When The Personal Becomes Political

Allahpundit ponders Portman’s reversal on marriage equality:

I’m loath to scold the guy for his reasoning given that I agree with him and that he’s taking on a bit of political risk in doing this, but why did he need his son to come out to get him to look at this issue from the perspective of someone who’s gay? He’s been a professional legislator for years; he’s supposed to consider all sides of an issue when deciding which policy to support. That’s a surprisingly parochial approach to a national debate that’s been rolling around for a solid decade now. Makes me wonder if his feelings on the subject really did change recently or if he’s always quietly been open to gay marriage but only felt politically safe to announce it once he discovered his son’s orientation. Conservative primary voters may be less likely to hold it against him if they think it’s a decision driven by fatherly love for his son.

Chait is more blunt:

Portman ought to be able to recognize that, even if he changed his mind on gay marriage owing to personal experience, the logic stands irrespective of it: Support for gay marriage would be right even if he didn’t have a gay son. There’s little sign that any such reasoning has crossed his mind.

Drum is forgiving:

do wish conservatives could demonstrate a little empathy even for people and causes that don’t directly affect their own lives, but it’s not as if this is an exclusively conservative thing. It’s a human thing. Personal experience always touches us more deeply than facts and figures, and in the case of gay marriage we all knew this was how progress would be made. People would see gay characters on TV and shed a little bit of their discomfort. They’d learn that old friends are gay and decide they wanted to stay friends anyway. They’d learn their children are gay, and decide that they still wanted the best for them, even if that means supporting same-sex marriage.

And Yglesias asks, “if Portman can turn around on one issue once he realizes how it touches his family personally, shouldn’t he take some time to think about he might feel about other issues that don’t happen to touch him personally?”:

Senators basically never have poor kids. That’s something members of congress should think about. Especially members of congress who know personally well that realizing an issue affects their own children changes their thinking.

My thoughts here.