Have the past few weeks been a tipping point for the Republican Party on the issue of gay rights?
Several top Republicans have shifted their tone and position on issues like gay marriage and benefits for same-sex couples, which the GOP's social conservative base has staunchly opposed for years. But it remains unclear whether Republican officials who have changed their mind on gay rights will be able to bring the party's base with them.
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On Friday, Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) became perhaps the highest-profile Republican elected official to come out in support of gay marriage while in office.
Portman, who was in the running to become Mitt Romney's running mate last fall, shared that he changed his position after his son revealed to him he was gay.
"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," Portman wrote in an op-ed for the Columbus Dispatch.
Portman has never been a loud critic of gay marriage, but his voting record reflected his views. He voted the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the 1990s and a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman in 2004. But he said that his son's admission two years ago caused him to reconsider his views.
"Knowing that my son is gay prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective: that of a dad who wants all three of his kids to lead happy, meaningful lives with the people they love, a blessing [my wife] Jane and I have shared for 26 years," he wrote.
In an interview with CNN, Portman said he told Romney about his son's sexual orientation during the vice-presidential vetting process and that he consulted with former Vice President Dick Cheney, whose daughter Mary is a lesbian.
"He was a good person to talk to because he also was surprised by the news, in that case, you know, his wonderful daughter, who he loves very much. And it forced him to rethink the issue too, and over time, he changed his view on it," Portman said. "I followed his advice. You know, I followed my heart."
Portman, however, isn't ready to back federal action on gay marriage. He said that the states should be able to decide whether they want to grant marriage rights to same-sex couples.
"I believe change should come about through the democratic process in the states," Portman wrote in the Dispatch.
Even this week, Portman was not the only high-profile Republican to reconsider their stance on gay rights. GOP mega-donor Foster Friess, who helped fund socially-conservative stalwart Rick Santorum's 2012 bid for president, explained that he backs certain domestic benefits for same-sex couples. Federal benefits cannot be extended to same-sex couples under the Defense of Marriage Act.
"I think it's unfair that people can't give assets to whoever they want. When I die, my assets can go to my wife," he said in an interview with BuzzFeed. "And a gay person — you ought to have a system where maybe you can just say, 'You can give your assets to anybody you want.'"
Friess' own beliefs have also been shaped by a personal connection: his brother-in-law is gay.