We’ve recently heard news from two members of Congress who have a lot in common.
Rob Portman, a senator from Ohio, is a Republican.
So is Matt Salmon, a member of the House of Representatives from Arizona.
Both have consistent conservative voting records, including opposition to gay marriage.
Both members have sons who are gay.
Portman announced last month that his son, a junior at Yale University, inspired him to reassess his opposition to gay marriage.
“It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective,” Portman said, “and that’s of a dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have -- to have a relationship like (his wife) Jane and I have had for over 26 years.”
Salmon, meanwhile, told a Phoenix radio station last weekend that his opposition to same-sex unions remains strong.
“I don’t support the gay marriage,” Salmon said. “My son is by far one of the most important people in my life. I love him more than I can say.”
Let’s start out with the assumption that both Portman and Salmon are men of integrity who love their sons and want them to live happy lives. They have just come to different conclusions.
“The overriding message of love and compassion that I take from the Bible, and certainly the Golden Rule, and the fact that I believe we are all created by our maker, that has all influenced me in terms of my change on this issue,” Portman said.
“I’m just not there as far as believing in my heart that we should change 2,000 years of social policy in favor of a redefinition of the family,” Salmon said. “I’m not there.”
A whole generation has grown up with the lessons of tolerance taught by “Sesame Street,” “Mr. Rogers” and their teachers at school. They have learned that women, blacks, Hispanics, Asians and other minorities should not be denied their rights.
Then, why not gays, too?
As they have gotten a little older, they have noticed as some of their friends have had the courage to come out as proudly gay, lesbian or transgender.
They are far more tolerant than the generations that preceded them, and they have reached voting age.
“It doesn’t mean I don’t have respect, it doesn’t mean I don’t sympathize with some of the issues, it just means I haven’t evolved to that station,” Salmon said. “Rob Portman apparently has … I haven’t.”
We respect Mr. Salmon’s core beliefs and his love for his son, but we hope that _ like President Barack Obama and Rob Portman _ he evolves someday, too.