CINCINNATI (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman is now supporting gay marriage and says his reversal on the issue began when he learned one of his sons is gay.
Ohio's junior senator disclosed his change of heart in interviews with several Ohio newspapers and CNN. In an op-ed published Friday in The Columbus Dispatch, he said the decision came after a lot of thought.
"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," he wrote.
As a member of the House in 1996, Portman voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman and bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage.
Portman's reversal makes him the only Senate Republican to back gay marriage.
Portman said his views on gay marriage began changing in 2011, when his son, Will, then a freshman at Yale University, told his parents he was gay and that it wasn't a choice but "part of who he was." Portman said he and his wife, Jane, were very surprised but also supportive.
He said it prompted him to reconsider gay marriage from a different perspective, that of a father who wants all three of his children to have happy lives with people they love.
He said he talked to his pastor and to people on both sides of the gay marriage issue, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who is opposed to gay marriage, and former Vice President Dick Cheney, who supports it. Cheney's daughter is a lesbian.