Saturday, March 16, 2013

What about the needs of everybody else's children?

With mounting anger, I read the report of Republican senator Rob Portman's "coming out" in favor of allowing same-sex marriage because he learned that his son was gay. While he was receiving plaudits and pats on the back from many liberals for his willingness to change his views when it became convenient for him and his family, I just couldn't join in the praise. 

He was fine with discriminating against homosexuals as long as he thought it didn't affect him, but when he learned that it actually did affect him, he about-faced and announced he would support the rights of two gays to marry because his son was gay. My first thought was, "What about all those other people's children, Rob? Don't they count? What about their rights?"

I mean, after all, Rob is an elected representative of the state of Ohio, where, I feel reasonably sure there are a few gay sons and daughters of his constituents, but he wasn't concerned about representing or protecting the rights of "THOSE PEOPLE." It was only when the issue hit home that it became important to him. And to whom did he turn for advice? That other totally self-serving advocate for same-sex marriage, Dick Cheney, who saw the light on the subject because his own daughter is a lesbian.

By the time I reached the end of the article about Portman's "brave" decision and his attempts to absolve himself of any guilt through references to his "deep religious belief," I was just about ready to throw up. Instead, I turned to Paul Krugman's blog, where I found, as he often does, he had already expressed my feelings more eloquently than I could. So, let me just borrow (steal) a few of his words.
...Sen. Rob Portman has made headlines by declaring his support for gay marriage after learning that his own son is gay, and apparently we’re supposed to praise him for his new enlightenment. But while enlightenment is good, wouldn’t it have been a lot more praiseworthy if he had shown some flexibility on the issue before he knew that his own family would benefit?
I’ve noticed this thing quite a lot in American life lately — this sort of cramped vision of altruism in which it’s considered perfectly acceptable to support only those causes that are directly good for you and yours. We even have a tendency to view it as “inauthentic” when people support policies that aren’t in their self-interest — when a rich man supports higher taxes on the rich, he’s somehow seen as strange, and probably a hypocrite.
Needless to say, this is all wrong. Political virtue consists in standing for what’s right, even — or indeed especially — when it doesn’t redound to your own benefit. Someone should ask Portman why he didn’t take a stand for, you know, other people’s children. 
Yeah, what he said.

Portman's reasoning and his actions are just the perfect example of the typical thinking of today's Republican Party. Issues are only important if they affect them and theirs. Those things which matter to the rest of us are worth less than zero.

As someone (I forget who or I would give him/her credit) noted, if only some Republican's son or daughter would come out "poor," perhaps the poorest among us might begin to get some Republican love.

Or, here's a thought, Portman has a daughter, too. What if, through some horrible turn of fate, she should need to get an abortion? Would that give him, a professed forced-birther, pause for thought and reflection about the role of government in ordering women's lives?  
 

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