WASHINGTON - Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio says he now supports gay marriage because one of his sons is gay.
During an interview with CNN on Thursday in Washington, Portman said "I'm announcing today a change of heart on an issue that a lot of people feel strongly about that has to do with gay couples' opportunity to marry."
He says his evolution on the subject of gay marriage has to do with another revelation. In 2011 his son, Will, then a freshman at Yale University, told his parents he was gay.
"I've come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I've had for over 26 years. That I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is gay," Portman said on CNN.
Portman says his new views reflect "a change of heart from the position of a father" and that he first talked to his pastor and others, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, whose daughter is a lesbian.
On CNN, Portman reflected on how his son announced the news.
"My son came to Jane, my wife, and I, told us that he was gay, and that it was not a choice, and that it's just part of who he is, and that's who he'd been that way for as long as he could remember," he said.
Last year, when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was vetting Portman to be his running mate, the Ohio Republican informed both Romney and his top campaign advisers that he has a gay son.
"I told Mitt Romney everything," said Portman with a laugh. "That process is, intrusive would be one way to put it. But, no, yeah, I told him everything."
Portman, who was ultimately passed over as the GOP vice-presidential candidate in favor of
Rep. Paul Ryan, said the fact that his son is gay was not the deal breaker for Romney. How does he know?
"Well, because they told me," said Portman
As a member of the House in 1996, Portman voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman and bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage.