I remember the day my views on gay marriage officially changed. It was March 16, less than a week after Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) dramatically revealed his change of heart on the issue.
His decision was based on a very personal story in which his son revealed to him that he was gay. Portman realized that he wanted his son to have the same opportunities for happiness and marriage that his other children will have.
Portman’s decision was slammed in the Twitterverse and in the mainstream media as self-serving, with people turning this deeply personal change of heart into something much more sinister.
Rather than embracing the converted Senator, gay marriage supporters rained insults down on him and his political party.
Said insults ranged from calling him a flip-flopper, to asking if he would change his mind on the minimum wage or abortion laws if his children ran across hard times financially or were involved in an unplanned pregnancy.
Gay marriage opponents called him a traitor and an ultra-liberal, despite his solidly conservative credentials. He instantly went from a potential presidential candidate, to someone who was broadly hated on the left and right.
Personally, I am a recovering neoconservative, who is beginning to lean more and more towards "wacko bird" libertarianism. The issue of gay marriage is one that I have struggled with for a long time, and I have participated in several spirited debates with my friends and family throughout the years.
While I am fully capable of making a full defense of the Republican party, it has been years since my inner-argument amounted to much more than a slippery slope debate which I was not overly passionate about.
That being said, until recently, I have not found the motivation to sit down and really dig into the issue to see if my overall opinion had changed.
Rob Portman changed that for me. After hearing his announcement, I was surprisingly not angry, as I typically would have been if a champion for one of my political positions had changed his or her mind.
I began looking back at the years of debates, thinking about how the strength of my opinion had decreased over time, and I dove deep into the issue. My position hadn’t changed over the next 48 hours of internal debate.
However, over those 48 hours, I realized that my opinion had definitely changed over the last several years.
I now support gay marriage.
While you likely won’t see me marching at Washington, or screaming at those who advocate against gay marriage, I thought it was worth writing this article to show that it is okay to change your position on key issues, and that we should not demonize each other when that happens.
Whether you change your opinion based on something that happens in your personal life, or whether it was a slow evolution over time, political advocates should welcome these new converts with open arms.
On these issues where each side has the support of around 50 percent of the country, how will your side ever become a clear majority if you don’t embrace those who are willing to let their opinions evolve over time?
The only way to guarantee effective political discourse in this country is to be respectful of each other’s opinions, and to allow people to change their minds when they have heard a good argument. Otherwise, what is the point of trying to make a good argument?
I now proudly support gay marriage, and I challenge each one of you to take a look at some of your own political positions this week.
In a world where people are allowed to change their minds on key issues without being demonized, would there be any issues you might like to alter your stance on?
Photo Courtesy: Casey Nolin Photography