Mar 18 2013

Conservatives Not Happy With Portman

Sen. Rob Portman came out publicly in favor of marriage equality last week, just before the start of the Conservative Political Action Conference, and a lot of people who attended that event were none too happy about it. ThinkProgress interviewed people at the conference and asked them about it.

ThinkProgress spoke with 10 attendees about the Ohio Senator’s announcement this week that he was reversing course and backing marriage equality after his own son came out of the closet. Every person we spoke with opposed same-sex marriage, and many had harsh words for Portman.

“Horrible!” said Tony Mele, an 88-year-old woman from New Jersey, of Portman’s decision. When told he did so because of his gay son, she responded, “That’s his fault! He gets no sympathy from me.” A pastor from Georgia, William Temple, told Portman to “quit being so selfish as to only think about his son,” and if he won’t reverse himself, “to step down and go home.” Another pastor, Rev. Robert Lancia, dismissed Portman’s point that we should treat each other according to the Golden Rule: “That doesn’t cover it.” One man, David Kern, even said Portman’s son’s choice of college turned him gay. “Well what did Sen. Portman expect when he sent his son to Yale?”

Well of course. Everyone who goes to Yale becomes gay. Right, George W. Bush? Here’s the video. The guy in the colonial garb is particularly inane.


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  1. 1
    Raging Bee

    “Inane?!” The fact that he’s wearing Colonial garb means he’s channeling the Founding Fathers directly! You can’t call him “inane” when he’s channeling the Founding Fathers!

  2. 2

    Clearly, Portman should have sent his kid to Dartmouth (which is where he went; in fact, he was a classmate of mine, though I didn’t know him). No, wait, we had a few gay classmates also. My gosh, there’s just no hiding place…

  3. 3

    …where you’re selfish if you think of someone else!

  4. 4
    Mr Ed

    So just like Comic-Con and DragonCon CPAC has Cosplay.

  5. 5

    Colonial guy –

    “It’s a complete redundancy to call something gay which isn’t.”

  6. 6

    “A pastor from Georgia, William Temple, told Portman to “quit being so selfish as to only think about his son.” ”
    I actually share this sentiment, but not for the same reasons. It’s all well & good that Portman finally got his head out of his ass when he realized he was demonizing his own son, but he should have done that decades ago, before he demonized many other people for the heinous crime of wanting to get married to the person they loved. We need clear-eyed progressives changing the world, not myopic reactionaries.

  7. 7

    I hope he’s happy, only thinking about himself, that dirty RINO! We Conservatives only think about others. Why, just the other day I was thinking to myself, “Golly, the world sure is a great place where the gayhomos can’t so-called ‘marry’”. See? Other people.
    You would do well to emulate me and those like me. Then we can hunker down, together, to figure out how to get those above us some tax cuts. Really big ones, this time. I know! Gut Medicaid!

  8. 8
    John Pieret

    Here is another example:


    … replete with:

    The Senator’s sudden epiphany and evolution occurred only after finding that his son had chosen a lifestyle as a practicing homosexual.

    Senator Portman’s assertion that his strongly held moral and religious beliefs could so easily be set aside as he evolved on this issue. What if the Senator’s son had divulged he was a practicing cannibal, pedophile, check forger, alcoholic…ad infinitum?.

    If the Senator was a truly caring father, with strongly held religious beliefs, wouldn’t the appropriate response to his son’s homosexual thoughts be to encourage him to not act upon them and even to seek psychological help if needed; a truly caring act of a father for his son’s eternal soul.

  9. 9

    You missed an ‘s’ in insane, Ed.

  10. 10
    Reginald Selkirk

    Off-topic: Crown casino hi-tech scam nets $32 million
    Poker is so much easier when you can us the closed circuit TV to see your opponents’ cards.

  11. 11

    If the Senator was a truly caring father, with strongly held religious beliefs,

    …he’d have stoned the kid.

  12. 12

    There was a great tweet, I can’t remember from who – “Someday these Republicans are going to figure out that their daughters are also women, and then we’ll be all set!”

  13. 13

    When I saw the hed I momentarily went through a time vortex and thought that they were still going on about Hermione being a witch.
    Wrong Portman

  14. 14

    While I think this is a good thing, it is typically (although not exclusively) Republican only to have this kind of change of heart when some policy or issue affects them directly. They just don’t get it otherwise. Among numerous examples are the Cheney clan’s embrace of gay rights, and Sarah Palin’s advocacy for special needs children. But they never seem to extrapolate outward to other issues, only the ones that have personal consequences for them and theirs.

  15. 15

    @ Sally Strange

    Rachel Maddow was on Bill Maher’s show last Friday and in response to Portman’s change of heart because of his son, which caused her to remark “If only we could give all of these Republicans poor sons, they might start caring about poverty too.”

  16. 16

    Another pastor, Rev. Robert Lancia, dismissed Portman’s point that we should treat each other according to the Golden Rule: “That doesn’t cover it.”
    I wonder what this guys sermons are like. The Golden Rule now updated with the exceptions that Jesus forgot. Do unto others except when they are gay,poor,non-christians, women, liberal …

  17. 17

    @ tommykey

    I don’t think that would work. I’m pretty sure many of them have daughters, but that doesn’t seem inspire them to treat women as fully human.

  18. 18

    I’m getting a mixed message from the woman named Tony.

  19. 19

    Having a gay son or daughter won’t help many conservatives change their minds. Too many of them would follow the example set by Alan Keyes.

  20. 20

    Call this as one conservative who’s perfectly happy with Portman. After all, it’s a conservative position to leave other people alone to get on with their own lives as they see fit.
    Somehow, I don’t think I’ll get invited to CPAC any time soon.

  21. 21

    d.c.wilson, I doubt that. Tribalism is one thing, heck, Tribalism to the point of screwing yourself economically just to stick it to groups you’ve been told to hate/fear is too, but family is family. It takes a genuine asshole to pull that off. Those, I should hope, are the exception.

  22. 22
    Reptile Dysfunction

    Portman’s change of heart was sparked by the revelation that his son was gay.
    Many other republicans have learned something from this: never talk about
    these things with your children.

  23. 23
    Akira MacKenzie

    Yikes! And I thought that cos-play at sci-fi/fantasy conventions was pathetic.

  24. 24
    Doug Little


    But they never seem to extrapolate outward to other issues, only the ones that have personal consequences for them and theirs.

    Pretty much boilerplate for republicans, No?

  25. 25

    It takes a genuine asshole to pull that off.

    These days, conservative and asshole are pretty much synonymous.

  26. 26

    Well, wasn’t it Glenn Beck who said that empathy leads to Nazism?
    Say someone is at the grocery store and an elderly woman in front of him is putting back things she can’t afford, so he decides to help her out by paying for them. Next thing you know six million people have been gassed to death and tens of millions more have died in a horrible war.
    Who would want that on his conscience?

  27. 27

    @13: Wrong actress as well. That would be Emma Watson.

  28. 28

    “Conservative” used to mean the belief that “Newer!” does not strongly imply “better.” The word has been hijacked by facist assholes, but the original meaning still applies outside politics. If there is a civil engineer who isn’t conservative, I wouldn’t want to drive over any bridge he designed.

  29. 29

    This is what Harvey Milk was talking about.

  30. 30

    Hey, conservates aren’t too keen on Jean Reno, either!

  31. 31

    @postman (27)
    Time-vortex lag is a serious debilitating condition!

  32. 32

    I don’t think that would work. I’m pretty sure many of them have daughters, but that doesn’t seem inspire them to treat women as fully human.

    It’ more like the policies they advocate are meant first and foremost to screw female commoners not their own kin.


    family is family. It takes a genuine asshole to pull that off

    Or powerful peer pressure and bullying from sociopathic holier-than-thou keepers of the orthodoxy.

  33. 33

    Re Dingojack @ #30

    It is not obvious from the IMDB short biography why conservatives should be all bent out of shape by Jean Reno, who I never heard of until 5 minutes ago. Haven’t seen any of his flicks.

  34. 34
    Hercules Grytpype-Thynne


    Jean Reno starred with [Natalie] Portman in the movie Leon: The Professional. So if conservatives are unhappy with Portman . . .

  35. 35


    NOW I get it. I liked that film, Gary Oldman is so fucking over the top (as usual) and Jean Reno is like an idiot-killer savant. Natalie Portman’s first real role that I’m aware of. Check out the “Godzilla” with Reno and Matt Broderick (among others), “The Visitors”, “Ronin”, “Mission Impossible” OR, just check this list:


  36. 36
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    I think the CPAC crowd is right to be skeptical of Portman, though not right to be members of the “Me First and the Gimme Gimmes” or their opening band, “The Heterosexists”.

    Portman is paid to represent the citizenry, not his family. If he went on record opposing a bridge project – and doing so loudly for years – and then said that his son came out as a civil engineer and working on this bridge would give him a chance to self-actualize by having a good job, we would pretty F’n outraged.

    And with good reason.

    Now, it’s possible that Portman is trying to say, “I had a bunch of stereotypes in my head that gay men were horrible people, sex obsessed, and all that. When my son came out, I was sad because of how much he would lose out on – having a family, for instance. Then I thought about why he couldn’t and I realized that all the rationales I had about gay folk ruining marriage were based on gay folk being a certain kind of person. When my son wasn’t like that, I figured out that these were stereotypes. Thus my reasons for voting against were invalid. Therefore the general principle of equality holds.”

    However, to this point all I’ve heard is, “I want my son to have good things. I have to change the law to give him good things. Therefore I will change the law for my son.”

    That’s nepotism. That’s corrupt. If that’s what’s going on, Portman should resign. CPACers are right: “My son is gay” isn’t a good enough reason to change your mind. “All my supposed-reasons were actually stereotyping rationalizations that don’t hold water in light of the evidence” is a great reason, and if it takes a family member to point that out, well, better than not changing at all.

    I hope Portman isn’t a corrupt nepotist, but what I’ve seen so far doesn’t make me optimistic.

  37. 37

    I agree with Crip Dyke that Mr. Portman should not be celebrated for his change of heart, for the reasons she outlines.

    At the same time, this is a very purist position on politics. Much of politics is based on personal considerations. “Corruption” is a little too harsh. Plus, how exactly does a representative have to follow his constituents?

  38. 38

    The trick to understanding why ‘having a gay son’ and ‘having a daughter’ seem to produce different results (the gay son induces a change of heart; merely being aware that their daughter is a woman does not) is that they’ve fully incorporated the ‘good girl’ myth–the one that says that a ‘good girl’ will never be assaulted, abused, etc–it’s only the ‘slutty’ ones who suffer that sort of fate, and since their daughters are good girls, they never think they have to worry. (They’re tragically wrong, of course, but naturally, many of those girls are constrained from coming forward after assaults precisely because of this, thereby letting the troglodytes avoid confronting their cognitive dissonance.)

  39. 39

    Re @36

    It is quite possible that Senator Portman really didn’t spend much time thinking about issues of same sex marriage in particular, or gay issues in genera before his son outed himselfl. Thus,his support of the types of legislation cited was more of a knee jerk reaction, namely that he had a vaguely negative view of homosexuality but hadn’t really though much about it. Then his son comes out of the closet and suddenly he is forced to give these issues far more careful consideration. In doing so, he comes to realize that his previous positions weren’t based on anything except vague prejudices and, upon more careful consideration, modifies his previous position.

    This is not an off the wall assessment because the same thing happened to Washington Un. of St Louis physics professor Jonathan Katz who wrote 2 posts on his university blog not only showing great animosity toward homosexuals but being proud of holding such views and positively bragging about it. Then his son Issac informs him that he is gay and suddenly the good professor is faced with a dilemma. He eventually takes down the 2 posts in question and expresses support for his son, albeit not going as far as former Vice-President Cheney or Senator Portman in supporting same sex marriage.

  40. 40

    Haven’t seen any of his flicks.

    So you’ve never seen “Operation Corned Beef” this great monument of french cinema alongside other Great Classics with Jean Réno like Les Couloirs du Temps or Wasabi, and let’s not forget his participation in masterpieces from Hollywood like Godzilla, Da Vinci Code or the Pink anther remakes.

    Truly this blog is a cesspool of barbarism and ignorance.

  41. 41

    Re laurentweppe @ #40

    Nope, never seen any of those flicks. If that makes me a philistine, c’est la vie.

  42. 42

    “If that makes me a philistine, c’est la vie.”

    I think using french makes one an unphilistine.

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