US Republican Senator Rob Portman favours gay unions

Rob Portman speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington 15 February 2011 Senator Rob Portman wrote of how he had "wrestled" with his faith

Related Stories

Influential US Republican Senator Rob Portman has renounced his opposition to gay marriage.

The Ohio senator said he began to change his mind in 2011 after his son, Will, revealed he was gay.

Sen Portman said that his former views on marriage had stemmed from his Methodist faith.

In 1996, as a member of the House of Representatives, he voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

He also voted in 1999 against allowing gay couples in Washington DC to adopt children.

Senator's surprise

The gay marriage issue has increasingly divided the Republican party, with some members arguing that opposition to same-sex unions contributed to the party's losses nationally in last November's elections.

Start Quote

Ultimately, it came down to my belief that we are all children of God”

End Quote Senator Rob Portman

Sen Portman, who was considered a potential running mate for Republican White House candidate Mitt Romney, announced his change of heart in interviews with several Ohio newspapers.

"I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn't deny them the opportunity to get married," he wrote in an opinion piece for the Columbus Dispatch.

"That isn't how I've always felt," he wrote. "As a congressman, and more recently as a senator, I opposed marriage for same-sex couples."

His son posted a message on Twitter, saying: "Especially proud of my dad today".

Sen Portman said to Ohio newspapers that his son Will, now 21 and a student at Yale University, told him being gay was "not a choice", and that he had been gay "since he could remember".

The Ohio senator said he and his wife, Jane, had been surprised but also supportive.

The father of three said he had confided in the pastor of his church in Cincinnati about the issue.

He also spoke to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who opposes gay marriage, and to former Vice-President Dick Cheney, who supports it. Mr Cheney's daughter is a lesbian.

US gay marriage laws

A same-sex couple marry in San Francisco in June 2008
  • Same-sex marriage has been passed in New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, Washington DC, Connecticut, Maryland and Washington
  • Thirty-one US states have banned same-sex marriage through law or constitutional amendment

Sen Portman told the newspapers that Mr Romney had been informed about Will's sexuality last year.

Mr Romney spoke out last May against gay marriage, a week after President Barack Obama took the political gamble of announcing his support for such unions.

Sen Portman said he had struggled with reconciling his Christian faith and his desire to see his son have the same opportunities for relationships as his siblings.

"Ultimately, it came down to the Bible's overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God," the senator wrote.

Sen Portman said he would like Congress to repeal the provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (Doma), which bans federal recognition of gay marriage.

But he argued that states should not be forced to recognise such unions.

Sen Portman said in his opinion piece: "Judicial intervention from Washington would circumvent that process as it's moving in the direction of recognising marriage for same-sex couples.

"An expansive court ruling would run the risk of deepening divisions rather than resolving them."

Nine US states and the District of Columbia fully recognise gay marriage, including several states which legalised the unions through a popular vote in 2012.

The announcement comes just over a week before the US Supreme court will hear arguments in two cases related to gay marriage. One challenges Doma.


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    Oh so many odd bods wanting to shove their noses in to other peoples business...keep it out ..and live and let live..instead of involving yourselves in other peoples the old saying goes ..if you ain't got anything nice to say...keep it shut....!And if your are a sky fairy are on very dodgy ground anyway....

  • Comment number 169.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    So same sex marriage devalues the concept? What about Indian or Chinese marriage? Do they devalue your concept (not the concpet) of marriage? Are they not a real marriage and the only true marriage one where people are married in the eyes of your god alone?

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    Let us be brutally clear on this issue

    Those that oppose gay marriage are bigots

    The Webster's Dictionary definition of this word make this abundantly clear

    If this is what they sincerely believe -they should wear this term with pride.....

    Why do those who call themselves "Christians" use the OLD Testament for everything they assert rather than the teachings and words of Jesus Christ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    The BBC giving prominence to this ho-hum matter shows the editorial leanings, preoccupations and predilections of the great and good at the Beeb.

    It's a mildly interesting story. I would respect Portman's views more if they were based on principle, and not on a personal, family situation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    Portman is a sorry excuse of a man. Evil should not be tolerated just because it lives in your house. SHAME on You Portman !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    Can some of you stop and listen to yourselves just for a minute. Two people love each other. Do they not have the same rights of the rest of us because they are the same sex? We live in a World filled with far to much hatred to allow anything to get in the way of happiness and love!


  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    157. FrTed & 158. kEITH Well said! You both nearly had me in tears. 156. JohnM don't be so selfish and childish, your marriage is between you and your girlfriend. She definitely does deserve more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    As a Christian, let me just say that this debate is starting to get a little old. Fellow Christians, did God not give man free will? He did. That said, let these people use their free will and don't get yourselves involved in a relationship that ISN'T YOUR'S! Marriage is different from culture to culture, but for me, the one constant is that it should be between 2, consenting adults. Fair enough?

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    157. FrTed
    "Your girlfriend deserves better than you, so she wont miss much!"

    158. kEITH
    "The poor girl that she should love you so much and cannot match her love".

    The usual shouting down from people who feel uncomfortable when confronted by someone with an opposing view.

    Now who's not being liberal and dismissing the feelings and opinions of others?


  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    @156. JohnM

    But this is not about you

    You may chose to do so or not to do so, as is your right.
    Others have the same right, and your sense of morality when this does not effect you, except to say you are offended by it, has no bearing here.
    Marriage is not about god or morals or opions of others
    Only about the wishes and desires of those who wish to wed

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    @156 JohnM
    Your potential marriage is worthless now? What an antiquated thought. I fail to see how two people that love one another getting married, devalues your future marriage. Especially when we see that many (upwards of 50% here in the US) get divorced. Care to elaborate?

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    156 John M . Your girlfriend deserves better than you, so she wont miss much!

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    156. JohnM

    "My girlfriend wants me to marry her - I've refused as it's worthless now."

    The poor girl that she should love you so much and cannot match her love.

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    The reality is that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Anything else degrades and devalues it.

    More casting off of moral codes of behaviour just because people can't be bothered to care about them anymore.

    Say what you like, make it law if you want - you will never, ever tell me that it's right.

    My girlfriend wants me to marry her - I've refused as it's worthless now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    Poor man.

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    Oddly most people who know someone who is gay tend to support their rights. If only there were a way of increasing our social circles above about 150, but they haven't found a way. The sad thing is with so much gerrymandering the republicans look set to stay in control of the house for the next few years even though they don't hold a popular majority.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    Human beings have built long lasting and loving relationships for 100s of thousands of years. I am sure that many of these relationships were same gender and some of multiple it what we are as a species. The construct of marriage is a mechanism devised, mainly be religious bodies, to save us from so called original needs to be's what we do naturally.

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    hello 143 Roast chicken. we live in 2'012. life is for living and enjoying. Your God must be a nasty sod for making people unhappy by having to live a lie. Mine isn't he is tolerant and allows people to be happy. As the great John Lennon once said " There is enough hatred in the World, any sort of love is good" probably not the right words. But I'm sure you will get my meaning!

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    143. Roast Chicken
    I disagree. I think the world is finally waking up and slowly but surely becoming more "moral". It's about time too.


Page 10 of 18


More US & Canada stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.