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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 19, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Rob Portman’s gay son leads to change of heart

Experience would change public policy

After voting against gay-marriage rights, Sen. Rob Portman now supports these rights because of “personal experience” with his son who recently came out to the senator [“Striking change of heart for lawmaker on gay issue,” News, March 16].

The senator’s recent comments underscore how personal experience can suddenly alter one’s world view. They also raise an overlooked question. What would our public policy be if our leaders had been misled by some fly-by-night subprime mortgage house, if our leaders had spent time teaching in low-property-tax school districts further disabled by the Great Recession, if our leaders had sons or daughters who returned from war physically or emotionally broken?

Former Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott, a known critic of government spending, supported taxpayer-funded retroactive flood insurance after Katrina damaged his and other Mississippians houses. Sen. John McCain, a national-security hawk who was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, is against torture.

Experience clearly matters. Corporate boards do not turn CEO duties over to a third-grader; they prefer individuals with Ivy League MBAs. Parents take sick children to a doctor, not an accountant. I wonder what other “principled” positions our leaders would suddenly alter if they had the advantage of personal experience.

–Michael Carleton, Kirkland

Comments | More in Gay marriage, Gay rights | Topics: Rob Portman

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