Portman, Cheney and Hillary

Mar 27 2013 @ 4:00pm

Molly Redden surveys other politicians who have been pressured on marriage equality by their children:

The three eldest Huntsman sisters—Mary Anne, Liddy, and Abby—all publicly supported same-sex marriage before their father, Jon Huntsman. But they seized on the fact that he endorsed civil unions for gay couples in 2009, Abby told me, and pushed him to go further. “We had conversations about it with my dad all the time,” she said. “He was more than ready to go there.” When he finally wrote an op-ed for the American Conservative in mid-February saying that he supported gay marriage, Abby helped him write it.

Barbara Pierce Bush, one of George W. Bush’s twin daughters, filmed a short spot in favor of a 2011 marriage equality bill in New York State. Her mother, faced with the opportunity to do the same, chickened out, asking that supportive statements she’d made about same-sex marriage be pulled from a pro-marriage-equality ad. (Meanwhile, George W. Bush has given no signals that he’s moving on the issue.) And while being a Republican and marriage equality advocate can be a real bitch—her words—Meghan McCain has pushed the issue tirelessly as a writer and speaker. She apparently won over her mother, who appeared in a pro-same sex marriage photo shoot in 2010; John McCain, however, remains opposed.

For the record, I don’t think this means that these people are somehow only moved by an issue when their own family is affected. Any generational change like this requires parents to be persuaded by children. Portman is not to be criticized for this. He’s a human being. And the most powerful advocate of any idea is another human being you know and love.