The Elephant Sneaks into My Wheelhouse

I’m not a “one issue” person. No, really. Some (read: most) of my friends will chuckle at that. They’d tell you that I’m all over LGBT equality, and that I’ve been that way since the GAY LIB days of the 1960s.

That part is true, but I have lots of things on my agenda. I worry about the broken health care system in the US. I am concerned that Uncle Sam flexes his military fist way too quickly. I fear that too many people remain unemployed even though there are potholes in the streets that are large enough to swallow small children.

Those are all critically important issues, and I’m concerned about each.

But (and this is often a show-stopper)… you don’t get to talk to me about all those other things until we get past LGBT equality. It is my sine qua non issue.

That’s why the recent switch of Sen. Rob Portman on marriage equality is so interesting to me.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)

Mr. Portman is a Republican from Ohio. He and I will most likely have a short conversation because I am definitely not a Republican, and Ohio is far too cold for my tender bones. But he is the only elected Republican who doesn’t think my life is a waste of space. He thinks my love for my husband has merit, and that (by my own definition) lets me hear what he has to say on a whole agenda of topics.

My parents started out like most Republicans. They used words like F*g. It was inconvenient for them because I was never “in” the closet. I was out my entire life. They knew my boyfriends in high school and college, and they maintained an uneasy silence. They knew I’d react noisily.

When I was out on my own, invitations to family events would come in addressed to me but not my lover. I’d always ignore those kinds of invitations. When mother asked about that, I told her why. It was an uneasy truce: no verbal barrages, but no real peace.

They finally came around. Before they died, they both accepted my lover/husband as part of the family. I started going to family outings again. My relatives (adopted family, no blood) didn’t like the arrangement, but nobody ever said anything. I can’t ask for more than that. What you think of me isn’t any concern of mine. I don’t care what you or anyone else thinks. You can talk behind my back, and that’s just ducky. We’ll only have problems if you say something impolite within earshot. That usually includes saying things about gay kids who aren’t strong enough to stand up on their own.

My relatives (adopted) finally figured all that out. Peace was at hand.

I think I’m still a Yella-Dog Democrat. That term goes back to when Rep Sam Rayburn (D-TX) was Speaker of the House. When somebody asked him if he’d ever vote for a Republican, Mr Rayburn said he’d rather vote for an old Yella-Dog.

Will and Sen. Rob Portman

Will and Sen. Rob Portman

I think I’m still one of those, but now I will eagerly give Sen Portman a listen.

What’s more, I am so happy to see what came from Will Portman’s coming out. Will is the senator’s son. He’s a student at Yale University. After Will told his father that he’s gay, it started a two year process of evolving into believing that marriage equality ought to be the law of the land.

So, thank you Will. Thanks for being honest about who you are. And thanks to your father for having the guts to go against what has been a rightwing lock on the social policies of the Republican party.


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