I’ll Take “Perspective” for $200, Alex.

Yesterday Portland area light rail expert and blogger MaxFAQs wrote an expose on how the upper management of our local transit agency has been simultaneously giving themselves raises (surreptitiously filed under “contingency”) while cutting services to poorer areas.  All the while they’re blaming this situation on the “Cadillac” health benefits of the unionized workers … while never stopping to consider the much more realistic possibility that it’s a result of their horrible mismanagement along with their treatment of the company not as a provider of transit but as a land development agency.

It’s a long story … but if you’re interested I recommend dropping by.  He’s the best source of information on Portland light rail.

The reason I bring this up is because 1) it’s local news and 2) I had left a comment to the effect that much like some of our Republican friends in Congress, people so high up in the managerial food chain at Trimet will never be in a position to suffer the ill effects of their bad policies.  It’s only when they have some sort of personal stake in the matter will they show any kind of change of heart or “reconsideration” of their position.

(I recall, for example, the occasional petitions for compulsory military service for the children of Congresspeople.  Wars would be a lot more carefully debated when it’s their children potentially going off to die.)

I bring to you – undoubtedly not for the first time – Republican Senator Robert Portman of Ohio, who recently recanted his personal and legislative opposition to same sex marriage after his son came out as homosexual back in 2011.  It took him a while to reconcile his feelings on it given his Methodist upbringing, but it sounds like the love he has for his son and his desire to see him treated as an equal member of society won out.

Rob Portman (R-OH). Photo from BBC

“I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married,” he wrote in an opinion piece for the Columbus Dispatch.  [This has the full text]

It’s great he feels this way now, but I still maintain that it shouldn’t take a personal stake in the matter for him to develop a little empathy and perspective on a particular topic … especially as a man who makes laws that affect the entire nation. Not that we haven’t heard the story before … John McCain’s stay in the Hanoi Hilton certainly cemented his position on torture “enhanced interrogation”, Mark Kirk’s severe health issues making him a fan of government-run Medicaid, while Dick Cheney’s love for both of his daughters drove him to support same sex marriage as well.  Now we have Portman. People have been asking if his son could “come out” as poor too; maybe that would help bump up the minimum wage, which hasn’t yet been successful.

I wonder if he thought his son’s homosexuality was the result of something he and his wife did in the process of raising him … or if they thought he had been abused … or if this were a simple choice on his part and not the way his brain is wired:

If you can voluntarily change your brainwaves to match that of the
opposite gender, then you belong in the Psi Corps.

Provided there is little risk for personal safety, the potential for this kind of change in worldview should encourage more people to come out.  (Easy for me to say.)  However, if the average person in this country were made fully aware of exactly how prevalent homosexuality is – and that they’re potential family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, politicians, etc. – they might realize that their hostility does real, measurable harm to people they know and care deeply about.

There’s always a chance they’ll go full asshole … like these folks …

… with my favorite being the guy at the end who says the Golden Rule isn’t enough.  I guess that’s because he says so.  Which brings me to my last comment. This was taken from the above editorial he wrote for the Columbus dispatch:

I wrestled with how to reconcile my Christian faith with my desire for Will to have the same opportunities to pursue happiness and fulfillment as his brother and sister. Ultimately, it came down to the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.

Well, it does now that the gay-hating part comes into direct conflict with another aspect of your life, I suppose.  As I said earlier, this man chose the love of his son over some of the less savory parts of the Old Testament he used to use as a moral compass.  That’s fine, but it’s just another example of someone throwing out parts of the bible he didn’t like and calling himself a Christian all the same.

Well, that’s enough.  I hope more lawmakers run into situations where bills they propose involving homosexuality, abortion, or contraception end up hurting someone they love.  If that’s the only way for them to get a better idea of what these laws really do to people, we might move them a little further to the left … and force them to pay a little more attention to the “love thy neighbor” parts of the bible for a change.

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4 Responses to I’ll Take “Perspective” for $200, Alex.

  1. Elyse says:

    I agree 100 percent. I swear, until these people (and I use that term in my very best Ann Romney voice) understand an issue, they are against it. Until it directly impact them, well it is a crime, it is a sin. They have a child with Down’s — FUNDING! They have mental health issues? FUNDING. Who was it that said it’s a shame they don’t give birth to poor kids. Then they might give a shit.

    Portman was up for the VP spot in 2012. Interesting that he didn’t mention his gay son then, isn’t it?

    • You know, I forgot about Sarah Palin’s kid too … same deal. To me, that trend only demonstrates the fact that (at least in this case) that there’s something to the socially liberal position. If conservatives begin to adopt it when they see the their approach hurting someone they care about, I think we’re on the right side of history. It reminds me of religion in general: non-believers don’t need the personal threat of damnation to understand that they need to do the right thing; some Christians, on the other hand, talk about how they’d be a completely different person if God wasn’t constantly watching over them. They need that personal stake as motivation because “it’s the right thing” isn’t enough.

  2. Pingback: The Progressive Stronghold of Montana | Crimes Against Divinity

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