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

Springfield to vote on adding sexual orientation to discrimination law
Springfield to vote on adding sexual orientation to discrimination law

Springfield city commissioners will vote later this month on whether to add sexual orientation to its non-discrimination ordinance, a topic that’s long been discussed at meetings since it was rejected more than five years ago. The commissioners — including newly elected Commissioners David Estrop and Rob Rue — will vote on the issue...
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: What we know about Wright Patt
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: What we know about Wright Patt

U.S. lawmakers are in session today but no deal is in sight to prevent an extended government shutdown. The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force closed Saturday and other local governmental institutions, including Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, will be closed Monday as Republicans and Democrats have failed to reach a deal to fund governmental operations...
Sen. Sherrod Brown donates pay during shutdown
Sen. Sherrod Brown donates pay during shutdown

Under relentless attacks from Republicans for blocking a vote on a bill that would have kept the federal government open, Sen. Sherrod Brown said he would donate his paycheck during the shutdown to an Ohio diaper bank which helps low-income families.  Brown, D-Ohio, announced the move in a statement Saturday on the first full day of a partial...
Crowded governor field puts Democratic race up for grabs
Crowded governor field puts Democratic race up for grabs

Nobody denies the Democratic field of candidates running for Ohio governor is crowded. But the whether that is a good thing for the party — and its fortunes in November — depends on how the five candidates behave, according to political experts and party officials. “I am not sure we can assume that a tight primary will damage a candidate...
Government shutdown: Will I still get my mail?
Government shutdown: Will I still get my mail?

Hundreds of thousands of federal employees could be barred from working if Congress can’t agree to a budget plan and avoid a shutdown. But the country’s more than 500,000 postal service workers won’t be among them.  Mail service will continue uninterrupted, even during a government shutdown.  That’s because the U...
More Stories