Saturday, April 18, 2015

Maybe Pols Should Get Out More

Ohio Sen. Portman's change of heart on gay marriage makes me think maybe all pols should get out more.

Maybe Pols Should Get Out More

Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman's "change of heart" on same-sex marriage got me thinking.

The respected and leading Republican -- who was seriously vetted as a VP pick by Mitt Romney's campaign last year -- now says he supports gay marriage, two years after his own son told him he's gay.

Portman is the most prominent Republican to express such support since former VP Dick Cheney, whose daughter is gay and legally married.

In Portman's case, it's a complete reversal. He co-sponsored and voted for the Defense of Marriage Act as a member of Congress back in 1996.

While Portman's new view is no doubt welcome in the LGBT community and (I guess) he deserves props for being guided by his heart instead of his political party, it is telling that he doesn't face reelection until 2016 and that, clearly, his "change of heart" is born solely from personal experience.

This leads me to think all politicians should maybe get out more.

A majority of Americans now support same-sex marriage. Nine state and the District of Columbia allow it. And the U.S. Supreme Court is about to hear arguments on two same-sex cases.

Congress lives in a bubble of self-protection, privilege and perks. I've often argued that its policies are skewed because of this. If members of Congress had more personal experience on more social issues -- poverty, lack of health-care, hunger, lack of education, urban crime, family planning -- maybe they would be more empathetic to the millions of constitutents whose lives are so different from their own, in many more ways than sexual orientation.

Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
Also on Philly.com
Stay Connected