According to “Double Down: Game Change 2012,” published on November 5, Senator Rob Portman was removed from presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s consideration for vice president at his request, because his son, Will, was not ready to come out to the whole world.
The book reports, “Father and son had been talking about going public together for a while, but they wanted to do it on their own timetable.”
According to “Double Down,” Will came out to his father in 2011; he was also out to his friends at Yale, where he was an undergraduate, but he didn’t want to deal with the ramifications of being the openly gay son of a Republican candidate for Vice President. In accordance with Will’s wishes, Senator Portman requested that the Romney campaign publically state that he had asked not to be considered as Romney’s running mate.
For fear of damaging the campaign, however, they refused, claiming that the announcement might hurt Romney’s popularity.
Senator Portman said that if chosen as Romney’s vice president, he would publically declare his support for marriage equality. Romney opted for Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
Senator Portman did eventually come out in support of marriage equality, and his gay son, in March 2013. Like many conservatives, it was a long journey to that point; Portman actually had a long history of voting and speaking out against LGBT rights, having voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, as well as voting in favor of a measure that would have banned same-sex couples from receiving federal funds for adopting children in Washington, DC.
In the editorial he wrote on the subject, “Gay couples also deserve chance to get married,” he said, “[Originally] my position on marriage for same-sex couples was rooted in my faith tradition that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman. Knowing that my son is gay prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective: that of a dad who wants all three of his kids to lead happy, meaningful lives with the people they love.”
Portman was one of the few Republican senators to vote in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.