March 15th, 2013
09:49 AM ET
5 years ago

Portman stirs mixed reaction with same-sex marriage reversal

(CNN) - Hours after Republican Sen. Rob Portman announced he reversed his position on same-sex marriage, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he won't second guess Portman but he's not entirely embracing the Ohio senator's change of heart, either.

Portman told CNN's Dana Bash that after his 21-year-old son came out two years ago, he came to the conclusion that same-sex marriage "is something that we should allow people to do."

"To get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I've had for over 26 years," Portman said. "That I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is gay."

Their son, Will, tweeted Friday morning, saying he is "especially proud of my dad today."

Gingrich acknowledged on CNN's "Starting Point" that when an immediate family member reveals that he or she is gay, there are typically three responses.

"You can say I believe my principles so much, I'm kicking you out. You can say I still believe in my principles, but I love you. Or you can say, gee, I love you so much I am changing my principles," Gingrich said. "Rob picked the third path. That's his prerogative."

The former presidential candidate stands by his own belief that a marriage is between a man and a woman, and argued the traditional definition will stay in place "no matter what politicians decide."

"I don't think they have the power to change what is a religiously inspired definition," he aid.

Some on the right applauded the senator's decision. Gregory T. Angelo, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said in a statement "if there was any doubt that the conservative logjam on the issue of civil marriage for committed gay and lesbian couples has broken, Senator Portman's support for the freedom to marry has erased it."

"(His) evolution on this issue highlights how personal it is for Americans – whether they're the Junior Senator from Ohio or your next-door neighbor, all Americans have a gay friend, colleague or family member, and understand them to be as deserving as their straight counterparts of the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that are the promise of the United States," Angelo continued.

The Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for gay rights, issued a statement saying Portman "made the basic and courageous choice to put parenting before politics."

"When it comes to marriage equality, all Americans are on the same journey toward recognizing our common humanity," Chad Griffin, the group's president, said. "But while 8 in 10 Americans know a gay or lesbian person, it still takes unique courage to speak out publicly for equality.

- CNN's Ashley Killough, Shannon Travis and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Filed under: Newt Gingrich • Rob Portman • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    from the article:

    Hours after Republican Sen. Rob Portman announced he reversed his position on same-sex marriage, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he won't second guess Portman but he's not entirely embracing the Ohio senator's change of heart, either.
    That's that old Reagan Rule, the 11th Commandment, kicking in. The establishment types will be light on criticism. The radical extremists will, of course, jump all down his throat about it.

    March 15, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  2. V

    That is great, but I would not agree that a "logjam was broken." The only reason Portman reconsidered his position is because it impacted him directly. Not because he considered someone else's point of view, or felt empathy at all. The "conservatives" in the GOP are not going to rush to join him unless they are also directly impacted by the issue. If it's one of their loved ones then they will be understanding, otherwise they will spread their hate just like they always have.

    March 15, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  3. TomballTX

    What a joke, for Newt Gingrich to be commenting on marriage. How hypocritical of this thrice-married man who left a wife and children behind to take off with another women to even render an opinion on it, let alone an opinion that is demeaning to the concept of gay marriage. The typical arrogance of conservatives, whose policy decision-making seems to be based on, as Portman himself put it describing his previous anti-gay marriage stance, "I didn't think about it."

    March 15, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  4. FrustratedRepublican

    Does anyone else feel this is just a bit hypocritical??? If your son is gay, he is the embodiment of evil and doesn't deserve the comfort and security of marriage. However, as soon as it's my son, I want all the riches that a fulfilling marriage can bring him. Please!

    Maybe Republican could go back to working on the deficit and just stay completely OUT of these social judgement issues. What if we actually left that to our churches!?!? Maybe if we were just as libertarian on social issues as on guns and taxes, our candidates wouldn't get their hat handed to them AGAIN in the next election and we could actually make some progress against the eminent fiscal and security issues we face!!!

    March 15, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  5. Johnnny

    Well, it's a good thing his son isn't an axe-murderer, or his thinking would evolve on that too.
    What a looooser.

    March 15, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  6. Miss Me

    This is how change comes, slowly. It's one heart and mind at a time – but I am so glad to see this change in societal norms gaining momentum. I have loved ones that have been waiting a life time for society to acknowledge that their relationship is as valid as anyone else's relationship or if not acknowledge, at least not shun it.

    March 15, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  7. Puddin

    Odd how things change when it's you or your offspring....reminds me of my mother-in-law's attitude: rules are made for everyone else. Comparing this with gun control, I'm wondering if all those who are against any kind of gun control would feel the same way if one of the staff members or one of those wonderful little children in Conneticul had been their loved ones or the cute little sweet, six month old baby who was shot five times just recently, was theirs? I think not. One would hope these gun-lovers might have a bit of empathy for those families who are heart-broken over these incidents and others similar.

    March 15, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  8. PJ

    Forgive me for stating the obvious, but, the epitome of virtue, Newt, "stands by his belief that marriage is between a
    man and a woman", and a second woman, then two mistresses, one of whom becomes the third "woman wife".
    That is his "religiously inspired definition" of marriage. There is another "religiously inspired definition" on judging
    others. But Newt is still hanging in there with the Conservative Christian Coalition types, and of course, CPAC.
    All contradictions of what they say, not what they do.

    March 15, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  9. partybasher

    Well, Rob Portman's political career is over.

    March 15, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  10. rs

    Republicans, very simply are not for the core values most Americans hold. They are against civil rights, against voter's rights, and against workers' rights. These three things are the core of a vibrant society. They may object to Gay marriage (at whatever level they choose), but in doing so, they fundamentally alter the rights of those people- things that Republicans should support- to have healthy families; to inherit estates; to pay taxes at the same rates as the rest of us.The world is advancing- there are a number of nations now that allow same-sex marriage (including the home of the new Pope, Argentina). Economists indicate same-sex marriage will support job growth and economic expansion.
    The GOP instead peddles the narrow and unfounded position that somehow a same sex marriage dilutes their marriage, or mine. How?
    Get religion out of politics and move on. These are our neighbors, or sisters and brothers and our friends we are talking about here.

    March 15, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  11. rbockman

    Portman, until now was well thought of, but now we see how weak minded the best of the political class can be.

    March 15, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  12. looier

    ingrich is a MAJOR con job. Hear his words, utter crap. And Portman, as many who UNDERSTAND the "real reason" why he had a "change of heart," are NOT impressed by his new found "empathy."
    The GOP, and their right-wing religious lackey base...are MAJOR haters and have become the DEVIL incarnate.

    March 15, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  13. Dismade

    Newt Gingrich being asked to comment on marriage, SERIOUSLY? Like so many other hypocrits he seems selective on what parts of the Bible he accepts. Marriage between man and woman – OK. 'Til death do us part – uh maybe not.

    March 15, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  14. Rick Thomes

    Sen Portman, I think you are a flip flopping phony. So, what ever a family member does. your position will change so it becomes OK ? You sad, sorry person.

    March 15, 2013 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  15. looier

    Gingrich is a conjob and grifter from way back. Portman is void of any "soul" He has a gay son? So what. Now...he has had a "change of heart." WHO is that idiot, other than a fool? The GOP, the party of "moralists," are the DEVIL incarnate.

    March 15, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  16. Fair s Fair

    You've got Barack Obama and you've got Rob Portman. Both men change their views on the very same topic. One man's "position has evolved" and one is a "flip flopper". Why the difference? Anyone?

    March 15, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  17. Spinal

    It would be a blessing if as much of the populace as possible, could finally see through the republican talking heads and see them for what they really are. They have one agenda, and no other. Make the rich richer, and the poor poorer. The social issues mean nothing to them. They will do whatever it takes to gain power. They'll agree with what ever issue is on the table, to attain power. They have no other God, other than money.

    March 15, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  18. Kyle in Dallas

    Accept for Newt he has a Lesbian sister and I am sure he loves and supports, right?

    March 15, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  19. Papaw Nick

    I am sure the son is proud of his father. He is also proud his father LIED to the voters for years. Portman is a typical member of congress making decisions that benefit them at the present time. I will obey any law that is passed but that law will NOT change my beliefs.

    March 15, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  20. Just a thought

    The Republicans epitomize hypocrisy....Newt (the cheat) Gingrich....Really? This is the party's spokeman on these matters? It pleases me so this remains the Party of Stupid

    March 15, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  21. John

    Oddly, I thing Newt makes the best point in the article. The traditional definition of marriage is a religious definition. I don't want the state in my church. Every American should be interested in protection of our religious freedom for the government. I'm not talking about the getting rid of the word GOD on coins and in the Pledge, I'm talking about the regulation of religious ceremonies, like marriage. Marriage is for religion, civil unions should be the sole domain of government. As long as government can control marriage, your faith's understanding (or lack thereof) marriage will always be under attack. Abolish government sponsored marriage! Civil Unions for all!

    March 15, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  22. StandForTruth

    I will not reverse my stand for the Truth of the Word of God for anyone including my own blood.

    March 15, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  23. Lynda/Minnesota


    Well, Rob Portman's political career is over.

    Indeed it is. What is really interesting is that this man has never intented to become President. I can't imagine where folks got the impression he would. He's done everything he could (including this) to suggest he wouldn't run.

    Oh, well. It's none of my business what he does (or says). But kudos to him for putting the nosey parkers in their place.

    March 15, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  24. rs


    I will not reverse my stand for the Truth of the Word of God for anyone including my own blood.
    Good for you. Now, realize that there are many more in America who are entitled to their own beliefs and freedoms , and choose not to suffer your primitive, narrow self-imposed reality.

    March 15, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  25. richard

    What a bunch of BS. When the issue did not affect Portman's family he did not care about others human rights.
    Now he finds out his son is gay, he has a change of heart.
    Goes to show you politicians care nothing about you unless your a special interest group or a lobbyist or the issue hits home.

    March 15, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
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