AirTalk for March 18, 2013

Rob Portman’s reversal on same-sex marriage - when the personal becomes political

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

Justin Lane /EPA /Landov

Sen. Rob Portman spoke out in favor of marriage equality last week, saying that his gay son's coming out process had changed his mind about same-sex marriage rights.

Ohio Senator Rob Portman spoked out last week in favor of marriage equality, becoming the only sitting Republican Senator to take that position. Portman isn’t the first conservative to reverse his opinion on same-sex marriage for personal reasons – coming out of the closet is a more political event now than it ever has been. Many hail shifting positions for personal reasons as a sign of changing times. But some critics say that political empathy should not have to come from an intimate interaction.

What does it take to change someone’s mind about LGBT rights on a personal level? A son or daughter? A prominent celebrity? A friend of a friend? How effective are these personal connections at changing public opinion in big (or small) ways?


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