve the social shame heaped upon them.

People have a general desire to be accepted as part of a group. It's why we do things like learn social norms and execute them. It's why you don't go up to a guy in the street and sniff his butt. If there's a potential stance that could see them ejected out of a close social group and the other side doesn't accept them for past, for lack of a better word, sins they're not going to be very keen to take that leap to the other side, right or wrong.

I am wholly against the idea espoused here on Metafilter by folks like yourself and others that we must wholeheartedly give people like Senator Portman and President Obama full and complete credit for the progress we've made in defending our rights.

Nobody's saying you have to give them credit or throw them a parade. Just don't be a fucking asshole and throw their decision back in their faces. Have some god damn common courtesy. "Welcome to the winning team now let's get to work" should be the attitude.
posted by Talez at 2:10 PM on March 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm curious about the two year reaction time. That's some slow activating personal bias.

It sounds like his son was 18 and barely out of high school at the time. I wonder if the delay was related to his son's privacy, though I have no specific recollection of his public attitude toward gay rights during the interim.
posted by lullaby at 2:12 PM on March 15, 2013


"Hey, I've been thinking about it, and I've decided that good old Christian compassion means I should support gay marriage. This is complicated, because I was raised believing differently, and it's taken me a long time to come around, but I did. I'm not gay, none of my kids are gay (that I know of), and I'll probably get pounded in the next election because of this, but it's just the right thing to do"

John Lynch, governor of my beloved home state, did pretty much this! I am down with it!

Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage
During the 2006 debates, Governor Lynch clearly stated that he believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman and that the state's civil union law already provides gay and lesbian couples with the same rights as marriage.

Support for Same-Sex Marriage
In May of 2009, Governor Lynch stated that he would sign a bill to legalize same-sex marriage if the bill was altered to provide certain protections for religious groups. In a prepared statement, Governor Lynch said the following:

My personal views on the subject of marriage have been shaped by my own experience, tradition and upbringing. But as governor of New Hampshire, I recognize that I have a responsibility to consider this issue through a broader lens. I have heard, and I understand, the very real feelings of same-sex couples that a separate system is not an equal system (and that the current civil union law, passed in 2007, is not adequate.)

posted by Greg Nog at 2:14 PM on March 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


Just don't be a fucking asshole and throw their decision back in their faces.

Except I'm not the fucking asshole who advocated for a Constitutional Amendment taking away my rights only about 2.5 years ago. I'm happy he changed his mind, but the idea that I shouldn't dare criticize politicians on Metafilter for a lifetime of not only being wrong but being in a position to affect wrong decisions strikes me as victim blaming. No thank you, sir.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:14 PM on March 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


This is how every human being works.

Think about the civil rights movements that have been relatively successful: women's rights, disabled rights, veteran's rights, rights for seniors, and now gay rights. They are all conditions that happen more or less randomly, even to family members of the rich and powerful.

Now think of the civil rights movements that have pretty much run out of steam: rights for poor people, black people, Indians, undocumented immigrants, etc. No child of a senator is ever going to fit into one of those categories.
posted by miyabo at 2:15 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


When he shows he can extrapolate from this change of heart to others that don't directly affect his first-degree relatives, then I will celebrate his great spirit. Until then, he's just a self-interested asshole who favors his son more than his party's dictates.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:16 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Except I'm not the fucking asshole who advocated for a Constitutional Amendment taking away my rights only about 2.5 years ago. I'm happy he changed his mind, but the idea that I shouldn't dare criticize politicians on Metafilter for a lifetime of not only being wrong but being in a position to affect wrong decisions strikes me as victim blaming. No thank you, sir.

You ever heard the phrase "bury the hatchet"? It's like you're looking for a fight with someone who no longer wants to fight you on this issue.
posted by Talez at 2:17 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder if the delay was related to his son's privacy...

He's free to change his mind at any time without citing his son's status as a reason.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:19 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


People have a general desire to be accepted as part of a group. It's why we do things like learn social norms and execute them.

Yes, social norms such as "If you act like a bigot, you're gonna get told."

It's why you don't go up to a guy in the street and sniff his butt.

So you see, in this example, I just pried a Senator out of my crack. He has told me he regrets this, but the offense is bit too raw to let go.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:19 PM on March 15, 2013


You don't have to embrace his past actions, but maybe don't react to somebody coming over to your side with "fuck you, you're still scum"?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:20 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is how every human being works.

Think about the civil rights movements that have been relatively successful: women's rights, disabled rights, veteran's rights, rights for seniors, and now gay rights. They are all conditions that happen more or less randomly, even to family members of the rich and powerful.

Now think of the civil rights movements that have pretty much run out of steam: rights for poor people, black people, Indians, undocumented immigrants, etc. No child of a senator is ever going to fit into one of those categories.


If this is how every human being works, then how come the civil rights movements, both those that have been "relatively successful" and that have "pretty much run out of steam" (and I would quibble with both) still have the support a good number of the rich and/or powerful, and not coincidentally almost entirely from one side of the political spectrum?
posted by zombieflanders at 2:20 PM on March 15, 2013


It's like you're looking for a fight with someone who no longer wants to fight you on this issue.

Sorry, I'm just sick to the bones of people like you propping these individuals up as heroes or otherwise people worthy of our full admiration. It's such a lie.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:21 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is how every human being works.

Or most human beings. But should we celebrate people when they fall into this mold, or try to convince them that they need to change the way they view the world? Should Portman be celebrated or attacked for making clear that this decision was based on family concerns?

If we settle for politicians making decisions out of personal/family interest, then who is going to advocate for poor people?
posted by andoatnp at 2:21 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel like some people just really want to be pissed off as loudly as possible about everything.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:21 PM on March 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Jesus christ, people, he doesn't need anybody on Metafilter (or anywhere else, I hope, and if he does he's in the wrong fucking job) to send him candy and flowers as thanks for stopping being such an asshole.

It is okay to criticize politicians.

It is okay to do that even when they occasionally do something right, if they did it for a fucked-up reason. I can guarantee that a ton of people right here would be jumping all over Obama if he decided to end the drone program because someone he loved was killed by a drone strike.

It is possible to be both happy that someone changed their mind about a thing and critical of their reasoning behind the change.
posted by rtha at 2:21 PM on March 15, 2013 [19 favorites]


"Nope, didn't miss it. Did you miss the part that, if his son hadn't come out, he'd probably still be supporting blatantly undemocratic policy?"

...And so he has joined just about all of the allies we have in caring about gay people having discovered that the gayness of people they care about. It wasn't these kinds of circular firing squads, or condescending lectures, or out-liberaling contests, or self-satisfied othering that caused the massive social change in the acceptance of the gay we've seen in the last fifty years; it was the courage of sons like Rob Portman's and the courage of fathers like Rob Portman that did it. I'm just glad the arc of the moral universe really does bend towards justice and that the goose that is laying these golden eggs is a lot stronger than this petty bullshit.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:23 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


wolfdreams01: "I'm simply thinking about the most efficient way to accomplish the end result - which is equal rights for all. It might be more useful in the practical sense focus on that first and play the blame game later, once the goal has already been achieved."

How is waiting for the requisite number of anti-(LGBT, abortion, safety net, universal healthcare) senators and representatives to each be affected enough by these issues personally to flip their vote "efficient"? You and Talez are discounting the value of pointing out that it's not only hypocritical but flat-out sociopathic to govern with the beliefs that:

(1) government should be small
but
(2) it should also be big enough to legislate morality
except
(2b) in cases where people you love will be harmed by said legislation of morality.

Pointing this out to anyone who will listen is important enough that I'm willing to take the chance that Rob Portman's feelings might be hurt if he hears liberals don't like his reasons for changing his mind.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:23 PM on March 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Sorry, I'm just sick to the bones of people like you propping these individuals up as heroes or otherwise people worthy of our full admiration. It's such a lie.

I'm 90% sure that I've referred to his conservative ilk and his previous actions as being an asshole this entire thread. Can someone back me up on this?
posted by Talez at 2:23 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't think anyone is saying 'Don't criticize politicians.' People are more reacting to the 'he was wrong so I don't care that he changed his mind, fuck him' crowd.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:24 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Should Portman be celebrated or attacked

It's important to note that these are OUR ONLY OPTIONS.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:24 PM on March 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


Talez: "Welcome to the winning team now let's get to work" should be the attitude"

This is an implicit endorsement of the Republican "fuck you, I've got mine" principle of governing, wherein the "we" in "we the people" is defined as "the people I care about" instead of "all American citizens" as our founders intended. No thanks.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:26 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am happy to have a Republican senator take yet another vote away from the hateful conservative agenda. If he now spends as much energy campaigning for human rights and dignity that he spent campaigning against them (when he thought he didn't have to care), he might eventually earn more than a begrudging nod. Until then, he may be an ally, but that doesn't make him a friend.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:26 PM on March 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


I think people are overlooking the fact that in his announcement, Senator Portman didn't say he supported gay marriage because it would benefit his son. Rather, he said that his son's coming out to him helped him "think of this issue in a new perspective." He went on to justify his position on gay marriage as grounded in Christian ideas of universal love and the Golden Rule. With all the straw men being thrown around in this conversation, it would help not to make the Senator himself into a straw man either. I think we should take him at his word that he has had a philosophical, rather than purely self-interested, change of heart on this, even if it was indeed spurred by his son coming out to him. I think it's worthy of recognition, and even praise, and a good example for other conservative politicians looking for a method to effect a new stance of publicly supporting gay marriage. It behooves us to create more avenues for people on the wrong side to publicly turn around on this.
posted by Pfardentrott at 2:27 PM on March 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


"You may have missed the part where he now supports marriage equality for everyone and not somehow just his right to a son in law?"

I certainly missed the part where he was going to take any fucking action at all to advance the freedom to marry outside of saying that he supports it once and dropping it.
posted by klangklangston at 2:28 PM on March 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


How is waiting for the requisite number of anti-(LGBT, abortion, safety net, universal healthcare) senators and representatives to each be affected enough by these issues personally to flip their vote "efficient"?

I don't care what they use to flip their vote. I couldn't care if their mind was changed by an impassioned speech by Jeff Winger. But saying "fuck you we don't want your vote if you changed for your own selfish reasons" seems entirely counterproductive.
posted by Talez at 2:28 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Until then, he may be an ally, but that doesn't make him a friend.

Given his voting record, he certainly has a lot of damage to undo.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:28 PM on March 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


This is an implicit endorsement of the Republican "fuck you, I've got mine" principle of governing

Because no other political party in the United States composed of human beings acts like this. Ever.
posted by Tanizaki at 2:29 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I'm just sick to the bones of people like you propping these individuals up as heroes or otherwise people worthy of our full admiration. It's such a lie.

I'm 90% sure that I've referred to his conservative ilk and his previous actions as being an asshole this entire thread. Can someone back me up on this?


You did. You also called someone who criticized his reasons but praised the choice to change an asshole and the reason liberals "always lose". So you have kinda been all over the place.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:29 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Talez: "fuck you we don't want your vote if you changed for your own selfish reasons" seems entirely counterproductive"

Nobody's saying that. I want his vote. I also want him to stop using the machinery of government to hurt people who aren't his son.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:31 PM on March 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Hey, I've been thinking about it, and I've decided that good old Christian compassion means I should support gay marriage."

There is good reason to think this.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:32 PM on March 15, 2013


Here's the thing. His change obviously runs contrary to his allies and is a win for ours. To be suspicious is fine, to act like you don't need him is naive.... and false. Yeah, he can probably take it -- but so what?

Furthermore, to say that he hasn't been responsibly representing his people is also false. He is an elected representative. e.g. people voted for him. He is simply following a larger trend in Ohio. You'll note that he's turning the tide at exactly the correct time according to the polls in Ohio (maybe a bit behind), otherwise it's a good chance he would not be elected next time around. Ohio knew *exactly* what they were getting when they elected him.

Arguing whether there is some deficit in his moral outlook isn't very convincing -- it's not convincing when conservatives do it, and it's not convincing when people on the left do it either. It makes you feel better about human nature perhaps, but I'm going to have to come down on Talez's side here -- human nature being what it is, personal indoctrination and experience (both positive & negative) counts for a lot -- it is all we have to project on others -- we have nothing else.
posted by smidgen at 2:32 PM on March 15, 2013


I don't give a damn that he's late to the party. Welcome, Senator. Thank you for doing this before the SCOTUS arguments.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:32 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Nobody's saying that. I want his vote. I also want him to stop using the machinery of government to hurt people who aren't his son."

Rob Portman: "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."
posted by Blasdelb at 2:34 PM on March 15, 2013


You did. You also called someone who criticized his reasons but praised the choice an asshole and the reason liberals "always lose". So you have kinda been all over the place.

My personal opinion is the entire energy of the discourse should focused on going forward. I want to win social battles not be pedantic about who we want to help us and why.
posted by Talez at 2:34 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder if he will do any future advocacy for gay rights or if this OpEd will be about it.
posted by Area Man at 2:39 PM on March 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


You did. You also called someone who criticized his reasons but praised the choice an asshole and the reason liberals "always lose". So you have kinda been all over the place.

My personal opinion is the entire energy of the discourse should focused on going forward. I want to win social battles not be pedantic about who we want to help us.


I don't see any distance between your decision to call Portman an asshole and the decision to criticize his reasons for the change in the name of encouraging people to have more empathy.

Aside of course from the second decision being more productive and less childish. So, I'm left wondering why you called the second acting like an asshole and the reason liberals always lose.

I don't want to argue for the sake of arguing, you don't actually disagree with what you were responding to in that comment. You made an off base comment. We can leave it there. If you need to keep going, try and explain how Marisa's comment was not focused on moving forward and was just pedantic, because I don't see it.

Here it is, as a reminder:

The conservative case for same-sex marriage has been around a while now, and while people worry about how Republican voters respond to this, I still find it encouraging that most Americans, overall, support it. Be great to see more conservatives get on board, but you can't have it all.

I think the criticism is entirely valid. The argument being made is this was no Road To Damascus moment for the Senator; it was a changing of positions based on something that happened within his own family. He's doing the right thing, yes, and deserves praise for that, but by criticising how he got there, we also underline why this right is important to us all - because it matters to us all, even if it doesn't affect us directly.

posted by Drinky Die at 2:43 PM on March 15, 2013


It's okay to have nuanced and mixed feelings about this. Like this:

1. I'm happy he's changed his position

2. But there's something not quite right about changing your position only when it affects your life personally

3. And there's something not quite right about praising that unconditionally

4. (Though there's something not right about condemning it unconditionally, either)

5. Other people will also feel justified in not changing their position unless it affects them personally

6. Other issues like abortion and healthcare will go unexamined until it affects people personally

7. The idea of critical questioning/examination of your beliefs, and the idea of empathizing with others' plights who don't affect you, are key ideas. They're the cornerstone of how I've shaped most of my views. These ideas are being thrown to the wayside

8. It would be irresponsible for me to ignore that. In some ways it's those principles that affect a wider range of issues on an even broader level

9. So unquestioning praise for Portman here is something that may be tactically sound from a gay rights advocacy position, but that may be up for debate, and it wouldn't feel right for me personally
posted by naju at 2:44 PM on March 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


Anil Dash: Eventually one of these Republican congressmen is going to find out his daughter is a woman, and then we're all set.
posted by scody at 2:45 PM on March 15, 2013 [34 favorites]


Blasdelb: " Rob Portman: "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.""

I seem to have failed my saving throw vs. pedantry.

What I meant, and should have said, is that I want him to stop using the machinery of government to hurt people until it personally affects him. The reason for his change of heart is very relevant, because chances are he's not going to also have a child with a debilitating illness that causes him to max out his lifetime cap on medical insurance because he's against single payer healthcare, and also have another child who gets hit with the 30th bullet in a 30 round magazine because he opposes gun control, and also have parents who are struggling because he would like to privatize social security, and...

I think you get the idea.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:46 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think people are overlooking the fact that in his announcement, Senator Portman didn't say he supported gay marriage because it would benefit his son. Rather, he said that his son's coming out to him helped him "think of this issue in a new perspective." He went on to justify his position on gay marriage as grounded in Christian ideas of universal love and the Golden Rule.

We'll see if his perspective grounded in Christian ideas of universal love and the Golden Rule extend to voting rights (a particularly sticky issue for his state) or health care, for starters.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:47 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


he certainly has a lot of damage to undo

Exactly. Taking a hateful vote away is always a good thing, and taking a hateful voice away is always a good thing. But if Portman doesn't actually roll his sleeves up and actively work to undo the damage he has already done, then it becomes too easy to reduce this decision to a private family matter rather than an honest change of heart. And then an opportunity is lost. I'm going to wait and see which way he goes with this before deciding how I feel about it. Call me guardedly pleased he is no longer peddling hate for votes. Beyond that, only time will tell.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:47 PM on March 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think the criticism is valid, but I still sent him a little thank you email. He's sure to get some hate mail on this and I want his staff to be able to give him metrics that are positive for the pro-civil rights side. I'm sure he loves his son, but at the end of the day he's going to want to get re-elected, and those metrics may be the difference between tepid, passive support and actual hands-on support.
posted by joannemerriam at 2:48 PM on March 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


I would find it easier to believe that his change of heart is not a selfish one if he were prepared to do ANYTHING to advance the cause of equal rights. From what I have seen so far, he's not actually planning to do any work to reverse the effects of his own heinous voting record on this issue, he's just saying, hey everybody, after consulting with Dick Cheney and my Bible I don't hate my son for being who he is.

If he wants to vote in favor of equal rights, and do some advocacy work for equal rights groups, I'm all for it. But until he actually puts his money where his mouth is, so to speak... I'm sorry, call me an asshole and a liberal failure if you feel that's what I am, but I can't get behind lauding someone who's so far only paying lip service. Call me when he actually DOES something.
posted by palomar at 2:48 PM on March 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Krugman:
I’ve noticed this thing quite a lot in American life lately — this sort of cramped vision of altruism in which it’s considered perfectly acceptable to support only those causes that are directly good for you and yours. We even have a tendency to view it as “inauthentic” when people support policies that aren’t in their self-interest — when a rich man supports higher taxes on the rich, he’s somehow seen as strange, and probably a hypocrite.

Needless to say, this is all wrong. Political virtue consists in standing for what’s right, even — or indeed especially — when it doesn’t redound to your own benefit. Someone should ask Portman why he didn’t take a stand for, you know, other people’s children.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:55 PM on March 15, 2013 [21 favorites]


Is Will Portman the first gay person that Senator Portmant has gotten to know?
posted by andoatnp at 3:02 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow, I was prepared to bask in this news for awhile longer after hearing about it this morning and this thread kind of soured that. It was a bright spot in my day, and it reminds me of all the people who have gradually become more and more vocal supporters of gay rights since they've met me—my conservative Christian college roommates, my grandmother, my dad (who confessed to me before his death that he thought he was probably gay, too), my girlfriend's parents, my coworkers, even people who casually interact with us and see that we aren't what they thought a gay person would be.

Yes, I hope he puts his money where his mouth is and it would be great if he had reached this decision before he had done damage. But I'm thinking of my dad—who was a liberal guy—and the time I got in a huge fight with when I said that I supported Obama because he was more and more supportive of gay rights and my dad was so furious with me, because to his eyes gay rights weren't as important as all the other issues that he thought Obama was ignoring, like the economy and the military. That's the thing, to a lot of people, gay rights (and fighting for them) aren't on their radar until they actually know someone that's gay. I'm willing to accept that, especially from Republican politicians, and during my strongest moments I'm proud that I have that power to sway someone's opinion (when I'm not totally exasperated by it.) I'm hopefully optimistic that Rob Portman might become a greater ally than he is now, and I'm thrilled that someone else is coming out in support of gay marriage. It means a lot to me.
posted by thesocietyfor at 3:03 PM on March 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


It makes me upset to read so much criticism of Senator Portman. We forget to easily that it's hard to do the right thing. Check out any trans thread that goes wrong here. Even really liberal people can say crazy things without education.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:06 PM on March 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


How is waiting for the requisite number of anti-(LGBT, abortion, safety net, universal healthcare) senators and representatives to each be affected enough by these issues personally to flip their vote "efficient"?

When compared to the "social shaming" idea you seem to support, it is more efficient by far. Social shaming generally only works on people who care about the group doing the shaming. If somebody doesn't particularly care about your support, then an attempt to socially shame them will simply result in them deciding that your group is a threat, and they will do their best to reshape society so that you have no voice in it, thus minimizing both your threat and the effect of your shaming. This is especially true of people with aggressive mindsets, which is a category that I think we can agree most Republicans fall into.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 3:14 PM on March 15, 2013


Harvey Milk:
“We must continue to speak out and most importantly, every gay person must come out. As difficult as it is, you must tell your immediate family, you must tell your relatives, you must tell your friends — if they indeed are your friends — you must tell your neighbors, you must tell the people you work with, you must tell the people in the stores you shop in, and once they realize that we are indeed their children and that we are indeed everywhere, every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and for all. And once you do you will feel so much better.”
posted by ericb at 3:15 PM on March 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


Portman: "Knowing that my son is gay prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective"

No, it's the exact same perspective - his own. This doesn't make him one of the good guys. He's an asshole who happens to have precisely one agreeable opinion.
posted by rocket88 at 3:17 PM on March 15, 2013


Social shaming generally only works on people who care about the group doing the shaming.

It didn't really matter what George Allen thought of liberals or non-racists or Indian Americans. Macaca still killed his campaign.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:19 PM on March 15, 2013


Here is a hilarious/depressing compilation of responses from CPAC attendees asked about this topic.
posted by Corinth at 3:25 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rocket88, I just think that what you're saying is extreme—he's an asshole and he'll always be an asshole, the end?—and I can't figure out what you want from him. I'm not being snarky, I'm wondering what you think would be a better way for him to have gone about expressing his changing view of gay marriage? I'm willing to admit that I don't know much about him other than this. No one is saying that he's suddenly a good guy for reaching what (to me) should be a really obvious belief. But I will give him credit because a lot of conservatives would rather disown their children than let them influence their views on social issues and his opinion isn't merely agreeable, it's likely to do some good.
posted by thesocietyfor at 3:25 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


wolfdreams01: "When compared to the "social shaming" idea you seem to support, it is more efficient by far. Social shaming generally only works on people who care about the group doing the shaming. "

I don't think that's correct. I'm fine with calling it social shaming, as I don't see any problem with using shame as a tool to expose hypocrisy and narcissistic governance. But the idea that it only works on "people who care about the group doing the shaming" is one that I don't think is supported by history. Shame works. Civil disobedience often relies on an appeal to everyone's sense of shame, and not just preaching to the choir, but to the mushy middle who maybe hadn't thought about their own complicity. In this case, lauding Portman for talking to Dick Cheney and interpreting scripture differently is an acceptance of the idea that it's okay to keep certain groups of people down as long as you do it for the right reasons, and I think we should expect more from those who represent us in Congress.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:26 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


" It didn't really matter what George Allen thought of liberals or non-racists or Indian Americans. Macaca still killed his campaign."

Rob Portman isn't saying Macaca, he is saying whatever the opposite of Macaca is and our ridiculous Puritan sensibilities make even that somehow shameful.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:29 PM on March 15, 2013


ridiculous Puritan sensibilities

This victim blaming really needs to stop.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:32 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Be a little pragmatic and welcome them to the god damn team

Indeed, the man should not be greeted with unfair attacks and a nasty tone.

Instead, he should be greeted with the respect he deserves and has earned.

Perhaps like this:

"Welcome, most distinguished Sir! You truly are a man of principle! We are delighted to welcome as dependable an ally as yourself

The principle being "me and mine". We can always count on you to vigorously pursue your own interests, and we can depend on your unreserved support for what's good for you and yours. What a fine ally that is - so dependable and always like a rock, steadfast in his own corner!"

Please, only words that are true and fair, and expressed with the utmost of politeness and good manners.

Then there are other politicians, with a record perhaps every bit as sorry as his. I have seen them. And I have seen them tearfully and sincerely speak of the pain they caused, and the change of heart they've had, when they've seen the pain of loving couples of the same sex whose rights were being trampled. The rights of strangers. And they then voted and did the right thing.

And I welcome those with open arms, and hold no grudges and we march forward together.

When someone comes to you ("your team") of their own volition having seen the error of their ways, deserves your open hand of friendship. A man who comes to you only because they have been compelled by an overwhelming force of immediate self-interest is an "ally" who deserves watching, and when you are doing battle it may not be particularly "pragmatic" to welcome such allies with overly great praise, seeing as it is not "pragmatic" to spare extra men to watch over your "ally" in the midst of battle.
posted by VikingSword at 3:37 PM on March 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


I can't figure out what you want from him. I'm not being snarky, I'm wondering what you think would be a better way for him to have gone about expressing his changing view of gay marriage?

What would make him not an asshole, in other words? A similar amount of "empathy" for poverty, reproductive rights, worker's rights, income inequality, minority voting rights, underfunded schools, and the medically uninsured.
posted by rocket88 at 3:38 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I wonder if Will Portman dies if Senator Portman will stop supporting marriage equality.
posted by andoatnp at 3:40 PM on March 15, 2013


I like that a lot of people here can absolutely see inside him to know for certain what his motives are, because obviously republicans cannot ever ever be anything other than self-serving assholes. Like many people have said, we're none of us perfect and while this guy is behind many of us in adjusting his thinking to reality, he is not unfathomably different.

He is not a hero. He is not a trailblazer. He has changed his mind, is all. To effectively tell him that there are no takebacks is not only politically counterproductive it's just not very decent of you. Only time will tell how this will affect the way he does politics, but there is none of us that can predict that.

I'm just imagining myself in a similar situation, to have some personal event in my life shake me out of some of my false preconceptions (I wouldn't even know I have one, but I probably do) and then when I told people that I have changed my mind, they would just tell me to go fuck myself because I didn't figure this out earlier. And I know this is a massive cliche, but politicians really are also people. He has hurt a lot of people with his politics, but that does not mean he cannot change his mind. Let's hope that this change reflects in his politics as well.
posted by Authorized User at 3:50 PM on March 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Rob Portman isn't saying Macaca, he is saying whatever the opposite of Macaca is and our ridiculous Puritan sensibilities make even that somehow shameful.

You will find no quote from me suggesting this was a shameful change of heart, please do not erroneously suggest otherwise.

Portman did not say Macaca, you are correct. He did not have one off the cuff verbal slip-up at a campaign event. What Portman did was immeasurably worse and he did it for years.

That said, my point there was about the power of shaming in politics, not the appropriateness of it in any specific case. ACORN, for another example, was shamed out of existence over a complete and total lie.

My worry with treating Portman with kid gloves would be the message it sends to the up and coming Republican politicians. They should not get the message that they can pander to the conservative base now with bigotry and change their position later when the political winds and demographics shift with no cost.

No modern politician would get the Byrd treatment, at some point you don't really have a good excuse for being a bigot anymore. Right now in 2013, the majority of Americans support gay marriage. There is no more room for excuses. No more room for, "But it's hard!" Most of us made it happen, if you want to be a leader, you have to be better than most of us.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:51 PM on March 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


His apparent position of allowing states to determine if they should have gay rights doesn't really seem to put him on the side of gay-rights.

If you recall, during the civil rights battle in the 60's, this was the position of those that wanted to continue the institutionalized racism in their states.

His 'middle-of-the-road' approach to the issue (he won't oppose gay marriage anymore, supposedly, but won't fight for gay rights either) seems to have pissed off both sides of this issue. Which seems fair. (I'm reminded of a terribly clever title of a fine book "There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos").
posted by el io at 3:56 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


What would make him not an asshole, in other words? A similar amount of "empathy" for poverty, reproductive rights, worker's rights, income inequality, minority voting rights, underfunded schools, and the medically uninsured.

That's not really what I was asking. I get that he, as a conservative, holds views that you and I believe (or more strongly, know) to be wrong; I get that it'd be great if he also changed those views. But he didn't, and he's come out for gay marriage and I'm willing to be happy about it despite his other views but your comment saying that he's just an asshole made me wonder whether you're saying that those other views means he can't be praised for changing his opinion on gay marriage. I do understand that this belief doesn't make him a great guy but he has shown himself willing to consider other points of view with this and maybe he'll end up reconsidering his other conservative views as well. Maybe I'm just feeling charitable and optimistic, plus I don't know enough about Senator Portman to really dislike him—I have plenty of politicians here in Arizona to follow in disgust.

I guess I'm unfairly targeting your comment, and thank you for your response. I'm frustrated by the overall "eh, he's a jerk so who cares if he's coming out for gay marriage" vibe I'm getting from a lot of comments and I have to get back to work and haven't been able to articulate why that bothers me so much or even if I'm right to be bothered by it. I don't think that any person here, such as myself, who has a big stake in gay marriage is throwing open their arms in unconditional support for this guy. I'm just saying: hey, this is a good thing he's doing. No one is giving him a free pass because of it.
posted by thesocietyfor at 3:57 PM on March 15, 2013


Fair enough. I guess I neglected to mention that I'm happy to have one more senator on side (sort of). This is a good thing for gay rights and I recognize that. But he's still hurting a lot of people with his politics. If gay marriage rights is the only progressive cause you (not you personally, thesocietyfor) believe in then I guess Portman is one of the good ones.
I don't see it that way, but I'm glad to have the asshole on board.
posted by rocket88 at 4:09 PM on March 15, 2013


He's come out in favor of gay marriage under certain circumstances (leave it to the states). I will wait to see how much speaking and pushing and advocating he does for Ohio to allow gay marriage. And then I'll see if he'd do the same for another state....if his son happens to move to a no-gay-marriage state.
posted by rtha at 4:12 PM on March 15, 2013


I hope his son also comes out as a melting Arctic glacier.
posted by Cookiebastard at 4:17 PM on March 15, 2013 [35 favorites]


Just out of curiosity what's the statistical likelihood that republican has a gay child?
posted by srboisvert at 4:20 PM on March 15, 2013


Man, you people are a tough crowd to agree with!
Excoriating powerful people for agreeing with you is surely not a wise strategy to create the change you want to see.
posted by vorpal bunny at 4:24 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


You are right, v. bunny. But treating powerful people with disdain and ridicule is a wise strategy for improving my mood, and nothing short of millions of dollars will create the change I want to see.
posted by Ella Fynoe at 4:26 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


If gay marriage rights is the only progressive cause you (not you personally, thesocietyfor) believe in then I guess Portman is one of the good ones.

People and especially politicians don't divide neatly into good and bad people. I know this is another cliche but its still true. Is this guy an asshole? I don't know him and can't hardly trust any picture painted through the media. Does he agree with me on political issues? Not at all, not even after his decision to not fight very hard against gay marriage. It's hard to see how I would ever vote for him.

We can only really guess at his or any other politicians true motives about doing what they do. And if you think that anyone disagreeing with you is necessarily an asshole, maybe you should consider empathising with them a little bit. Attacking a politician when he does something that you agree with is just something I don't understand.
posted by Authorized User at 4:29 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


What's flatware? $20, same as in town.

I want to be all hatey on this caveman who can't spare empathy for anyone outside his tribe, but all of you pointing out that this is counterproductive are right.

Congratulations for choosing to support equality, Senator Portman. Good luck with changing your party's platform to remove the anti-gay rights plank.
posted by jclarkin at 4:48 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


All humans have blind spots.

Not all humans are congressmen. In fact I'd say not many senators are human.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 4:54 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Look, the Lizard People Caucus has apologized for that baby eating party, let it go already.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:56 PM on March 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I would be a great deal more supportive of him if his writing indicated some deeper reevaluation of his position as someone with a lot of power. In nearly all of the pivot moments I've experienced in myself and in those around me, there's a significant measure of regret and a vow to work to try to undo the wrongs committed. When you realize you've been hurting people unfairly, empathy demands that you try to fix what you did. I don't get that from this piece.

So, great, one less vote for anti-gay measures, but hardly something to cheer about beyond that.
posted by introp at 4:57 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are conservatives really holding out hope that they can round up homosexuals and put them in institutions (or give them the Turing treatment)?

Yes, some of them still are hoping for something like that.

And based on his past positions, it sounds like if it weren't for his son, Portman might be one of them. So while it's good that he won't be actively pushing any more to take rights away from gay people, I don't find his new position on the issue all that praiseworthy, either.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 4:59 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Congratulations for choosing to support equality, Senator Portman. Good luck with changing your party's platform to remove the anti-gay rights plank.

...and give some thought to other positions you hold that might adversely affect real people in ways you would object to were it you and yours.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:06 PM on March 15, 2013


Why can't some folks separate "the reason he holds this new opinion" from "this new opinion itself"? Unless the Senator is just totally making stuff up, he has indicated that his son's situation opened his eyes to a problem suffered by ALL gay folks who would like to be married. He seems to have accepted that all of them should have that option under law. Who cares why he came to that conclusion; fact is, he did. Of course, as others have noted, we now have to make sure he really meant it, that he lives up to it. And there is some indication that he intends really just to take a hands-off approach, rather than actively supporting marriage equality ... but at the same time, here we have a leading proponent of marriage INequality now saying he won't do that shit any more. Let's all just nod our heads, smile like Buddha, and see what happens; OK? No need to use this as an opportunity to excoriate further this guy who, by the way, we all ought to have been excoriating for years. (Question: How many of you who are jumping on this opportunity to ream this guy today were actually, really aware of who he was and what he was doing over the years against marriage equality and were actively protesting it back then, when it mattered? Yeah, right. The one or two of you who were don't really need to respond.)
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 5:06 PM on March 15, 2013


Man, you people are a tough crowd to agree with!

You should see the threads where Obama actually takes action on gay rights.
posted by Artw at 5:07 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Question: How many of you who are jumping on this opportunity to ream this guy today were actually, really aware of who he was and what he was doing over the years against marriage equality and were actively protesting it back then, when it mattered? Yeah, right. The one or two of you who were don't really need to respond.
I think that not only may you be underestimating the number of people who look at the vote totals, congresspersons' home states, roll calls, etc., when these hateful measures come up, but doing it in a way that feels pretty insulting from here. :(
posted by introp at 5:09 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


You should see the threads where Obama actually takes action on gay rights.

Stop trying to summon BP.
-

Yeah, a lot of us here follow politics very closely. Ohio as a national battleground gets special attention. Just about every liberal here (pro or con on bashing him) who does follow politics will likely cheer if he loses his next election to generic Democrat, and will not feel at all bad that this change of heart may have contributed to a loss by convincing the conservative base to sour on him. You reap what you sow with the Limbaugh crowd.

That is one part of the decision that does deserve praise. I can't emphasize enough how little he cares about what internet liberals think of this move. He knows they won't vote for him anyway, but the social conservative base that is bashing him tonight are going to be a major focus.

The bravery to take that on with his career at risk does deserve praise, but it does not give him a free pass from criticism for his past.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:20 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Criticism is easy. What would really make a difference, though, is encouragement. By going public with this, he has made a big step—for him, I'm sure it's a giant step. So encourage him, don't berate him. Help him work up the confidence to take another step.

To you, it was a baby step. To the baby it is a huge, mind-blowing step. Don't shout at the baby!
posted by five fresh fish at 5:31 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


The bravery to take that on with his career at risk does deserve praise, but it does not give him a free pass from criticism for his past.

I don't think anyone here has said that Senator Portman should receive a free pass from criticism for his past. As you say, he's being pretty brave here; he could suffer for this politically, but then again, he should have suffered for his past political positions and votes that were ridiculously bigoted and wrong. Some have been asking that we do the decent (and logically correct) thing and try to evaluate properly, separately, and in context both his past behavior (reprehensible) and this current statement on a particular issue (OK, good for him; he opened his eyes at last). I agree with them. This action does not excuse his past jerky behavior, and I think most if not all folks posting in this thread agree with that.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 5:34 PM on March 15, 2013


the criticisms of this guy are ridiculous. this is a total freebie, a stroke of good fortune, and you guys are throwing it away. not smart at all. this didn't have to happen!! it's a huge bonus, totally unexpected.

what's really disturbing about this is how stereotypically republican it all sounds. this is *exactly* what the tea party is busy doing, right now - rejecting potential allies for their lack of ideological purity.

politics is not about classifying everybody into "good guys" and "bad guys" - this discussion sounds like something from junior high.

dumb, people, dumb.
posted by facetious at 5:35 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm excited about this. I think it's a significant step and whether it's because 1) he doesn't think it's political suicide to do so or 2) he's willing to take a bold stand, it's a good thing. Honestly I think it's much better if it's the first - sure, the latter is more heroic and thrilling but the first means the change is already happening - this announcement doesn't bring the change anymore than crocuses bring the spring, but they let us know that spring is here. This is changing from a liberal vs conservative issue to a "basic human decency" issue, which is what we need to happen to get where we want to be.

Probably wouldn't ever vote for the guy if I were in his state, and if this were a discussion about his stance on other issues, I'd be critical. But I appreciate this. I sent him a thank you note too. (Thanks for the link, joannemerriam).

If only non-assholes are allowed on "our side" it's going to be a looong long wait for full equality. As someone with several family members who are struggling around their gay relatives and who are taking much longer than a couple of years to openly acknowledge that their kids are gay and support them despite their religious and political affiliations, I think this is a beautiful thing. As kavasa said upthread, "This is love winning."
posted by bunderful at 5:38 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


To you, it was a baby step. To the baby it is a huge, mind-blowing step. Don't shout at the baby!

When a baby puts people's lives at risk you have to let him and his siblings know even if he says he is sorry. However, Portman is not a baby, and neither are the up and coming Republican politicians. They are cynical and respond to political pressures, which should not suggest bigotry can be excused with "I found Jesus!" like alcoholism or sex scandals. It requires action.

"Nobody is arguing for a free pass!"

...or that his support should be rejected. We pretty much seem to all agree he should be criticized AND praised. So let the criticism happen, it's okay.

the criticisms of this guy are ridiculous. this is a total freebie, a stroke of good fortune, and you guys are throwing it away. not smart at all. this didn't have to happen!! it's a huge bonus, totally unexpected.

It's not that huge. Much like Cheney, it's just a change on one personal issue which has so far not had any political consequence.

Praise him for it, sure, but at the end of the day the Democrats are going to try and politically destroy this man at his next election and will be entirely right to do so. Not just in the general, the party will do whatever they can under the radar to see him ousted in his Republican primary in favor of what will likely be a more bigoted opponent.

this is *exactly* what the tea party is busy doing, right now - rejecting potential allies for their lack of ideological purity.


The tea party rejects people in primary elections who disagree on one issue. For a liberal voter, this is rejecting someone for only agreeing on one.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:51 PM on March 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Remember that former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders was a hero when he changed his mind about marriage equality and revealed that his daughter is a lesbian. It's harder for someone like Portman to backpedal on this, especially when both his allies and his enemies are taking pot shots at him, but give him credit for doing the right thing today.

I hope that more in his party will find the courage to follow his example.
posted by Robert Angelo at 5:56 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


The tea party rejects people in primary elections who disagree on one issue. For a liberal voter, this is rejecting someone for only agreeing on one.

He's *not a liberal candidate*! You are not getting it.
posted by facetious at 5:58 PM on March 15, 2013


Drinky Die: " The tea party rejects people in primary elections who disagree on one issue. For a liberal voter, this is rejecting someone for only agreeing on one."

This, a thousand times, this. People have gotten so used to reactionary behavior by American conservatives that they get a free ride for their bigotry and selfishness. Meanwhile, liberals fail to adequately praise a Republican who flip-flops on gay marriage two years after his son comes out, and we're the ones who are being shrill and counterproductive.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:59 PM on March 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


He's *not a liberal candidate*! You are not getting it.

I don't think I'm the one confused about that.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:10 PM on March 15, 2013


Meanwhile, liberals fail to adequately praise ...


this right here is exactly where this discussion falls off the rails. who said anything about "praising" or "liking" this guy? It's got nothing to do with praise. Nobody cares who you praise. It means nothing.

Let me put it this way: if you reject this freebie, you have nothing. If you accept it, you have something you can work with. It's a bridgehead, a piece of the puzzle, a strategic chip, something you haven't thought of yet. Nobody *gives a fuck* if anybody thinks you're shrill or counterproductive, you're having the wrong conversation entirely.

You're talking about this guy like he is a prodigal son who's begging for your approval. Nobody cares about your approval! He's not on your side - if you reject this good fortune, he's still not on your side, and you've done nothing with the opportunity presented by having a political enemy do something that can be seen as conciliatory or even positive. Seriously, this is a political figure, not some guy you know.
posted by facetious at 6:10 PM on March 15, 2013


Let me put it this way: if you reject this freebie, you have nothing.

We have the majority of the American people, the President of the United States, a Supreme Court that may be ready to contribute as they stand, and demographic inevitability. We don't have significant need of a Senator who is going to endorse a potential Republican President who will attempt to delay progress on gay marriage for as long as possible.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:18 PM on March 15, 2013


It took me all day stewing about it, but I think I finally understand: Rob Portman references his son not to explain his change of heart, but to ask his fellow conservatives to excuse it. "I'm still one of you, really. But my son is my weak spot. You understand."
posted by gerryblog at 6:39 PM on March 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


Not that he deserves the Medal of Honor, but the OPed was actually quite thoughtful, in my opinion. Yes, it shouldn't have taken having a gay son for him to get to the correct result. But he actually processed this for some time, and came to a place where he was willingly to very publicly support gay marriage. One option was to say "son, I support you, but I just can't afford to be vocal about this issue. I won't publicly oppose gay marriage, but I also can't enthusiastically support it in the media." Lucky for us, he didn't go that route. And who knows, maybe he convinced one or two conservatives (or more!) that there's a place for gay rights in the Republican Party. I don't know about you, but today I witnessed the very first sitting R senator to come out in favor of gay marriage. And that was cool. Why all these years have we campaigned and protested and donated and talked and wrote and voted if we weren't actually trying to influence hearts and minds?
posted by murfed13 at 6:49 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


What freebie is this being offered exactly?
posted by Artw at 6:52 PM on March 15, 2013


Not that he deserves the Medal of Honor, but the OPed was actually quite thoughtful, in my opinion.

I have heard all of this constantly repeated since I can remember. And so has he. It has been said in congressional testimony many times. I don't expect him to come up with a new or novel argument, but I won't pretend that these arguments weren't made by gay people trying to convince conservatives since before he even got into office.

Look, I'm glad that 1% of the senate is now slightly less horrible, I even sent him a thank you for one of his aides to read. But he hasn't mentioned anything real, pledged to repeal DOMA, promised to co-sponsor ENDA, or anything else. So let's not pretend that he has done anything more than not tell his son to go fuck himself, because hating teh gay drives up conservative voter turn-out.
posted by Garm at 7:26 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't expect him to come up with a new or novel argument, but I won't pretend that these arguments weren't made by gay people trying to convince conservatives since before he even got into office.

That's awesome. I'm glad these arguments are permeating the conservative mainstream like they were intended to do.
posted by murfed13 at 10:21 PM on March 15, 2013


If nobody cares about our approval, why does it matter that we disapprove? If our praise is meaningless to the man, isn't our criticism as well?

No one is saying "reject his vote! force him to continue to be a bigot!" No one is saying Democrats shouldn't talk to him, or include him in future campaigns in support of SSM. We're just not all that impressed by his so-called ethical progress.

Since he doesn't care much about us Internet liberals, I take it we can continue being unimpressed without being accused of being the downfall of the American Left, just as you can continue being happy about this development without being insulted or dismissed.
posted by Phire at 11:41 PM on March 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


If I had to sum up my reaction to this, it would be "That is what it takes for you to make the right decision?"

I mean, sure, it's the right decision, but the guy only has so many kids. We can't possibly have sensible policymaking if our elected officials are unable to see people beyond those in their immediate emotional vicinity. There were a million gay sons out there that needed equal rights; the million-and-first changed Rob Portman's mind?

He is human, yes, but as someone setting policy for the entire country, we should absolutely be holding him to a standard that he is making his decisions based on the interests and rights of the entire country.
posted by 0xFCAF at 12:07 AM on March 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


Now if only one of the kids of these Senators came out being poor.
posted by DreamerFi at 1:55 AM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's the fundamental problem with the Republican party, 0xFCAF: an empathy deficit.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:27 AM on March 16, 2013


....I don't think I've had quite enough coffee yet to process the fact that I agree with wolfdreams about something.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:49 AM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rob Portman and the Politics of Narcissism
Rob Portman doesn't have a son with a pre-existing medical condition who's locked out of the health insurance market. Rob Portman doesn't have a son engaged in peasant agriculture whose livelihood is likely to be wiped out by climate change. Rob Portman doesn't have a son who'll be malnourished if SNAP benefits are cut. So Rob Portman doesn't care.

It's a great strength of the movement for gay political equality that lots of important and influential people happen to have gay children. That obviously does change people's thinking. And good for them.

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 how 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 us 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 him 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 that realizing an issue affects their own children changes their thinking.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:15 AM on March 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


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 him 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.


Right. But surely we all recognize that there are different theories of representation. One theory is that the elected rep should act according to the popular opinion of his constitutency, regardless of his own personal beliefs, in which case empathy would be meaningless. Interestingly, this past fall polls showed a majority in favor of same sex marriage in Ohio. I do wonder how much his change was truly animated by empathy and how much was helped along by the shifting tides, something in which all activists should be proud. Can you imagine him having empathy if 10% of people favored gay marriage? 20? 30? Seeing this solely as "empathy fail" vastly over-simplifies the nature of political representation in this country.
posted by murfed13 at 6:49 AM on March 16, 2013


One theory is that the elected rep should act according to the popular opinion of his constitutency, regardless of his own personal beliefs, in which case empathy would be meaningless.

Technically, as a member of the federal government, his constituency is the entire US, his state (and for the House, district) comes in second. And if you want an example of Rob Portman engaging in "empathy fail" in this way, voting against Hurricane Sandy relief after twice endorsing disaster relief in his home state is a good start.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:23 AM on March 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


....I don't think I've had quite enough coffee yet to process the fact that I agree with wolfdreams about something.

Yeah, you probably need more coffee if you think conservatives becoming angry if you point out their bigotry isn't the very definition of hurt fee-fees or that the most pragmatic way to make progress on gay marriage involves providing support to a Republican Senator who will vote for conservatives for the Supreme Court and will endorse a Republican President.

The most pragmatic course of action for gay rights, and the course of action Democrats are going to take, is to try and kick this man out of office as soon as possible. No need to go too easy on the criticism now and maybe get more centrists to vote for him.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:34 AM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]



Technically, as a member of the federal government, his constituency is the entire US

Yea, no. You should try reading the Federalist Papers some time.
posted by murfed13 at 7:38 AM on March 16, 2013


Drinky Die, let me ask you something -- do you want to change the opinions of those who oppose gay marriage?

I mean, if you think the answer to winning support for gay marriage is to vote out the elected officials that oppose it, fair enough. So sure, get 'em out if you like, but consider - they're gonna be replaced by someone.

And I suspect the people who vote them in won't be easily won around to the support of gay marriage if they hear people dismissing their opinions with the childishly inane expression "hurt fee-fees" over and over.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:54 AM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a queer woman with a conservative Republican father who loves me very much but does not support my right to marry, I've been very surprised by this thread. In particular, I've been surprised that some people see his change of heart as something motivated by selfishness or self-interest. There are plenty of people who oppose marriage equality even though they have children they love very much; they do not see same-sex marriage as being in their self-interest or their children's.

To come around on that takes a lot more than selfishness; it takes understanding of how marriage inequality affects other human beings. One way of getting there is to have people you know and care about, who actually are those other human beings affected by your decisions, explain it to you in terms you understand. Those conversations are hard, and hard work, for everyone involved.

When Portman came around, I celebrated it, in no small part because of what it means for people like my father. This is one more person making it more comfortable for people like him to reexamine their beliefs, and maybe even to change their minds. To me, that's an unmitigated good.

When my father finally comes around, and I know he will eventually, I'm going to celebrate it. The hurt of all the years that came before won't be gone, and the very real harm that he and people like him do through their support for the wrong side of this issue won't be gone, but I'm still going to celebrate, because the decision he makes that day will be an unmitigated good.

To be clear, people who have opposed marriage equality have hurt same-sex couples, and no one is under any obligation to forgive them for it. I don't judge anyone who doesn't. But for me, I'm just going to take this win, and celebrate it, and keep working for more like it - starting with one more, in particular. (Come on, Dad, you can do this. I know you can.)
posted by heisenberg at 8:07 AM on March 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Drinky Die, let me ask you something -- do you want to change the opinions of those who oppose gay marriage?

No, I oppose gay marriage and this is a secret sabotage. You got me!

And I suspect the people who vote them in won't be easily won around to the support of gay marriage if they hear people dismissing their opinions with the childishly inane expression "hurt fee-fees" over and over.

Okay, the totally logical, mature, and adult view that people shaming you for being a bigot means you should continue to be a bigot out of spite is a sub-optimal response. I will make sure to phrase that more carefully in the future because such people are clearly a massive base of potential liberal voters.

EC, would YOU vote for this guy? I have a little secret for you, when the Democrats do everything in their power to kick him out of office very soon that is going to send a much louder message about the consequences of his change of heart than literally anything any online liberal could say about his choices here.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:10 AM on March 16, 2013


No, I oppose gay marriage and this is a secret sabotage. You got me!

Actually, the alternative I was thinking of was "No, I just want to keep mocking them". Which, hey, great job so far.

Okay, the totally logical, mature, and adult view that people shaming you for being a bigot means you should continue to be a bigot out of spite is a sub-optimal response.

At least it's a better response than baby talk.

EC, would YOU vote for this guy? I have a little secret for you, when the Democrats do everything in their power to kick him out of office very soon that is going to send a much louder message about the consequences of his change of heart than literally anything any online liberal could say about his choices here.

And I have a little secret for you - Democrats aren't the only people who vote. And they don't appreciate being condescended to or mocked.

So, y'know, keep scolding people for not being liberal "the right way." I'll be over here humming Angry Young Man to myself.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:16 AM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Actually, the alternative I was thinking of was "No, I just want to keep mocking them". Which, hey, great job so far.

I mocked the specific idea of people turning back into bigots because people were mean to them, a not real thing someone brought up for why Portman can't be criticized and liberals always lose and are assholes.

You are twisting my words to hippy punch and it's lame.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:22 AM on March 16, 2013


I mocked the specific idea of people turning back into bigots because people were mean to them, a not real thing someone brought up for why Portman can't be criticized and liberals always lose and are assholes.

Then you missed my point.

If you (and I don't mean you personally, I mean anyone) mock Portman for joining the fight for gay marriage for "selfish" reasons, you run the risk of the people who voted him in writing everything you say off because, "boy, look at those assholes, they don't even like it when you SUPPORT them."

but you raise an interesting question - what exactly WOULD redeem Portman in your mind? I'm ever so curious.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:34 AM on March 16, 2013


Portman said he doesn't plan to "take a leadership role" if Ohio reconsiders gay marriage, and won't be signing any legal briefs on the Supreme Court cases, explaining that economic issues have always been his priority.

He's not exactly working overtime for that redemption.
posted by gerryblog at 9:01 AM on March 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


No, I didn't miss your point when I said that thing, I said that thing before our conversation even started in response to someone else and then you quoted it out of context and twisted the meaning to create a strawman about me mocking Portman.

If you (and I don't mean you personally, I mean anyone) mock Portman for joining the fight for gay marriage for "selfish" reasons, you run the risk of the people who voted him in writing everything you say off because, "boy, look at those assholes, they don't even like it when you SUPPORT them."


Whatever point you have to make about this has nothing to do with my comment about hurt feelings, which was mocking a hypothetical idea, not Portman.

There are multiple ways messages can be sent in politics and multiple potential risks here. That conservatives might think liberals are assholes for truthfully pointing out Portman's record and the personal nature behind his change of heart (the criticisms I am actually talking about) is a low risk. The type of voters who think so poorly of liberals are already likely conservatives and will not be voting for liberals anyway even if you convince them on one issue.

I think the risk that insufficient criticism leads to pro-gay marriage centrists voting for Portman instead of a Democrat is, at the absolute least, just as great a risk. I think that up and coming Republicans thinking they can get away with continuing to be bigots for now and then making a painless switch later is, at least, just as great a risk. And I know for a fact that Democrats are about to go all out to drive this man out of office and they will say a bunch of things that could make people think "they don't even like it when you SUPPORT them." as an essential part of the process. So, it's kind of a total waste of time to focus on the risk of the criticism right now. There are other risks, and the criticism is coming like a freight train during the election anyway.

but you raise an interesting question - what exactly WOULD redeem Portman in your mind? I'm ever so curious.


You should try to actually read my comments with an open mind instead of doing so only to try and find some way to attack me. I have already said he should be praised for his decision multiple times. I have said the path to making amends is the path Senator Byrd followed, backing up words with serious political action over years.

It's interesting to compare Portman to Obama. I criticized Obama for his words, taking the bigoted stance that gay marriage should not be legal. He was a unique case though, because he was already taking action to expand gay rights while in office. When he came out in support of gay marriage, his words and his actions were one. Portman is not there yet, and there is nothing wrong with pointing that out.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:02 AM on March 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Jimmy LaSalvia, GOProud Leader At CPAC: 'I'm Embarrassed To Be A Republican Right Now'
posted by Drinky Die at 9:07 AM on March 16, 2013


CPAC has been kind of fascinating - they're definatly making noises that they should maybe be a little more inclusive and that their current hardline stance on hating all minorities might not be a winner long term, on the other hand they are more than willing to shit the bed in public and roll around in it.
posted by Artw at 9:18 AM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


CPAC Diary: Jeb Bush is not "Anti-Everything"
posted by Artw at 9:32 AM on March 16, 2013


CPAC Diary: Jeb Bush is not "Anti-Everything"
Way too many people believe Republicans are anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-science, anti-gay, anti-worker and the list goes on and on
Huh, I wonder where they could have got that idea from.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:52 AM on March 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


if, as many have argued, it's "selfish" and "narcissitic" for Portman to switch his gay marriage view because he realized the effect discrimination will have on his gay son (and I don't disagree with that characterization), then the same must be true of others who attributed their switch on gay marriage to realizing that discrimination harms gay people close to them, as Obama did when explaining his switch.

- Glenn Greenwald
posted by dsfan at 10:09 AM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


A response to Greenwald:
...[T]here’s at least one difference between Portman and Obama on this specific issue: Portman did it because changing his position will lead to a clear and direct personal gain–his actual gay son might get an real benefit from the state based on his father’s position. As far as we know, Obama’s change in position gives him no such benefit. For you freshman logic fans, that’s the fallacy of equivocation. Glenn’s trying to say that one of Obama’s stated reasons (his empathy for friends and staff who are gay) is the same thing as Portman’s (a real parental interest in the outcome of the debate).

That doesn’t invalidate Glenn’s whole argument–as I said above, he’s mostly right that Portman and Obama engaged in political calculation. But Portman’s political calculation was essentially random–lighting struck in the form of a gay son, so Portman changed one single position, while he holds on to his others. Obama has been slowly marching towards gay rights, perhaps too slowly, but his movement is based on a set of coherent, consistent political beliefs that might not be radical enough for Glenn but are certainly going to do more for gay rights than sitting around waiting for more lightning strikes.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:20 AM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Glenn Greenwald would certainly know about narcissism.
posted by Artw at 10:22 AM on March 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Kinda thin. There is more personal interest in promoting policy to benefit your family but there is also some to doing something to benefit your friends. Different in degree, but the same sort of thing.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:25 AM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or in promoting policy to benefit your political goals. The writing is on the wall, in 10-foot, bold, all-caps letters: one either gets aboard this train, or one is an irrelevant, failed footnote in political history.

Obama is on the train, perhaps not so much because he's empathetic to equality issues—else he'd have been on-board from a young age—but because the future is inevitable and being contrary is suicide.

I am beginning to be hopeful that this next generation, our current teenagers, are going to fully embrace "Ain't Nobodies Business If You Do". (Look it up).
posted by five fresh fish at 1:54 PM on March 16, 2013


Charles Murray Urges the G.O.P. to Accept Gay Marriage
posted by caryatid at 8:33 PM on March 16, 2013


"For you freshman logic fans, that’s the fallacy of equivocation."

This applies to 80 percent of Greenwald's columns.
posted by klangklangston at 9:49 PM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Senator changes views after son comes out as corporation
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:39 AM on March 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Fox News Virtually Ignores Portman’s Evolution On Marriage Equality
posted by homunculus at 11:17 AM on March 17, 2013


John Boehner "Can't Imagine" Ever Supporting Gay Marriage
posted by palomar at 2:06 PM on March 17, 2013


Selwyn Duke | American Thinker:
"In another case in the annals of conservative 'adaptation' to yesterday's liberal innovation, Ohio Republican senator Rob Portman has just announced that he now supports faux marriage. The change was motivated, he said, by his son having come out to him and his wife as a homosexual. Well, it's a good thing his son didn't announce that he was involved in bestiality. Talk about a pandering parent."
posted by ericb at 2:24 PM on March 17, 2013


Conservatives Target Portman's Gay Son For "Harmful Choices" That Will "Kill Him From AIDS"

Ugh. Stay classy, "family values" loudmouths.
posted by palomar at 2:35 PM on March 17, 2013


WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)— The decision of Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to support same-sex marriage after learning that his son was gay has inspired hundreds of other Republican lawmakers to stop speaking to their children immediately, G.O.P. leaders confirmed today. (satire)
posted by Drinky Die at 2:47 PM on March 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


NRO: Gay Marriage Gains Ground - "Those who oppose it fear it will weaken the institution of marriage. But so far I haven’t seen evidence that extending marriage to the 3 or 4 percent who are gay has weakened the institution nearly as much as the much larger number of Americans who get divorced or have children without getting married at all."

National Journal: How To Shrink The Dangerous Republican Empathy Gap
What recent event is going to be more defining for the Republican Party, Sen. Rob Portman’s about-face on gay marriage or the strident rhetoric of the Conservative Political Action Conference? The GOP ought to pray it’s the former and hope it keeps the party’s empathy gap from turning into the Grand Canyon.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:20 PM on March 17, 2013


In a hilarious letter to the editor in the Star Tribune, the writer argues that the whole reason to prevent homosexuals from having equal rights in marriage is that it is an abus de langage.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:13 AM on March 18, 2013


NRO: Gay Marriage Gains Ground

The same NRO, by the way, who has the president of NOM as a long-time regular contributor. This is their semi-annual sop to appear as if they're not the crazy homophobes that they are the rest of the year.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:16 AM on March 18, 2013


Just, you know, don't read the comments under that NRO piece. Kicking and screaming all the way....
posted by rtha at 9:31 AM on March 18, 2013


GOP report calls for sweeping reforms to compete in 2016
... The report also notes a growing generational divide on the issue of gay rights, calling the issue a "gateway" for young voters deciding whether to align with the GOP.
From the report:
For the GOP to appeal to younger voters, we do not have to agree on every issue, but we do need to make sure young people do not see the Party as totally intolerant of alternative points of view. Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be.
...

If we believe our policies are the best ones to improve the lives of the American people, all the American people, our candidates and office holders need to do a better job talking in normal, people-oriented terms and we need to go to communities where Republicans do not normally go to listen and make our case. We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate we care about them, too. We must recruit more candidates who come from minority communities. But it is not just tone that counts. Policy always matters.
posted by ericb at 9:54 AM on March 18, 2013


N. Carolina church stops performing straight weddings until gay marriage becomes legal: Church leaders are protesting the "injustice in the legal position of state government" on marriage equality
posted by homunculus at 1:03 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Senator Portman Experiences Hunger; Now Opposes Spending Cuts
posted by homunculus at 9:56 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Will Portman, Senator's Gay Son, Criticized By Conservatives After Dad's Gay Marriage Reversal.
posted by ericb at 12:11 PM on March 20, 2013


Phyllis Schlafly: RNC Should 'Ignore' Rob Portman.
posted by ericb at 12:13 PM on March 20, 2013


The Twenty-First Century: Decent Human Beings Should "Ignore" Phyllis Schlafly
posted by scody at 1:12 PM on March 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


And decent websites shouldn't give her any exposure.

Oh, it's the HuffPo, doing things for clicks that make crack addicts say "Dang, I though I had lost all self respect."
posted by benito.strauss at 2:12 PM on March 20, 2013


Support for gay marriage is picking up steam all over the country — except on Capitol Hill.

Take Sen. Saxby Chambliss. When asked if his views had changed on gay marriage, the Georgia Republican quipped: “I’m not gay. So I’m not going to marry one.”

posted by Drinky Die at 10:38 AM on March 21, 2013


Cool, Saxby. Then you're not gonna stand in the way of anyone else marrying the person they love?

Oh, sorry. Thought you'd thought that one through.
posted by klangklangston at 10:43 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gay Marriage Polls Find Personal Relationships Have Major Impact On Support.
posted by ericb at 1:00 PM on March 21, 2013


Millennial Support For Gay Marriage Hits All-Time High.
posted by ericb at 1:01 PM on March 21, 2013


Young Opponents Of Gay Marriage Remain Undaunted.
posted by ericb at 1:04 PM on March 21, 2013


Rush To The Altar: Big Names Dash To Back Gay Marriage -- "Politicians, business leaders, athletes and others are racing to support gay rights before the Supreme Court holds landmark arguments next week."
posted by ericb at 1:05 PM on March 21, 2013


In related news: Dad's Note To Gay Son About Coming Out Might Make You Cry.

And, this might, too.

Heard on the Subway: Talking about your gay sons.
posted by ericb at 1:25 PM on March 21, 2013 [9 favorites]


Guy #2: I guess you’re right. But damn Charlie, we both have gay kids. What do we do now? Both our sons are gay.
Guy #1: We don’t do anything. We let em be gay and if some kid calls em a faggot we go to their house and raise hell with the parents like normal.


Awesome.
posted by rtha at 1:33 PM on March 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Heh. It can be a hard impulse to resist the "I'm going to hook all of my gay friends up with each other!" thing. (Or in this case, I'm gonna hook my gay son up with my buddy's gay son.)
posted by klangklangston at 1:40 PM on March 21, 2013


It can be a hard impulse to resist the "I'm going to hook all of my gay friends up with each other!" thing.

There was actually a cute story I read on this service-industry stories-about-the-public blog - a guy who was serving a classic grandmotherly little-old-lady type, who kept sweetly insisting that her granddaughter was single and he thought they'd make a cute couple, and she'd be happy to introduce them. The clerk was trying to discourage her as politely as he could, but finally told her the truth - "Ma'am, thank you, but I'm gay."

And the little old lady just blinked a couple times, then smiled just as sweetly and said, "Well, my grandson's single too, would you like his number?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:58 PM on March 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


Think Progress:

STEIN: On the issue of inconclusivity. What would you tell an independent minded gay man who believes the right to marry is a civil right? What would you tell him about why he should vote Republican?

PRIEBUS: I would tell him, look, we might not agree on every single issue but, for the most part, if you look at where we are at in our economy and look at where we are with educational choice and our military positions and positions on a strong defense in our party for the most part, we agree on almost everything and doesn’t make someone a bad Republican. It means we are good Republicans and disagree on one or two things. My God, I don’t agree with my wife on 100 percent of the issues but it doesn’t mean we don’t have a great marriage.


*Price is Right sad loser horn*
posted by Drinky Die at 10:46 AM on March 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


SCOTUSblog Founder Explains What to Watch for From The Supreme Court Next Week on Prop 8. and DOMA.
posted by ericb at 2:43 PM on March 22, 2013


Will Portman for the Yale Daily News on his coming out experience.
posted by Phire at 5:56 AM on March 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not looking forward to the coverage of the SCOTUS cases over the next few days. KQED's California Report did a longish piece last week that I started to listen to on my drive home, but I had to turn off when they were interviewing someone from NOM because road rage is very bad and he was making me have it.
posted by rtha at 6:34 AM on March 25, 2013


Matt Salmon, GOP Congressman, Does Not Support Gay Marriage Despite Having Gay Son
posted by homunculus at 6:10 PM on April 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honey, we’re praying for you
posted by homunculus at 6:13 PM on April 1, 2013


Several years later, when I finally came out, Mom broke her silence on the subject. “It would be easier to go to your funeral than to know you are going to spend the night with that man.”

Shit people say to their kids. Fuck.
posted by rtha at 6:29 PM on April 1, 2013


WASHINGTON - Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, said Monday that he supports same-sex marriage, reversing his position and joining a long line of Democrats who have changed their minds on an issue that has seen a rapid shift in public opinion.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:57 PM on April 1, 2013


Several years later, when I finally came out, Mom broke her silence on the subject. “It would be easier to go to your funeral than to know you are going to spend the night with that man.”

Shit people say to their kids. Fuck.


Self-loathing, once removed.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:49 AM on April 2, 2013


"Traditional" Marriage isn't One Man, One Woman. It's One Man and One Other Man's Property
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:59 PM on April 2, 2013


"Will Portman for the Yale Daily News on his coming out experience."

This is an excellent article that really beautifully ties this thread together.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:01 AM on April 3, 2013


Mark Sanford: No Gays on the Appalachian Trail
posted by homunculus at 1:17 PM on April 3, 2013


Gay Marriage Derangement Syndrome
A majority of Americans now approve of gay marriage for two fairly simple reasons. First, most Americans understand marriage as symbolic affirmation of a dissolvable commitment between consenting adults for purposes of emotional gratification. Second, an increasing number of Americans have come to know gay people in their own lives as beloved relatives, respected colleagues, or honored authorities rather than icons of flamboyance or specters of perversion. If you understand marriage in this sense, which has been socially dominant for decades, there is no plausible argument for denying it to gay individuals one loves and respects. As Rob Portman has discovered, the rest is reasoning from the particular to the general.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:10 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


...rather than icons of flamboyance or specters of perversion.

Of course, only fools ever saw them this way.
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:04 PM on April 4, 2013


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