Last week, Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio announced that he had reversed his position on same-sex marriage. The reason was that his son had come out to him and his wife as gay.
This is not the first such instance. Periodically, we hear about Republican politicians whose child announces that he or she is gay, prompting the parent to change his mind about the man-woman definition of marriage.
As a parent, I understand these parents. We love our children, and we want them to love us.
Nevertheless I differ with their decisions to support the redefinition of marriage.
In order to explain why, let's analyze some of Senator Portman's words:
"I'm announcing today a change of heart ... "
These words are well chosen. Senator Portman's position is indeed "a change of heart." That's why he didn't say "change of mind." His change comes from his heart.
In this regard, Portman speaks for virtually every progressive/left/liberal position on virtually every subject. To understand leftism -- not that the senator has become a leftist, but he has taken the left-wing position on redefining marriage -- one must understand that above all else leftism is rooted in emotion, not reason. That is why left-wing social positions always refer to compassion and fairness -- for blacks, for illegal immigrants, for poorer people and, of course, for gays. Whether a progressive position will improve or harm society is not a progressive question. That is a conservative question. What matters to progressives is whether a position emanates from compassion.
Progressives do not seem to recognize that in life there is always tension between standards and compassion. Standards, by definition, cannot allow for compassion for every individual. If society were to show compassion to every individual, it would have no standards. Speeding laws are not waived for the unfortunate soul who has to catch an important flight. Orchestral standards are not waived for the musician who has devoted his or her life to studying an instrument, is a wonderful person and needs the job to support a family.
It is either right to maintain the man-woman definition of our most important social institution, or is it not. We cannot base our decision on compassion for gays, whether the gay is our child, our sibling, our friend or anyone else.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”