I do not have children myself. However, what I do know from friends who are parents is that having kids and watching them grow into being their own person changes how a parent views things they once thought they had a handle on. While parents spend so much time and effort (and money) trying to teach their children they ways of the world, the children have the effect of teaching their parents. Often times, the child can open their parents‘ eyes to a perspective they may not have thought of as viable.
It was a major news story last month when Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) announced his support for marriage equality in the wake of his son Will coming out as gay about two years beforehand. The Senator is certainly not the first person to site a familial connection as the catalyst for supporting LGBT equality, nor will he be the last. Many people - be they public figures or private citizens - who once stood in opposition to equality viewed those issues differently when they could put faces on them as a result of someone close to them coming out of the closet.
For many people, even such a personal connection as a gay family member is not enough to induce open-mindedness. Case-in-point, Representative Matt Salmon Sr. (R-AZ). Like Portman, Salmon has a gay son (named Matt Jr.). Unlike Portman, Salmon is utterly unmoved on marriage equality, even though he has had more time with an openly gay son than Portman. Even though it takes longer for some folks to come around than others on any given topic, it appears that Rep. Salmon feels no need to make a change regardless of how the policies he advocates negatively effect his own flesh and blood.
What does it say about a parent when they are unable or unwilling to alter their views for the sake of their child‘s freedom and equality under the law? The bottom line is that a parent who is comfortable with the institutionalized discrimination their child faces is a prime example of poor parenting. It is hard to fathom that some people have such an unwavering disregard for the well-being of those they profess to love. On the positive side, in terms of the quest for LGBT equality, evidence points to Representative Salmon being far more the exception while Senator Portman is far more the rule.