Rob Has Left the Retention Cul-du-sac

It is amazing what I remember from Mrs. Haynes' Latin class while attending Mt. Lebanon High School over a half century ago. On every paper, test, or assignment, we had to write in the upper right-hand corner of the paper: LLT, which stands for her mantra that we had to repeat and believe in... Latin Lives Today.

Remembering Mrs. Haynes' mantra isn't a big deal, but I can still decline the demonstrative pronoun, this: hic, haec, hoc, huius, huius, huius...Additionally, I can still say and translate: Veni, vidi, vici, Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres, and alea iacta est. Those three statements were said by Caesar who graduated several years prior to me at Mt. Lebanon High School. I think that he also had Mrs. Haynes. Nevertheless, my Latin is still pretty good for a person who worked hard to get a C in second year Latin.

This is Julius Caesar's senior class picture the year he graduated from Mt. Lebanon. How salon.com got this photo of him is beyond me.

Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar

Will Rogers Will Rogers
Anyone, who has read anything that I have ever written in English about politics in America, will know that I'm not a conservative...far from it. Nonetheless, most of my readers didn't take Latin from Mrs. Haynes. The English word conservative comes from the Latin infinitive, conservare, which mean "to retain". Now, being one who retains is not a cutting-edge way of looking at life. I don't recall whether or not Will Rogers had Mrs. Haynes during the time when I was there, but he said something in English that I will never forget: "Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." That quote certainly reveals Rogers' Latin training. I somewhere came across the first draft of this quote in Latin. As I recall it was something like, "Si in ius gyro curre Donec eris si te istic sedere." However, I am not absolutely sure since it has been over 50-years since I took Latin.

If one wishes to retain the past, one must be sure that the past that is desired to be retained is worth retention. Then the one into retention must move ahead in the journey through life. If that retaining person just sits there, that person will have life run them over.

There are loads of issues that conservatives sit upon hoping against hope that they will be able to retain the past. Healthcare reform, equality of the races, equality of the sexes, etc. are all issues that conservative are still sitting upon. One additional issue is the gay issue. The conservative retainers simply wish gays would choose a different sexual orientation...meaning to choose to be straight.

Conservative politicians sit on the notion that our country is based upon the American family...meaning husband and wife and a couple of children. They attempt to defend the conservative notion of what the American family looked like when I was taking Latin from Mrs. Haynes. In that American family the husband went to work and the wife stayed at home and raised the children. When I was in high school, women teachers either weren't married or past their child bearing years. Outside of teachers, the only other major vocation of women were nurses.

In addition, that wonderful American family today represents only at best 50% of married couples. The divorce rate hovers at about that percentage. However, the conservatives wish to retain that American dream, which is a nightmare for many in America today.

The conservative retention of the past...even if it wasn't equalitarian or happy is like driving the myth into a cul-de-sac. It perpetuates the myth but gets nowhere...which is precisely the goal of the conservatives. Conservatives wish to rewrite history the way they would like it to be and then sit still and do nothing. Conservatives are in their cul-du-sac and don't want out of it.

Rob Portman Rob Portman
One such retainer of the American conservative myth was Mitt Romney who ran for president in 2012. One of the choices that he considered for a running-mate was Sen. Rob Portman. He was politically and socially conservative. I don't know why Romney didn't pick Portman, but Portman surely was conservative. Sen. Portman rattled his followers and those that would have never voted for him when he reversed his stand on same-sex marriages. Portman in 1996 helped write a bill banning same-sex marriages. In 1999, he voted for a bill not allowing same-sex couples to adopt children in Washington, DC. In speeches and interviews, it was clear that he backed the conservative agenda on gays and lesbians.

Then a couple of years ago, Portman's son, Will, came out of the closet to his parents. His son, who is a student at Yale, told his parents that he was gay. Interestingly, Will told his parents that he couldn't recall a time when he didn't feel that way.

I have been a licensed marriage and family therapist for nearly two-decades. I have worked with many gays and lesbians over the years. In all that time, I have never heard a client tell me that as an adult they decided to choose to be gay. They all say pretty much the same thing as did Will Portman. Most of my clients said that by the age of 5 that they knew that they were different than their friends of the same sex. At that age, the term homosexual wasn't understood, but they knew that they were different. It wasn't until usually their adolescence before they could relate being different to homosexuality.

Portman was surely rattled. A core belief of his didn't add up when it was applied to his family. He said, "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." He had to rethink his beliefs, his understanding of the Bible, and what he son was saying. That thinking process took two years and last week, he came out supporting his son's sexuality. I admire him for getting and being honest.

Portman added one additional thought to the decision, "I believe in some respects that this is more generational than it is partisan." I agree that the issue of equality for gays is accepted far more readily by the younger population regardless of political party. However, I am over a dozen years older than Portman and understand the issue. Therefore, the issue goes back to Will Rogers' comment about not sitting in the middle of the road of life...not thinking or moving ahead.

What rattles me is that Portman deals with his son's coming out by thinking about it, talking to others, and then announces his decision, which took two years of hurting on the inside. That did take guts. I admire him.

But the rest of the conservatives, the Republicans, the retaining group don't accept him. Well, they are not going to listen to me, but I will still warn them about what Will Rogers said. "Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." If you think you are correct, just don't sit there in the cul-de-sac not moving ahead or the progressives and the rest of the world will run you over.

Now, some will diss Portman for not dealing with an important issue until it hits home. To some extent that is true. We elect people to think sometimes outside the box when necessary. I'm not a politician, but I can think about issues even though I am not within a particular group. I'm not a female, but don't ever diss feminism around me. I'm not gay, but that warning applies to debating with me over gay and lesbian equality. One would think that in a perfect world, people would all think outside the box...but they don't and we don't live in a perfect world. We need to learn critical data, get up, and move ahead. As Tip O'Neil said, "All politics is local." Portman is moving ahead within his family. For that I am delighted.

As for other leaders, John Boehner said regarding Portman's decision, "I believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. It's what I grew up with. It's what I believe. It's what my church teaches me. And I can't imagine that position would ever change." Well, that is troubling. If what he grew up with, believes, and what his church teaches is the TRUTH, he is in trouble. Is he going to sit there and not learn or move ahead? Has he changed his beliefs about equality of the sexes or whether the earth is the center of the universe? His church was going to burn some liberal by the name of Galileo who thought the earth rotated around the sun.