Tonawanda News

March 26, 2013

LEFFLER: Portman announcement braver than Clinton's

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Last week’s column on gay marriage — particularly on Hillary Clinton’s relatively late-to-the-party support of gay marriage — got a lot of feedback.

Not only has there been a lot of feedback on the column itself, there’s been a lot of news on the topic in the last week. And there seems to have been a lot of news on the topic every week for the last … forever.

As I write this column, gay marriage is the top news story on my Google News feed. There are stories about the Supreme Court, Justice Antonin Scalia, the state of Ohio, Starbucks, and a variety of pols who have recently come out in favor of gay marriage.

Over the weekend, former GOP poster boy and brain Karl Rove said he imagines that the Republican nominee for president in 2016 could be someone that supports gay marriage, simply as a sign that the pendulum is swinging in that direction.

As I mentioned last week, 58 percent of Americans have recently voiced support for same-sex marriage. That means that some self-described Republicans must be in that crowd. One such self-described Republican is Ohio Congressman Robert Portman, who recently changed his tune — very publicly — on the topic of same-sex marriage, largely due to the fact that his 21-year-old son is gay.

Some have said that Portman’s reversal is a selfish one … and a sign that the GOP remains out of touch with the real world. Unless it affects them directly, they don’t care, it’s been said.

I think that’s more of a humanity thing than a GOP thing, though. It’s also the reason that support for same-sex marriage is increasing. According to a CNN/ORC International survey, 57 percent of respondents say they have a family member or close friend who is gay or lesbian. That number is 12 points higher than six years ago.

I’d also like to point out that there are a number of fathers (and mothers) who find out that their sons (and daughters) are gay, but who don’t come around on the topic. Fortunately, though, those numbers are thinning.

Rob Portman isn’t just any dad, either, as indicated by the first reference of “Ohio Congressman Robert Portman.” His position dictates certain things. And his party affiliation dictates things as well. At least it did until now.

Frankly I’m just as impressed with Rob Portman’s decision to “come out” in support of gay marriage as I was unimpressed with Hillary Clinton’s.

Clinton was one of the last Democrats to support what has essentially been a Democrat position. She was the final lemming, if you will. Portman, however, is one of the first Republicans to support what is about to become a human issue. He is a leader among his kind.

Scott Leffler is neither Democrat, Republican, nor lemming. He was for gay marriage way before it was cool. Tweet your support (or vitriol) @scottleffler.