- Politics and Social Issues
This is Often How We Change Our Minds on Issues
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?