NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-OH) decision to support marriage equality was not warmly received at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Friday.
ThinkProgress spoke with 10 attendees about the Ohio Senator’s announcement this week that he was reversing course and backing marriage equality after his own son came out of the closet. Every person we spoke with opposed same-sex marriage, and many had harsh words for Portman.
“Horrible!” said Tony Mele, an 88-year-old woman from New Jersey, of Portman’s decision. When told he did so because of his gay son, she responded, “That’s his fault! He gets no sympathy from me.” A pastor from Georgia, William Temple, told Portman to “quit being so selfish as to only think about his son,” and if he won’t reverse himself, “to step down and go home.” Another pastor, Rev. Robert Lancia, dismissed Portman’s point that we should treat each other according to the Golden Rule: “That doesn’t cover it.” One man, David Kern, even said Portman’s son’s choice of college turned him gay. “Well what did Sen. Portman expect when he sent his son to Yale?”
LGBT rights have been a hot topic at CPAC after conference organizers barred two conservative groups, GOProud and the Log Cabin Republicans, from attending because of their pro-tolerance views.