A Senator’s Heart-Searching Discovery – and a Change of Heart

My very first column at The Moderate Voice five years ago — I was not even a regular contributor then — was titled “I, Too, Am a Flip-Flopper“.

The more elaborate sub-title was “I, too, am a Flip-Flopper — And I am in good company.”

Let me quote the opening paragraphs:

People change their minds. Some change their entire way of life–sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

In today’s political climate, changing one’s mind, whether for better or for worse, can be considered a cardinal sin. Witness the withering attacks John Kerry endured during the 2004 presidential elections campaign when he tried to explain his votes on a funding measure for the Iraq war. The term “flip-flopping” acquired an entirely new meaning. It became a pejorative and an effective one.

John Kerry’s alleged “flip-flopping,” along with the smear campaign on his Vietnam War record — the so-called “swift boating” -– probably cost him the presidency.

I continued with a couple more examples of famous political flip-flops, why I felt I was in good company and then divulged — not a big surprise — that I, too, had flip-flopped, “You see, I used to be a gung-ho Republican. Today I am a staunch Democrat.”

I proceeded to explain why I had flip-flopped, why I had changed my political affiliation:

My disillusionment with the Vietnam War was one reason for my conversion. I also gradually realized that “moral principles,” “family and traditional values,“ and other “values” that my previous party claimed to have exclusive rights on, were quite uniformly shared by all Americans, regardless of political affiliation — and were violated by Republicans and Democrats alike.

Perhaps it was because I saw that Democrats are just as God-fearing as Republicans are.

Perhaps it was because I came to the conclusion that “compassion,” “tolerance,” and “inclusion” are a way of life with Democrats, not just hollow quadrennial campaign slogans.

But, I emphasized, “the most personal and compelling reason was that so many from my previous party allege that my son is immoral, a biological error, or worse. A person who does not deserve all the rights and privileges other Americans enjoy.” And I “announced”: “You see, my son–the finest young man in the world– happens to be gay.”

Today, a prominent Republican, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, who previously opposed same-sex marriage (He was a sponsor of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act) also announced that he has a gay son and that he has come to the conclusion that “this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that [he has] had for over 26 years.” Portman adds in an interview with CNN, “That I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is gay.”

The New York Times says, “Mr. Portman’s revelation makes him the only sitting Republican senator to publicly support giving gay men and lesbians the right to marry, and one of the most prominent members of his party so far to speak out on the issue.”

Senator Portman, you may be the only sitting Republican Senator publicly supporting a cause that is just, right and timely, but you are standing tall with the majority of Americans who support equal rights for all Americans.

On this one, Senator Portman, you, too, are in good company.

Please read Senator Portman’s op-ed here. An op-ed about which the New York Magazine says “Rob Portman’s dual revelations that his son is gay and that he has decided to support gay marriage are both a touching story of familial love and another signpost in the astonishingly rapid success of the gay-rights revolution.”

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

4 Comments

  1. Thanks Dorian… in full agreement…

  2. Powerful stuff, DDW. Thanks for sharing your story again. I am not surprised by Portman’s understanding of the issue. He is a thoughtful, bright man in a variety of areas, including finance, budget, trade and as a small businessman; and has showed the willingness to reach across the aisle. Good man.

  3. Empathy – it’s what is needed to understand another’s differences. It’s what divides those congress folk who understand, even though not having experienced, the loss of a home through disaster – flood, fire, or forecosure; the loss of a job at age 50; the inability to house, feed, and clothe your children successfully. Empathy; it’s necessary to good governance.

  4. Thanks, all.

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