A little over a week after Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, became the nation's highest-ranking Republican lawmaker to publicly back same-sex marriage, his son, Will, is opening up about his experience coming out and his dad's evolution on marriage equality.
The Ohio senator, who was a top contender to be Mitt Romney's running mate in the 2012 election, was long known to be a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage. After all, he co-sponsored the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which explicitly defined marriage as between one man and one woman.
But as the Supreme Court gears up to hear arguments in a challenge of DOMA this week, a number of politicians -- including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. -- have publicly announced a change in heart when it comes to marriage equality. For Sen. Portman, the issue was personal. His son had come out two years earlier, and the experience had influenced his beliefs.
"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," he wrote in an op-ed announcing his decision.
This morning, Will Portman published a column in the Yale Daily News telling his side of the story, both in coming out to his parents and watching his dad evolve on the issue of same-sex marriage - as well as the personal implications for himself.
"It has been strange to have my personal life in the headlines. I could certainly do without having my sexual orientation announced on the evening news, or commentators weighing in to tell me things like living my life honestly and fully is 'harmful to [me] and society as a whole,'" he wrote. "But in many ways it's been a privilege to come out so publicly. Now, my friends at Yale and the folks in my dad's political orbit in Ohio are all on the same page. They know two things about me that I'm very proud of, not just one or the other: that I'm gay, and that I'm Rob and Jane Portman's son."
Will Portman expressed his own support for same-sex marriage -- "because I believe that everybody should be treated the same way and have the same shot at happiness" - and added that he's "psyched" his father is on the same page with him.
"I'm proud of my dad, not necessarily because of where he is now on marriage equality (although I'm pretty psyched about that), but because he's been thoughtful and open-minded in how he's approached the issue, and because he's shown that he's willing to take a political risk in order to take a principled stand," the younger Portman wrote. "He was a good man before he changed his position, and he's a good man now, just as there are good people on either side of this issue today."