A number of prominent Republicans today said they still oppose same-sex marriage, even after Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, became the latest Republican to undergo a change of heart on the issue.
Portman, a co-sponsor of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), late last night that he now supports same-sex marriage after learning his son is gay.
Portman called House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to talk about the issue. "Senator Portman is a great friend and ally and the Speaker respects his position, but the speaker continues to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman," Boehner's spokesman Michael Steel said today.
At the Conservative Political Action Conference today, former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., known for his very conservative views on social issues, said that Portman's position doesn't change the definition of marriage.
"The bottom line is that marriage is a foundational institution," he told CBS News. "Marriage is a thing of nature... No other relationship -- you can call it marriage -- but no other relationship accomplishes what real marriage accomplishes... If marriage just is two people loving each other, or three or four people loving each other, then you can call anything marriage... Just because people change their mind doesn't make it any less so."
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins commended Portman for his "unconditional love" for his son but said that policy positions should not be based on emotion.
"Regardless of a child's choices, the love of a parent can and should be a guiding beacon in the lives of their sons and daughters," he said in a statement. "Unconditional love, however, does not mean unconditional support in choices that are both harmful to them and society as a whole. This is especially true when we approach public policy. Our unconditional love for our children should not override the historical and social science evidence which makes abundantly clear what is best for all children and for society - being raised by a married mother and father."
The White House, meanwhile, said that Portman's change of heart is part of a shift in opinion happening nationwide.
"I think what is clear is that we are witnessing a pretty significant sociological shift in this country that's happening at a pretty rapid pace, and it's happening right before our eyes in a way that says a lot about our country -- that we have a country where we prioritize equality and fairness," White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.
He said he had not spoken to President Obama about Portman's position but that the president "certainly welcomes anyone who is willing to step forward and say that they share the president's commitment to fairness and equality in this country."