March 18th, 2013
Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said that, unlike Sen. Rob Portman(R-OH), who announced that he now supports marriage equality after his son came out to him as gay, Boehner said that he “can’t imagine” ever changing his opposition to same-sex marriage:
I believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” Boehner said on ABC News’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” “It’s — it’s what I grew up with. It’s what I believe. It’s what my church teaches me. And — I can’t imagine that position would ever change.”
…”Listen, Rob’s a great friend and a long-time ally. And — I appreciate that he’s decided to change — his views on this. But I believe that marriage is a union of — of a man and a woman, said Boehner.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) also spoke on the issue. McCain had opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment, but only because he believed that it would have infringed on states’ rights. He voiced support for California’s Prop 8 and Arizona’s Prop 102 in 2008 as he ran for President. On Friday, McCain told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he wouldn’t be changing his mind on marriage equality anytime soon:
“I respect anyone else’s decision and we all learn in life and grow and mature. I have changed my position on other issues in my life, but on this one, I had not contemplated changing my position,” he said.
So that brings me to this point: For the life of me, I will never understand, not in a million years, the hectoring and anger from some in the gay community that greeted Portman’s change of position. Look, I’m as dyed-blue big-D Democrat as they come. If I were an Ohio resident, I’d never vote for the man, donate to his campaign, or encourage anyone else to vote for him. I wouldn’t rush out to throw him a parade, but if the Columbus Pride organizing committee wants to make him Grand Marshal, I wouldn’t object.
But that said, any time someone — anyone — who once opposed marriage quality and changes his position, that’s one person less working against us. You’d think the implications of that would be obvious, but since it apparently isn’t I’ll spell it out. All of the legislative and electoral gains have come about because people who actively opposed us stopped doing that, and some of them now support us. Look at Maine: In 2009, voters there shot down marriage quality 53% to 47%. In three short years, six percent of Maine’s voters pulled a Portman; they switched form opposing marriage equality to supporting it, and voters approved it by the same 53% to 47% margin that they voted it down three years before.
Was Portman “selfish” for supporting same-sex marriage only after his son came out to him? Maybe. Probably. But more importantly, who the hell care? Should we poll Maine’s electorate and throw out the “selfish” votes there also? Of course not, because in politics a win is a win. And we win every time someone changes from opposing us to supporting us. Or even, as a half measure, goes from opposing us to not opposing us — that’s a half-win in my book. Portman is now one more vote in a nascent movement to repeal DOMA in Congress if the Supreme Court fails to strike down Section 3. (And besides, there’s also Section 2 that remains unchallenged so far.) Portman may also be an important voice should equality advocates in Ohio launch a ballot challenge to that state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, a move that is likely to occur, I think, sometime in the next five years.
Each move on the issue is important. But for those who want to complain and kvetch about Portman’s change, I guess they can always take comfort in knowing that McCain and Boehner won’t let them down.
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Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
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