As a congressman, and more recently as a senator, I opposed marriage for same-sex couples. Then something happened that led me to think through my position in a much deeper way.Now, I assume his actual personal interest is in his political career. Previously, he'd determined that the most advantageous position is to say marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman, but seeing the intensity of the younger generation's enthusiasm for same-sex marriage, he's getting out in front of the issue for 2016 election purposes.
Two years ago, my son Will, then a college freshman, told my wife, Jane, and me that he is gay....
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....
I guess he can't just say that. That would be honest, but he needs to be deep — in a much deeper way. Yet what is this deepness? He claims deepness because, before, gay marriage was only something that affected people outside his family, now it affects his own son. Why is that supposed to be deep? I consider it shallow — shallow in a way that ought to disqualify a person from representing the general populace.
Imagine if he announced as a general principle: When governmental policies affects close intimates of mine, I will reframe my positions so that their interests are served.
Maybe you are about to say, hey, Althouse, you hypocrite, you have a gay son and you support gay marriage. I have supported same-sex marriage since I first heard about it, which was before I found out my younger son is gay, and I have written 355 posts on gay marriage. See if you can find one that exploits this personal fact about me. I don't think you can. It's an argument I avoid. It offends my principles.
But that doesn't mean it's not a persuasive argument. It shouldn't be persuasive, rationally, but it hits people emotionally, and that's what Rob Portman is trying to do. A presidential candidate needs to feel like a real and trustworthy human being, and this drama of struggling with religion and love of family is the sort of thing that works.
I would not be a good politician. You have to feel reasonably comfortable with bullshit. I'm not saying you need to be a big old liar. But you must take policy positions that will appeal to voters and to articulate reasons that feel right to them. That's all Rob Portman is doing here. He's in the politician zone, and we'll see how he does. I wish him well.
ADDED: Imagine a politician switching from a pro-life to a pro-choice choice position and writing an op-ed saying that he saw things a different way after his own daughter got pregnant.