An about-face on same-sex marriage

Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is pictured on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in this November 21, 2011 file photo.

(CBS News) Elliot Richardson, who served in four cabinet posts in the Nixon and Ford administrations, once said, "Where we stand depends on where we sit."

Ronald Reagan brought it even closer to home when he said that most great change begins at the dinner table.

So it was that conservative Republican Senator Rob Portman, who has opposed gay marriage in the past, stunned Washington by saying he now favored it.

His reason: his son had told him he was gay, and he wanted his son to have the same rights as anyone else.

In doing so, Portman became the first sitting Republican to take that position, which caused some in his party to cringe -- and brought an undercurrent of criticism from some on the left who said, "It's about time."

Portman said he had never thought much about gay marriage until now, but personal experience often makes yesterday's disinterested observers tomorrow's champions of a cause.

People can have differing views on what constitutes marriage, but wanting a fair shake for your kid is as about as good a reason to take a public position as I can think of.

It is, after all, the principle on which this nation was founded.

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    Bob Schieffer is a CBS News political contributor and former anchor of "Face The Nation," which he moderated for 24 years before retiring in 2015.