Portman says crowd ‘very respectful’ of his gay-marriage stance


Sen. Rob Portman, who has been criticized from conservatives for his recent endorsement of same-sex marriage, said those who attended Saturday night’s GOP Lincoln Day Dinner were a “split group,” but “very respectful” of his change of opinion.

Portman addressed a small group of reporters a few minutes before the $75-a-plate dinner started at The Oscar Event Center. He said changing his stance on same-sex marriages was a personal decision that came after his 21-year-old son, Will Portman, told his family he was gay. He said he understood that his opinion would be unpopular in the Republican party.

Still, he said of his son: “We support him and love him.”

Portman said after his son’s announcement, he gained a “different perspective, a perspective of a father.”

Portman’s appearance at the Lincoln Day Dinner in the GOP stronghold was among his first public speaking events since announcing he supported gay marriage last week.

He received a standing ovation from the crowd when he was announced as the keynote speaker. Instead of talking about gay marriage, Portman urged the Republican party to “change directions.”

He said the problems that face our country are “incredibly serious” and “our country is in trouble.”

He praised Butler County Republicans for carrying 62 percent of the vote in the presidential election, but the party must “learn from the mistakes … we have to.”

Dave Kern, county GOP chairman, said the definition of marriage consists of the union between a man and a woman and that is part of the 2012 Republican platform. He said he supported that and knows the “vast majority of Butler County Republicans feel the same way.”

In response to the senator’s revelation, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester Twp., whose district includes all of Butler, Clark, Darke, Miami and Preble counties, had said he couldn’t imagine supporting same-sex marriage.

Portman was asked if he thought his stance impacted his political career and derailed his opportunity to serve as vice presidential candidate in the 2012 presidential election. He said that decision was made before he announced he was pro-gay marriage and was “not a factor.”

Portman said what drives the Republican party is its concern for the sluggish economy, jobs and excessive government spending. Portman said he was trying to pass legislation until 4:30 a.m. Saturday, and he had a family function to attend after the dinner. He had two hours sleep and classified it as “a big week.”

There were several Butler County Sheriff’s deputies at the event, and they stood guard outside the doors during dinner.

An event organizer said 415 people attended the dinner, a few more than last year when Boehner was the keynote speaker; the 75 people who attended the $500-per-person private reception in a separate room was about the same as last year.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

Ohio Gov. John Kasich says death of Linkin Park singer ‘a sad day’
Ohio Gov. John Kasich says death of Linkin Park singer ‘a sad day’

You wouldn’t expect a state governor to release a statement on the passing of a new metal/rap band’s singer, but John Kasich was touched enough by the death of Linkin Park Singer Chester Bennington’s death to release a statement on Twitter. “I’m still a big fan of Linkin Park,” Kasich tweeted on his personal account...
Enon woman dies after years of work in local government, agencies
Enon woman dies after years of work in local government, agencies

Priscilla Smithers, who served as Springfield City Clerk, an Enon Village Council member and will several local nonprofits, has died. She was 75. Smithers began as the director of community services for Continental Cablevision before taking the position as clerk of Springfield City Commission, which she held for nine years. She was credited as a stabilizing...
John McCain gave one of his biggest political speeches in Dayton area
John McCain gave one of his biggest political speeches in Dayton area

U.S. Sen. John McCain, who announced Wednesday that he has brain cancer, made the Dayton area central to his presidential run in 2008. McCain, R-Arizona, chose Wright State University in Fairborn as the place he introduced Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to the world. Standing onstage at Wright State’s Nutter Center on Aug. 29, 2008 - his 72nd birthday...
Ohio, local leaders react to news Sen. John McCain has brain cancer
Ohio, local leaders react to news Sen. John McCain has brain cancer

The news that Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican nominee for president, has brain cancer drew reaction from across the country and in Ohio. Here’s what some local and Ohio leaders had to say: “I have had the privilege of working and traveling overseas with Senator John McCain to strengthen our Armed Forces. He has not only been a hero...
Longtime Ohio congressman dies
Longtime Ohio congressman dies

Former Congressman Ralph Regula, who represented the Canton region for nearly 40 years, died yesterday at 92. He served in Congress from 1973-2009. At the time, he was the second longest serving Republican member of the House. “I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend, colleague and mentor,” U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci said...
More Stories