Tagged: pro-LGBT politicians

Ohio’s Portman Becomes First Sitting GOP Senator to Support Marriage Equality

rob_portmanLast night, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, a conservative Republican and 2012 GOP vice presidential frontrunner, announced that he was reversing his longtime and outspoken opposition to same-sex marriage and coming out as a supporter of marriage equality. In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Dana Bash, Portman revealed that his change of heart was brought about by his 21-year-old son Will, who came out to his parents as gay two years ago.

Watch:

Portman’s surprising reversal makes him the first sitting Republican senator in history to support the freedom to marry. It is additionally significant because during his time in the U.S. House of Representatives (1993-2005), Portman voted to support the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 and a proposed constitutional marriage discrimination amendment in 2004.

Only two sitting House Republicans, Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Richard Hanna of New York, have come out in support of marriage equality, according to a report from BuzzFeed‘s Chris Geidner. The two representatives signed on to a Supreme Court brief filed last month arguing that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.

In an op-ed published today by the Columbus Dispatch, Portman explained that his son’s coming-out initiated a soul-searching reexamination of his deeply held spiritual beliefs:

Two years ago, my son Will, then a college freshman, told my wife, Jane, and me that he is gay. He said he’d known for some time, and that his sexual orientation wasn’t something he chose; it was simply a part of who he is. Jane and I were proud of him for his honesty and courage. We were surprised to learn he is gay but knew he was still the same person he’d always been. The only difference was that now we had a more complete picture of the son we love.

At the time, my position on marriage for same-sex couples was rooted in my faith tradition that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman. Knowing that my son is gay prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective: that of a dad who wants all three of his kids to lead happy, meaningful lives with the people they love, a blessing Jane and I have shared for 26 years.

I wrestled with how to reconcile my Christian faith with my desire for Will to have the same opportunities to pursue happiness and fulfillment as his brother and sister. Ultimately, it came down to the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.

You know, Sen. Portman’s journey to embracing his LGBT child and publicly advocating for his son’s rights reminds me an awful lot of the journey my own parents took after I came out to them in 2003. It just goes to show that, as Harvey Milk said, coming out is the single most important thing LGBT people can do in the struggle for our civil rights and human dignity. Our community owes a debt of gratitude to Will Portman for courageously revealing his truth to his parents and giving them the opportunity to love him in the fullness of his identity.

will_rob_portmanThank you Will, and thank you, Senator Portman, for coming out for marriage equality. In 2013, stating one’s belief in basic fairness for all loving and committed couples shouldn’t have to be an act of bravery, but in today’s Republican Party it absolutely (and tragically) still is. I hope that Portman’s colleagues, several of whom are rumored to be privately supportive of same-sex marriage, will follow his courageous example and make that support known publicly. I also hope that the Senator’s evolution on LGBT issues will continue even further, and that his next major reversal will be that of his longstanding opposition to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — because in addition to the freedom to marry, his gay son deserves to be free from discrimination in hiring and at work.

Senator Portman and I disagree on nearly every issue, but on the fundamental right of all Americans to marry the person they love, I’m proud to say that we stand side by side.

Study: Pro-Equality Legislators Overwhelmingly Win Re-Election

rainbow_americanflagFreedom to Marry, a national marriage equality organization, and Third Way, a moderate policy think tank, released a memo yesterday outlining the results of an election analysis which reveals that state lawmakers who vote for marriage equality overwhelmingly win re-election.

The groups analyzed 2012 election results in the two states that legalized same-sex marriage in 2011-2012, New York and Washington. When they crunched the numbers, they found that pro-equality legislators running for re-election won their races 97% of the time, notably higher than the national 2012 average of 90%.

Statistics like these really take the wind out of the sails of the so-called National Organization for Marriage, which issues angry press releases every time a new state passes marriage equality threatening to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars unseating Republicans who vote for the freedom to marry.

Jon Cowan, president of Third Way, said in a press release:

The 2012 election illustrated that moderate Americans have largely completed their journey on this issue and now see a lawmaker’s support for marriage as a reason to vote for, not against, that candidate. This latest comprehensive study of the fate of state legislators who voted for marriage makes evident that pro-marriage legislators of both parties can win in districts that span the regional and ideological spectrum.

I wonder: when, pray tell, will the Republican Party get the memo on this?

WATCH: Stirring Video Outlines President’s Pro-LGBT Accomplishments

obama_romneyIf you haven’t already seen it, you should definitely take five minutes to check out the stirring video below. Narrated by Jane Lynch, the fabulously out comedian and star of Glee, it reviews President Obama’s long list of accomplishments on behalf of the LGBT community, from expanding health hospital visitation rights and participating in the It Gets Better Project to repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and becoming the first sitting president in American history to embrace marriage equality.

Come to think of it, even if you have already seen this video — watch it again. And watch it several times between now and November 6. We all should — we can never allow ourselves to forget just how important this upcoming election is for the LGBT community.

UPDATE: New Zealand Marriage Equality Bill Clears First Hurdle

new_zealandYesterday, I wrote about how an anti-gay New Zealand politician was persuaded to change his vote on an upcoming marriage equality bill by the youth of his party, who threatened to withdraw their support if he did not do so.

Little did I know that less than 24 hours later, there would be new news to report! From the Associated Press:

New Zealand lawmakers on Wednesday overwhelmingly cast a first vote in favor of a gay marriage [sic] law that was given impetus by President Barack Obama’s public support of the issue.

The 80 to 40 vote in front of a packed and cheering public gallery was the first of three votes Parliament must take before the bill can become law, a process that typically takes several months and allows the public to weigh in. Only a simple majority was needed to ensure a second vote, and the margin is a strong indication that the law will be passed.

Should New Zealand pass the measure into law, it would become the 12th country since 2001 to recognize same-sex marriages. Some states in the U.S. also recognize such marriages, but the federal government does not.

The AP report indicates that marriage equality enjoys overwhelming public support in New Zealand:

Polls indicate about two-thirds of New Zealanders support gay marriage [sic]. It also has the support of most of the country’s political leaders.

new_zealand_marriageequalityThe country currently allows same-sex couples to enter into civil unions that grant some, but not all, the rights of marriage. The proposed law, however, would give same-sex couples equal status and equal rights, including the right to jointly adopt children.

And as previously stated, there is a direct connection between the introduction of a marriage equality law in New Zealand and President Obama’s historic endorsement of marriage equality in May:

The proposed changes here can be directly traced back to Obama’s declaration in May in support of gay marriage [sic]. That prompted center-right Prime Minister John Key to break his long silence on the issue by saying he was “not personally opposed” to the idea. Then lawmaker Louisa Wall, from the opposition Labour Party, put forward a bill she had previously drafted.

“If I’m really honest, I think the catalyst was around Obama’s announcement, and then obviously our prime minister came out very early in support, as did the leader of my party, David Shearer,” Wall told The Associated Press. “The timing was right.”

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: one of the most important things that equality supporters can do for the LGBT civil rights movement is to volunteer for, donate to, and vote for pro-LGBT candidates. As these latest developments in New Zealand demonstrate, it makes a very real difference not just here at home, but on the other side of the world.