By Peter Missouri
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), a staunch opponent of gay marriage rights, announced last week that he's changed his mind on the issue and now believes 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." Why? Because two years ago Senator Portman's son told him that he's gays, so the Midwest conservative suddenly remembered, "…the Bible's overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God." Senator Portman also added that Republicans should in fact join him in supporting gay marriage rights since "conservatives believe in personal liberty and minimal government interference in people's lives."
It's natural that our personal experiences shape our values, but a politician shouldn't need to be personally affected by every issue involving individual liberty in order to feel empathy for those that are deprived of this incredible aspect of our Constitution. Individual freedom and the right to pursue happiness constitute the foundation of the American value system and politicians should always aim to afford Americans more freedom and not less.
What Sen. Portman and his fellow Washington politicians fail to understand is that investing in job creating programs for Americans will downsize government involvement in our society because financial security leads to less people needing welfare programs. The Federal Department of Labor's Workforce Investment Act (WIA), for example, encourages Americans to get better jobs so that they move up the economic ladder beyond minimum wage and contribute as taxpaying members of society.
Unfortunately, for the last 5 years, Washington has done more to reward bad behavior than to encourage patriotic citizenship. They keep cutting the CSBG budget while rewarding businesses that send American jobs to other countries.
CSBGs help millions of American attain their personal freedom by investing in our economy through poverty prevention and education. These issues are vital for economic growth because our consumer economy needs more consumers and less people dependent on safety programs. We need more jobs and less poverty. Most Americans want to contribute to society, but not all have the opportunity to do so. Programs such as Head Start invest in American children so they can be a productive part of society.
CSBGs create individual freedom so I hope Sen. Portman remembers that during the upcoming budget talks. If that's not enough, then hopefully he'll remember "the Bible's overarching themes of love and compassion." Because no one needs more compassion than the most vulnerable in our society.