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Sen. Portman's gay son writes column about coming out to his dad

Jay LaPrete / AP

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, wearing the red jersey, riding in Columbus with his son Will in August 2012. Rob Portman said his views on gay marriage began changing in 2011 when Will, then a freshman at Yale University, told his parents he was gay.

The gay son of the first Republican senator to announce his support for same-sex marriage says he’s “pretty psyched” about his father’s decision and hopes his story will inspire people who are afraid to come out.

Will Portman, the son of Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, wrote in a column for his college newspaper Monday that he came out to his parents in a letter that he wrote in a campus library and sent to them by overnight mail.

“They called as soon as they got the letter,” Will Portman wrote in the Yale Daily News. “They were surprised to learn I was gay, and full of questions, but absolutely rock-solid supportive.”

The senator once opposed gay marriage but announced March 14 that he supported it, saying that his son was entitled to the same happiness that he and his wife share.

“I’m proud of my dad, not necessarily because of where he is now on marriage equality (although I’m pretty psyched about that), but because he’s been thoughtful and open-minded in how he’s approached the issue, and because he’s shown that he’s willing to take a political risk in order to take a principled stand,” Will Portman wrote.

He wrote that he had had an understanding that Rob Portman was his father first and his senator second. He said they eventually began discussions about policy issues surrounding gay marriage.

The Supreme Court hears two landmark gay-marriage cases this week. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri on Sunday became the latest Democratic senator to support gay marriage.

“Good people disagree with me," McCaskill wrote on her Tumblr page. “On the other hand, my children have a hard time understanding why this is even controversial. I think history will agree with my children.”

Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee last year, considered Rob Portman as a running mate. Will Portman wrote that his father told the campaign he had a gay son, and that the family had decided they would be open about it on the campaign trail.

Will Portman wrote that he was relieved when his father wasn’t picked. He also defended his father against criticism that he waited two years after his son came out to support gay marriage.

“Part of the reason for that is that it took time for him to think through the issue more deeply after the impetus of my coming out,” he wrote. “But another factor was my reluctance to make my personal life public.”

His advice for anyone afraid to come out, or worried that there is something wrong with them: “I’ve been there. If you’re there now, please know that things really do get better, and they will for you too.”

Related:

GOP’s Portman announces support for same-sex marriage

GOP sea change on gay rights?

Same-sex marriage’s big day in court: What’s at stake?

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