Friday, March 15, 2013


So I guess this is what we're all talking about this morning:
Sen. Rob Portman has renounced his opposition to gay marriage, telling reporters from Ohio newspapers yesterday that he changed his position after his son Will told him and his wife, Jane, that he is gay.

Portman, an Ohio Republican, made the stunning revelation just a week before the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments on a 1996 federal law asserting that gay marriage is not legal, a measure that Portman co-sponsored as a member of the U.S. House.

But like former President Bill Clinton, who signed the law, Portman now wants Congress to invalidate the law’s declaration that marriage is between a man and a woman. Instead, Portman said he would prefer that it be left to the states to decide the definition of marriage.
Well, it's good -- though let's acknowledge that Portman is claiming the self-interest exemption to right-wing orthodoxy, which is always allowed.

I'll quote what I wrote last April, when Marco Rubio came out in favor of a lite version of the DREAM Act:
Republicans want their politicians to be hardcore, but if you're a GOP pol, you get a pass on certain issues if they affect a group of which you're a member. That's why John McCain, a torture victim, was able to get away with saying that waterboarding is torture. That's why Dick Cheney, father of a lesbian, was able to get away with positive words about gay marriage. That's why, more recently, the usually extremely hardcore congressman Allen West, an African-American, was able to get away with expressing outrage at the death of Trayvon Martin.

These carve-outs for Republicans basically track with right-wing thinking about empathy: If an issue doesn't affect you personally, or an affinity group of yours, why should you give a crap about how it affects other people?

So Rubio, as a Hispanic, can support a version of the DREAM Act. But the vast majority of the party, and especially the crazy base, is no more likely to go along with him than it is to go along with McCain on torture or Cheney on gay marriage.
If current officeholders in the GOP start declaring their support for marriage equality just because they think it's the right thing to do, then I'll be really impressed.


Unknown said...

You can add Orrin Hatch (stem cells/Parkinson's) and Pete Domenici (mental health funding OJ b/c of daughter's schizophrenia) and a few on disaster relief (Peter King after Sandy).

I call them "Ox is Gored: Republicans.

Victor said...

Ah, yes!
How boring...

Yet another hypocritical Republican/Conservative convert - whose conversion is due solely to how something now affects that converts self, or family.

For years: Make other people's gay sons and daughters, and their families, lives miserable, by denying them rights?
Denying gay's rights is the right thing to do!
'Cause, Jesus says, and family values, and votes!!!

Now: Find out your son or daughter is gay, and it might make your child and your family miserable, by denying gay's rights?
Marriage equality is now the right thing to do!
'Cause now Jesus tells him it's ok, gays have family values too, and - VOTES!!!

If every dollar disappears from a rich person, just watch how quickly that person becomes the biggest advocate for "The Poor" anyone's ever seen!

Sarah C. said...

That this is what passes for empathy is really sickening.

That said, I'd leave Dick Cheney off the list of those using the "self-interest exemption" because, well, I don't recall him really using it at all. Not supporting the federal marriage amendment was a nice, useless gesture but he never did anything about, oh, same-sex visitation rights in hospitals, employment non-discrimination, or supporting marriage on the state level. For that matter, to this day, he didn't even sign onto the amicus brief filed by the 100-some other Republicans to the Supreme Court in the same-sex marriage cases. About the only thing he's done is refrain from ranting about gays, unlike his BFF Scalia. No, I wouldn't say Cheney deserves credit even for the very limited form of compassion Rob Portman has shown.