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    Posted March 15, 2013 by
    Farmersburg, Indiana
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    Senator Upholds Family Values in Support of Son & Equality


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     k3vsDad says he is impressed to see Senator Portman change his stance on same-sex marriage, even though that stance was possibly influence by his son. 'I believe in the end it was unconditional love more than anything else which opened the Senator’s eyes that his son deserved the same right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as any other American,' he said. But he does not believe Portman's position on same-sex marriage will have an immediate effect on the Republican Party. 'His voice, however, coupled with that of many other conservatives lately who have now come out for same-gender equality may in the coming years move the party on this social issue toward more tolerance,' he said.
    - Jareen, CNN iReport producer

    Laying  politics aside, Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman today gave more  than lip service to family values. He gave action to his strong  commitment to the value of family in an op-ed in the Columbus Dispatch and in an exclusive interview with CNN's Dana Bash.

    Portman  in revealing that his son, Will, is gay stated that his son deserved  equality and the "joy" to wed the man that steals his son's heart.  Portman said that he has moved away from his votes in Congress where he  voted for anti-gay legislation to now embrace the belief that his son  and others like him should not be denied the right to wed, whether  opposite gender or same gender.

    I  applaud the Senator for his courage, as a leading conservative on  fiscal issues, to come out in favor of providing all citizens equality  under the law.

    Unlike  many who are questioning why it took the Senator two years after Will  came out to his parents to change his mind and state his public support  of same-gender marriage, I understand the why.

    In  making his decision, Portman chose to show unconditional love for his  son. It is this unconditional love that is the bedrock from which all  other family values spring. Portman chose to take his son as he is,  whether he agreed with him or not on the issue.

    I  understand, perhaps coming from a generation when even speaking the  term "gay" was not acceptable and only used in derision, how Portman had  to wrestle with the issue and become as he said "comfortable" with his  change in mind. Not all parents, in a fact sadly a good percentage of  parents, are not so ready to offer unconditional love to their gay and  lesbian children.

    Too  often too many teens are kicked out of their homes, cut off from  family, disowned, beaten and abused by their parents when the parents  learn their son or daughter is gay. There are other parents who choose  to ignore, hoping by ignoring the "gay" will just go away. There are  also those parents who accept and continue to love their child while not  accepting the child's "choice".

    In  my own life, I have seen this played out on all levels. I have had  friends dumped and kicked to the curb. I have had friends lovingly  accepted. I have had friends whose family has tolerated, but never  accepted.

    For me, it has been a mix of reactions.

    I  remember when I was not quite 16 tearfully telling my father how I and a  couple of male friends had "played around". The confession came about  because I was afraid of what one of my brothers was going to say to my  father. I wanted to get out ahead and make sure the "truth" came out.

    In  one of the rare moments when I actually felt and believed my father  loved me, as I lay crying as his arms enfolded me, he cried too. I was  still unsure of who or what I was.

    After  those few moments, my father lectured me on how what my friends and I  had done could put me in prison. My father warned me of the dangers and  the likelihood the police would come to take me away.

    For  those in the younger generations this may seem like a nightmare or some  fantastic tale, but you must remember at this time, there were laws  that did put gays in jail for being gay.

    This  was the time that the psychiatrists still labeled gays as having a  mental defect. At that time, the police could, without accountability,  beat up and leave for dead a gay male who may have been guilty of  smiling in a way the officers thought was flirting.

    We had to walk and talk carefully. There was a real danger to life and limb to live life out and proud.

    My father and I never spoke of that moment again. He never said anything to my mother.

    Years  later when in my mid-20s, I tried to explain who I was to my Mom. My  Mom chose to ignore and pretend I didn't say what I said. She chose  out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

    Sure  most of my guests over the years for the holidays were almost  exclusively male. When asked who was joining me at home, the response  was always the same, "That's Uncle Mark's friend." Nothing else was  said.

    Over  the last eight years Iohn and I have been together, my Mom has accepted  that I am her son whom she loves. She still does not approve. She has,  however, accepted Iohn as my closest friend, companion and room mate.  She has extended her love to him as have the rest of the family, but she  stops short of accepting us as a couple.

    So,  I can understand how it has taken Portman two years to become  "comfortable". Coming out isn't easy for either the person coming out or  their family. Times are changing as are attitudes about those who  happen to be gay, but there is still a ways to go.

    Portman,  however, is not the first Republican or conservative to change his mind  about same-gender equality. There is former Vice President Dick Cheney  for example. There are also evangelical and fundamentalist Christians  who have also changed their minds over the years, including within my  own family.

    Underneath the change, the reason has been the same - unconditional love.

    I  applaud Portman for changing his mind and having the courage, along  with Will, to show that true family values demand unconditional love. As  Portman noted, having a personal experience made a big difference in  his thinking. Having a gay son caused Portman to re-evaluate and  re-examine his position on same-gender equality.

    Alas,  many parents in the same situation, as well as too many politicians,  would choose a different course. Rather than living family values, too  many would worry more about "what will people say" than offering  unconditional love and support to their child.

    Portman chose family over politics and in so doing put family values into action and not just words.

    From  the Cornfield, this is a momentous day. Hopefully Portman will inspire  other conservative and Republican families to re-evaluated their  position on this issue.

    As Americans, equality should be a right of all Americans.

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