The necessity of respecting equality under the law

Rainbow elephant

Respect for equality should be a bipartisan belief.


DOMA is a legislative reflection of the discrimination that forces hundreds of thousands of gay and lesbian children to remain hidden in the closet living in shame of who they are. Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-OH) evolution on the issue of marriage equality–from opponent to advocate–followed a deeply personal conversation he had with his son two years ago. It’s a conversation countless families must grapple with and a conversation that now underscores the disconnect between the head and the heart of conservatism’s view of marriage equality at a pivotal moment in the debate.

Though Portman’s experience is heartening, Americans must demand more from their leaders than public acknowledgement of private family truths. Portman, Vice President Dick Cheney and the recent wave of prominent conservatives coming out in support of equality should be commended for demonstrating a commitment to family above the politics of the moment. Still, respecting equality under the law should be a basic qualification for office, not an epiphany a lawmaker experiences after recognizing that inequality hurts the people he loves and the millions of parents and children he serves.


Jon Shields is a Special Assistant for the Communications team at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

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