This is Often How We Change Our Minds on Issues

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The anatomy of a changed mind.

Accompanied by a great deal of publicity a few years ago, Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) reversed his position on traditional marriage v. gay rights. How the change occurred in his life is exactly how many people come to a different opinion on the subject: they find out someone they know is gay. Maybe it's a family member. Maybe it's a fellow worker. But the experience of personally knowing someone who is affected by the laws that are on the books right now is the main reason people come to see the issue in a more tolerant light.

The easiest thing in the world is to be absolutely committed to an issue you know you will never have to deal with in your own life. Abortion comes to mind. Men in particular seem to place this one issue at the top of their deal-breaker list when assessing a candidate for public office. Who wouldn't be adamant in opposition to an issue that will more than likely never cost you anything? It tends to be the same with the issue of homosexuality. Until you know someone from this persuasion (for lack of a better word) it is not hard to brush all those faceless people with the same broad stroke and deprive them of the same rights you enjoy.

I congratulate Senator Portman for his willingness to reverse his position on this issue and to do so in such a public manner. I'm sure it wasn't easy and that he will suffer some political fallout from it. Although when you consider similar reversals by public figures like Dick Chaney, you have to believe Americans both Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, are willing to make allowances for those who find themselves in the uncomfortable position of being touched personally by these issues. So what's the message here? There are things that are absolutely wrong - up to the point they become realities in your own life?

I don't believe Senator Portman should be commended for his reversal when the only reason he is changing his mind is because he has learned his son is gay. Who wouldn't reconsider their views when faced with the reality of someone as near and dear to them as their own child? It is when you can consider the lives of those you will never know, try to understand their circumstances, and compassionately do what you can to ensure their rights are every bit as protected as your own that you deserve commendation.

The hardest thing in the world is to do something you believe is right, and to do it knowing it is going to cost you something - something more than fifteen minutes of fame in the twenty-four hour news cycle. That is commendable.

This week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled civil marriages between homosexual couples will now be legally recognized in every state. This ruling will not change the minds of many people on this issue. It is actually not intended to change anyone's mind. It is to afford the same rights under U.S. law to each American citizen equally. People are still free to have whatever opinion they choose. But the law will be the same for everyone.

Isn't that what America is all about?




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Comments 23 comments

HSchneider 3 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

You are right on target, Kathleen. The fastest way for anyone to change their mind on an issue is to have to deal with it themselves. Portmann and Cheney each have a child that is gay and they now realize that it is not a choice but it is natural. They love their children and cannot demonize them. Empathy enters and ignorance exits. Good for them and all others no matter how they arrive at the transformation. Maybe we can make all the GOP legislators poor so they can feel the effects of their social program cuts. I believe they would change on that also. Excellent Hub, Kathleen.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

HSchneider: Glad to have my first response be a positive one. You make some good points too. Thanks for reading and commenting.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Excellent points. Right on target. It is so easy to be judgmental, critical, and hard-hearted from a distance. But up close many "absolutes: suddenly begin to look quite differently. Sharing


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

Sometimes doing what you THINK is right is not always right...open mind and open heart can help lead the way.

Voted up and interesting.


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Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

phdast7 and tillsontitan: I fall into this category as well as everyone else. This senator just drove the point home. Thanks for commenting, as always.


Sanxuary 3 years ago

I think its important to understand free will and a life in Purgatory. God did not desire robots but desired people who could freely make a choice between so called good or evil. This means that personal sanctuary must be protected but also respected. None of this means that we can not argue the point or the basis of common sense. Half the child belongs to a man you our excluding. Is the rights of the unborn as important as any other civil liberty? Does sex not cause pregnancy and completely preventable? Rape and your own life being endangered is definitely a choice between you and God and I am certain that God will understand your decision. Personally, I think its your own choice of if and how you find your way to mature spiritually. I can not change the lessons in the Bible because I disagree or someone else does. I will not however disrespect your sanctuary If you respect mine. Still I see no reason why it can not be discussed and if one disagrees with one another, there is no reason to not keep an open mind. I do not believe that the path to spiritual maturity is easy for anyone. Even those who believe they are right, know nothing of the journey we all take. We do not all fit in the same box and confusing Earthly agendas with Heavenly purpose equals only hypocrisy.


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Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

"I do not believe that the path to spiritual maturity is easy for anyone. Even those who believe they are right, know nothing of the journey we all take." Too true.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

Kathlenn I like the whole concept of this hub vote


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Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thanks Frank! I keep hearing similar comments in the news - how rare!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Very interesting. Many of us do have 2 view on most issues, stemming from the fact whether it affects us or not. I certainly wish we looked at the human angle of it foremost rather than getting affected by personal factors.

voted up and interesting


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

rajan jolly: It's always interesting to hear from folks from other parts of the world. This is not just an American issue I know. Thanks for commenting.


Nathan Orf profile image

Nathan Orf 3 years ago from Virginia

Very insightful hub, Kathleen, and I like how it is concise and to the point. I agree that it is more commendable to consider and feel compassion for the people you will never even see, and to try to do something to help improve their circumstances, than to change a position because of someone you know.

But I still admire Senator Portman's change of heart, and he is someone I have always respected.

Voted up.


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Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Honestly, I never heard of Sen. Portman before this. Glad to hear something good about him. He has reacted admirably. Don't mean to imply he hasn't. His son is lucky to have a parent like this man.

Concise and to the point is the old newspaper reporter in me. Thanks. Welcome to my hubs Nathan!


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA

We can all get set in our opinions. It is actually hard sometimes to open your heart and mind. Glad to know people can change their minds even if it takes a personal experience. Just put yourself in someone else's shoes and you just might have a different perspective.


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Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

truthfornow: You make a very good point. I just think those in leadership positions should be capable of thinking beyond their own experiences. Thanks for your comments though. I like readers who don't always agree with me.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 years ago from Taos, NM

Kathleen: I agree with you wholeheartedly. You are spot on with this article and message. Both Portman and Cheney are not to be commended for their reversals. To me they are not true reversals because they were only done because their children came out of the closet. What real choice did they have?

I learned long ago in my youth when I encountered gay people that they are human and people too and while I'm not of that lifestyle they certainly have a right to live however they want to. Why Americans think it is their business to know what goes on in everyone's bedroom is beyond me. It is the one thing about this country that I find abominable. Why can't we all just be people? Why do we have to label everyone - black, hispanic, asian, gay, white, transsexual - the labels are endless and so ridiculous. We are all just people struggling to live our lives together.


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Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

suzettenaples: Thanks for contributing to the discussion. We are all struggling with something. That's for sure.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

I would have to agree that there is no lesson like a personal lesson that teaches a person a different way of looking at things.

Also agree with HSchneider, that something needs to make people understand that being poor is itself a punishment and that piling on doesn't make things better for anybody.

Making it a crime to be poor, or to help or give food to poor people is in my mind evil, yet many communities have recently passed laws that do just that.

But for the grace of God anyone might be in the shoes of the poor and homeless -- and if a person is breathing, there's still time to meet that fate . . .


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Au fait: thanks for adding to this discussion. "But for the Grace of God" applies to many topics we feel strongly about in this world. Wish more people took that into consideration.


Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 5 months ago from Essex, UK

Absolutely agree with the theme of this article Kathleen. Two many people develop firm opinions without understanding the issues, as apparently was the case with Sen. Portman's original viewpoint. But equally too many will form their opinion based upon one personal experience or the experience of a friend or relative, as appears to be the case with Sen. Portman's revised position. Neither is commendable. As you indicate, it is when you remove yourself from your personal experience and understand and appreciate the experiences or viewpoints of those whose lives are very different from your own, that you show true empathy and deserve commendation. Alun


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 5 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Greensleeves: Glad you found this hub. You expressed your point of view very well. Couldn't agree more.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Kathy....LOVE this "Shake-up-Wake-up commentary! It's so very true. I have said this so often. (Whatever the topic may be) "Just wait until something effects "them" on a personal level.......suddenly, their opinions and staunch offense will come to an immediate halt!"

So often it may be something terribly tragic that has to occur in order to receive attention for an ongoing problem. We all hate to see this but as you suggest here, it's just the way it is. Thanks, Kathy. Paula


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Kathleen Cochran 4 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you, Paula. BTW: Only my Mother ever called me "Kathy", and it was when I was in serious trouble! She said it like KA - THEE! But I like it from you because I know it is endearment! Thanks for the comment!

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