Senator Rob Portman of Ohio — a man who was a contender to be Mitt Romney’s running mate — has come out in support of same sex marriage, becoming the first sitting U.S. senator of the Republican Party to do so. Portman, who had previously been vigorously opposed to gay rights, attributes the reversal to his son, Will, who came out to his mother and father in February of 2011.
“I’m announcing today a change of heart on an issue a lot of people feel strongly about. It has to do with gay couples’ opportunity to marry. During my career in the House and also the last few years in the Senate I’ve taken a position against gay marriage rooted in part in my faith and my faith tradition …”
“I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I’ve had for over 26 years. That I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is gay … I had a very personal experience which is my son came to Jane, my wife and I, told us he was gay and that it was not a choice, that’s just part of who he is and that he had been that way since he could remember.”
I commend Portman for changing his mind, as I will always have the greatest respect people for who can change their minds — particularly if they’ve been out there in the public eye stating their previous position. Particularly if they are stating a different position than literally everyone they hang out with. We all have the right to grow and change. I also have a huge amount of respect for his son Will, as I witnessed how hard it was for many of my friends to come out to their conservative parents. That is no small amount of chutzpah for a 21 year-old kid.
As much as it sucks, a lot of people don’t lose their homophobia until they realize someone they love is gay. One reason why people are becoming more accepting of same-sex marriage is because of exposure — either from a friend or family member they love or just from seeing gay people on TV on the regular. If you never meet someone from a particular demographic, it’s easier to think of them as less than human. This is what conservatives talk about when they talk about their fear of the “gay agenda” — they are terrified of people seeing gay people as human.
The ones we have to worry about are the ones who can have a gay son or daughter or brother or sister or close friend who is gay and who still rejects them and hold on to that shit. That’s what’s really heartbreaking. At this point, there have to be so few people who don’t have a gay person in their lives or family that it’s fair to assume that most homophobes are pretty cold people.
Marco Rubio, on the other hand, has balls of another kind. He had the gall yesterday to announce that “opposing gay marriage didn’t make him a bigot“.
Then what is a bigot? What does that make you, Senator Rubio? An end table? If you are going to have a bigoted position on something, whether it’s because of your own personal feelings or because of your wonderful “faith” that you have, you are a bigot. If you think you’re a really nice person and you hold bigoted views, guess what? Still a bigot.
If you’re going to be “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance” … then you are the Merriam-Webster definition of a bigot. If I were to say that being an atheist made me smarter than you, I would be a bigot and would have accept that. Luckily, you’ve given me a host of other valid reasons to believe that.
All I’m saying is, if you’re going to be an asshole, cop to it. And for the love of god, stop trying to pass your bigotry off as divinely inspired, because it’s just silly at this point. If my 95 year-old Catholic, Italian Nonnie can be cool with gay people (Nonnie is way cool about most things, and can totally bench press you, FYI), then there are no excuses for anyone.