Personalizing social justice
Ohio Senator Rob Portman has reversed his position on same-sex marriage in light of his son's coming out as gay.
"It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective, and that's of a Dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have -- to have a relationship like Jane and I have had for over 26 years," Portman told reporters in an interview at his office.
Bravo, Sen. Portman. Kudos for being a loving father who learns from his kids.
I've seen this phenomenon before. People oppose certain things (e.g. homosexuality, gay marriage, polyamory) until one of their children embraces it. Then, suddenly, it's okay.
It's too bad that they can't arrive at that position in the absence of a family member forcing them to reevaluate their attitudes.
Perhaps so...but at least he *did* change his views...he didn't reject his son and hold tight to bigotry. However the change happened, it was a good thing.
If I were speaking to him personally, I'd praise him as you are doing. And you're right that he could have been so hide-bound as to reject his son.
But, as it is, I'll share nkcmike's dismay that his compassionate side wasn't capable of being moved by other people or by their beloved children.
It's a very Republican thing, and it shows up a lot in expending money on medical research. Pete Domenici supported spending on cystic fibrosis, I think it was, because his niece had it. Nancy Reagan turned around and supported stem cell research once it was shown to be of potential help to Alzheimer's patients. And so forth.
It's a very Republican thing...
Frankly, I think it's a very human thing.
Some of us humans are able to see the joy or sorrow in something without direct connections to us. But others are not - many, many others. And, as Eve noted below, "The personal is political."
No, there's a real difference between the political parties here. Democrats are usually able to show sympathy and empathy for needy and suffering people who are not their personal relatives; this is why Democrats support things like same-sex marriage and medical research without having to undergo born-again-like conversions. It's the characteristic that enables Republicans to denounce them as enabling the sponging of moochers, and the very fact that Republicans can say such a thing shows just what sort of Samaritans they'd be (hint: not the good kind).
You almost never see Democrats doing that (I won't say never because I'm sure there are exceptions). Republicans lack empathy.
I have to agree with Laurie. I think there are many, many more Democrats who support rights for people independently of whether they know anyone who fits in the category in question.
I give Portman *some* points for not saying "My son is dead to me" or trying to keep his support very private, but not a full set of points for having to wait until this issue affected his own son before seeing the inequality.
Those of us who lived through the women's liberation movement of the 60s & 70s know "The personal is political". A father of daughters may change his perspective and become pro-choice, a woman threatened by an ex may come out strongly for gun ownership for personal protection, and now we're seeing it with gay rights.
I agree with George Will, who said the opposition to gay marriage is "quite literally, dying". There was a piece on NPR today where young conservatives said the older generation needs to understand that for them, gay marriage is a family value they support. Really interesting dynamics in play right now.
"The personal is political"...
Exactly. And the more people meet good role models, the more likely they are to associate those role models with an entire class or group of people.
There was a piece on NPR today where young conservatives said the older generation needs to understand that for them, gay marriage is a family value they support.
In fact, in the under-50 crowd, support for same-sex marriage increases the younger the surveyed group of adults is. Sometimes, those kids are so damned smart. :-)
Recently released new analysis of exit polls conducted by pollsters representing both political parties found that opposition to marriage equality is concentrated in a few specific population groups: voters over the age of 65, white evangelical Christians, and white voters who do not have a college degree. All non-evangelicals, including other white Protestants, white Catholics, Hispanic Catholics, African American non-evangelicals and Jewish voters, support marriage equality by double-digit margins.