Saturday, March 16, 2013

Will it become series of family affairs?

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, gained national attention on Friday when he became the only Republican in the Senate willing to say that he’d support the concept of gay couples being able to legally marry.
PORTMAN: Taking a stance

Why? It seems that Portman has a son who has “come out.” He has a son who is gay. Which led the senator to write in a commentary published by the Columbus Dispatch newspaper, “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.”

REGARDLESS OF WHAT one thinks of the issue, perhaps it is merely fact that we shouldn’t presume every single political geek with a “D” following his (or her) name will support the issue.

Or that every “R” is rigidly opposed.

Take the Capitol Fax newsletter out of Springfield, which earlier this week reported about a Democrat in the Illinois House of Representatives who wants his name in the “aye” column when/if the issue eventually comes up for a final vote in that legislative chamber.

But the legislator in question is married to a woman who is a devout Catholic who, as the newsletter describes it, “is absolutely, completely dead set against” gay marriage being legitimate.

PORTMAN’S VIEW ON the issue is influenced by the fact that he wouldn’t be able to face his son if he kept up his opposition on the issue – which he admitted he once legitimately felt.

As for the Democratic legislator? He probably wouldn’t be able to face his wife – who I would hope carries more weight with him than any of his constituents.

Those kind of family ties can have an influence on a public official. It is the reason why reporter-type people get pushy on occasion when trying to find out about a politician’s relatives.

There will be the instances where it matters – even if the other 99 percent of the time it is irrelevant.

WHAT INTRIGUES ME about this particular issue is the fact that it has become such a “yes” or “no” type of matter. There really isn’t a middle ground, particularly for those gay couples who feel like anything less than being able to marry deprives them of some sort of “right” that everybody else has.

Which is why I was amused by the unnamed Democratic legislator, who says he’s trying to figure out some sort of middle ground that would appease more conservative elements.

The Capitol Fax newsletter reported that the legislator would want to make for a stronger exemption in the law for religious organizations.

Although the measure that made it through the state Senate and is now pending in the Illinois House already contains legal language specifying that churches are not required to perform marriage services for those couples who don’t fit their vision of legitimacy.

IN SHORT, ONE can’t walk into a Catholic church and demand a marriage service. But the church can’t take actions to stop that person from going somewhere else in order to obtain the rites that make two people into one couple.

Attempts at compromise may well be futile!

Portman has the better position, in that the matter at the federal government level is before the Supreme Court of the United States. He won’t have to put himself on the record with a vote anytime soon. The anonymous legislator will!

It literally will come down to one of those issues where one will have to try to figure out which side they’d rather be on, and accept the fact that nobody can please everybody at any time – no matter how they vote.


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