POLITICS
03/19/2013 03:34 pm ET Updated Mar 19, 2013

Republican Senators Meet To Discuss Rob Portman's Shift On Marriage Equality

WASHINGTON -- Rob Portman (R-Ohio) met Tuesday with his fellow Senate Republicans to discuss his surprising shift on the issue of gay marriage, which he said came about last week after he learned that his son is gay.

His colleagues, Portman told reporters in the Capitol following the meeting, were personally supportive. "I thanked them, because I've had a number of people come up and express personal support for me and my family. And that's what I talked about. I circulated the op-ed so everybody saw it in my words," he said.

Asked whether the GOP's newly announced priority of reaching out to minority groups should include outreach to gays and lesbians, Portman demurred at first. "Well, look, the party's got to decide that. I made this decision on a personal basis," he said. But if the party needs a nudge, Portman offered one: "I think you stated it well," he told the reporter.

Did any of his colleagues appear to be rethinking the issue themselves? "I don't think so," said Portman.

Learning that his son is gay led Portman to think about marriage equality, he told Ohio reporters last week, from a "new perspective."

"It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective, and that's of a dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have -- to have a relationship like Jane and I have had for over 26 years," Portman said.

But on Tuesday, Portman indicated that it was less a case of thinking about it differently, and more of simply never having given it much thought.

HuffPost asked whether Portman wishes it hadn't required a personal experience with the issue to alter his position on the issue. "Well, it did," he said. He headed toward the Senate floor after responding, then paused and turned back to give a fuller answer to the question.

"I'm more of an economic policy wonk. That's always been my background and focus: budget issues and economic growth issues," he said. "That's just where I was."

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