Portman’s Gay Marriage Stance Sparks Conservative Backlash

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Sen. Rob Portman on Friday became the first Republican in the Senate to support gay marriage — and his switch set off harsh words from many conservatives.

“Sen. Portman is a great friend and ally, and the speaker respects his position,” Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, told Politico. “But the speaker continues to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said that it was Portman’s “prerogative” to change his views on same-sex marriage, but that the traditional definition of marriage won’t change “no matter what politicians decide.”

“I don’t think they have the power to change what is a religiously inspired definition,” the Georgia GOP leader told CNN.

And Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said to cheers at the Conservative Political Action Caucus in Washington: “Just because I believe that states should have the right to define marriage in a traditional way does not make me a bigot.” In an essay published on Friday in the Columbus Dispatch, the Ohio senator said that his reversal was based on him and his wife, Jane, learning two years ago that their son, Will, 21, was gay.

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