Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio says he now supports gay marriage because one of his sons is gay.
Portman told reporters Thursday in Washington that his views began changing in 2011 when his college-age son Will told his parents he was gay.
Portman says he reconsidered gay marriage from a different perspective, one of a father who wants all three of his children to have happy lives with people they love.
He says he discussed the issue with his pastor and others, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, whose daughter is a lesbian.
Citizens for Community Values Pastoral Liaison Dr. Kent Spann said while he understands the issue has become personal for Portman, it shouldn't change his political opinion.
"The truth of the position is still that marriage should be between one man and one woman. And that doesn't have anything to do with whether you love your child or not, you can still love your child and hold your values,” said Spann.
As a member of the House of Representatives in 1996, Portman voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman and bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage.
Equality Ohio Executive Director Elyzabeth Holford said Portman captured the issue facing many Ohioans, bringing personal beliefs in line with our politics.
“We all find our comfort level with issues when we find them, and there is nothing wrong with a father showing his love for his family and for his son and discovering that things aren't equal, and that's not O.K,” said Holford.
The organization that backs bringing a marriage equality amendment to Ohio reacted to the news.
“The honorable U.S. Sen. Portman is the first Republican member of the United States Senate to endorse the freedom to marry, but we believe he will not be the last,” said Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder.
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