Portman Divides Ohio–Again

Here we go again: Republican Senator Rob Portman is dividing Ohioans over the issue of homosexuality in round two. Let me give you the stunning details.

As many of you know, Senator Portman, who lent his support in the past to traditional marriage as well as pro-life issues, announced earlier in 2013 that he now agrees with liberals on the homosexuality issue. Because his young adult son is now openly living the lifestyle, Portman now thinks same-sex marriage (SSM) is a cause worth fighting for. Principles are not really that important if it will make future Thanksgiving dinners especially awkward. The people of Ohio surely would understand.

In fact, though, many of the Ohioans who voted for Portman definitely don’t understand–and they are right not to.  Evidence about the militant “gay” lobby’s risk to religious freedom, children’s education, and social stability is clearer than ever for those who choose to open their eyes.

The good news is that Portman heard from tons of us on this issue, and he seems desperate to retain the support of Ohio conservatives. So how does a deeply compromised politician do this? Play to his conservative strengths, or what they appear to be at this moment in time. So the senator began a tour of Ohio pro-life organizations.

Ohio Right to Life (ORTL) sent out an e-newsletter in May showing smiling photos with Rob Portman. Their glowing press release described the meeting, sought by Portman himself, and included this:

“Senator Portman also made a point to articulate his personal story regarding his son and openly discussed his reasons for changing his position on marriage. Senator Portman voiced that he will defend churches’ and various institutions’ religious rights and encouraged them to adhere to their faith and not to back down from what they believe is right.”

Really? Portman will defend our rights? He could start with not intentionally dividing conservatives.

This isn’t the first instance of questionable judgment on the part of Ohio Right to Life. Despite Portman’s ”personal story,” schoolchildren are routinely indoctrinated into embracing homosexuality without risk disclosure because of the leftist leanings of most educators and the teachers’ union influence;  HIV rates for males who have sex with males (even teens) are still through the roof, and activists are so emboldened by flip-flops by guys like Portman that they are planning to challenge Ohio’s marriage amendment. This is about sloppy public policy, propaganda, and child corruption, not personal issues, and a true statesman would recognize the threat and rise to the challenge.

Why go out of the way to be in-your-face to Ohio conservatives? Perhaps ORTL is still smarting over conservative opposition to Medicaid expansion (why again is this a pro-life issue?). For those of us fighting hard for traditional marriage, the ORTL/Portman photos were, frankly, a blatant and deliberate insult.

But it didn’t end there. Portman met with leaders of Cleveland Right to Life, which represents eight counties in Northeast Ohio.  CRTL is one of those rare groups that understands the danger posed to families and children, and so recently broadened its mission statement to include opposition to same sex marriage, as well as continuing work to overcome abortion, euthanasia, and other threats to life. Other pro-life groups in Ohio have embraced the complete pro-family platform as well, including Ohio Pro-Life Action (the first to do so) and Lake County Right to Life.

The meeting between Portman and Cleveland Right to Life was reportedly cordial, but Portman was told that as CRTL endorsed candidates in the future, Portman would not be among them.

A news release from Cleveland Right to Life explains what happened next, as the powerful nationwide organization, National Right to Life, got involved:

“In an unprecedented move on July 17th, the National Right to Life Committee (NRTL) chose to support Senator Rob Portman’s newly expressed support of gay marriage and to withdraw support from one of the most effective prolife organizations in the country, Cleveland Right to Life (CRTL).”

In a letter dated July 17, 2013, the president of National Right to Life, Carol Tobias, informed CRTL President, Molly Smith, that because of their recent addition of support for traditional marriage and the family to its mission statement–and because of CRTL criticism of Senator Portman–CRTL would no longer be considered an Affiliate of NRTL.

Noted Smith,

“This letter, which was received well after the date on the letter, came without even a phone call or email from the NRTL organization. . . . In fact, we have become aware that copies of the letter were forwarded to Ohio prolife organizations from Senator Portman’s office before I had the opportunity to read it myself.”

Cleveland Right to Life went on to say that it “can only surmise from these facts that there was significant coordination between NRTL and Senator Portman’s office on this.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen spite as a ruling ethic of those who advocate for homosexuality. Portman could have just left well enough alone, agreeing to disagree with CRTL.

Unfortunately, as CRTL Board member Jerry Cirino noted,

“This entire salvo was the result of CRTL adding the marriage/family issue to its Mission Statement recently because the traditional family with a mother and a father is an inherent right of every child. . . . This is about supporting the family in America and any politician, including Portman, who supports the break-up of the American family and supports the denial of a mother and father for children has forfeited the right of support and endorsement of the prolife movement.”

Since embracing traditional marriage as part of its mission statement, CRTL says they have received widespread grassroots support and acquired new donors.

The situation is very troubling, and makes Portman appear to be intentionally divisive, destructive, and downright petty. I wonder who else is out there who would make a good senator?  Whoever it is, let’s be sure he or she is a solid, dependable conservative on the issues that threaten to seriously undermine families, freedom, and Christianity in the public square.


Linda Harvey holds a B.A. in English from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and has done graduate work at Miami, Ohio State University, and Trinity Lutheran Seminary. She is the wife of Tom Harvey and the mother of two children. They live in Columbus, Ohio.

All opinions expressed belong solely to their authors and may not be construed as the opinions of other writers or of OCR staff.

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