At this point, just about everything being said and written about LGBTs is tied, directly or indirectly, to the SCOTUS hearings — tomorrow, it’s California’s Proposition 8; Wednesday, the Defense of Marriage Act is up. What follows is one person’s coming out story, and it’s related to a Republican senator who recently “came out” in support of marriage equality.
Today at the Yale Daily News Will Portman, son of Republican Sen. Rob Portman (OH), is a guest columnist. He shares some of his thoughts and the process of coming out. Excerpts follow:
I came to Yale as a freshman in the fall of 2010 with two big uncertainties hanging over my head: whether my dad would get elected to the Senate in November, and whether I’d ever work up the courage to come out of the closet. …
In February of freshman year, I decided to write a letter to my parents. I’d tried to come out to them in person over winter break but hadn’t been able to. So I found a cubicle in Bass Library one day and went to work. Once I had something I was satisfied with, I overnighted it to my parents and awaited a response.
They called as soon as they got the letter. They were surprised to learn I was gay, and full of questions, but absolutely rock-solid supportive. That was the beginning of the end of feeling ashamed about who I was. …
I was fortunate that virtually everyone, both from Yale and from home, was supportive and encouraging, calming my fears about how they’d react to my news. If anything, coming out seemed to strengthen my friendships and family relationships.
Last summer, Sen. Portman was one of those vetted for Romney’s VP pick. Will writes about that, too.
My dad told the Romney campaign that I was gay, that he and my mom were supportive and proud of their son, and that we’d be open about it on the campaign trail.
When he ultimately wasn’t chosen for the ticket, I was pretty relieved to have avoided the spotlight of a presidential campaign. Some people have criticized my dad for waiting for two years after I came out to him before he endorsed marriage for gay couples. Part of the reason for that is that it took time for him to think through the issue more deeply after the impetus of my coming out. But another factor was my reluctance to make my personal life public.
At Box Turtle Bulletin, Jim Burroway talks about Will Portman’s coming out as an eighteen year old freshman. Among other things, Burroway includes this observation:
As for how that impacted the Romney campaign’s decision not to go with Portman for the number two slot and carry with it the key swing state of the election, that story hasn’t been told. But every campaign has its Primary Colors and Game Change, and its only a matter of time before this story gets written as well.
Based on such things as Sunday’s comments by Karl Rove, that the 2016 GOP Presidential Candidate “Could” Support “Gay Marriage”, that “story” Burroway mentions may have a certain “old fashion” quality to it. Hopefully that would be the case, at least.
In his essay, Will Portman has this: (emphasis added)
I’m proud of my dad, not necessarily because of where he is now on marriage equality (although I’m pretty psyched about that), but because he’s been thoughtful and open-minded in how he’s approached the issue, and because he’s shown that he’s willing to take a political risk in order to take a principled stand. He was a good man before he changed his position, and he’s a good man now, just as there are good people on either side of this issue today.
I have come to the conclusion that our government should not limit the right to marry based on who you love. While churches should never be required to conduct marriages outside of their religious beliefs, neither should the government tell people who they have a right to marry.
Good people disagree with me. On the other hand, my children have a hard time understanding why this is even controversial. I think history will agree with my children.