AKRON, Ohio - The stunning announcement by U.S. Sen. Rob Portman that he now supports same-sex marriage is creating a buzz on the campus of the University of Akron.
Some students are praising Portman for his reversal on the hotly-debated social issue, but others are calling him a hypocrite.
Portman publicly announced his new position after revealing that his son, Will Portman, is gay. Portman said Will, 21, came out as gay two years ago. At that time, the Republican senator from Ohio was against same-sex marriage.
To some UA students, the new stance didn't seem genuine.
"You're a Republican and all of a sudden you're against gay marriage... And then your son comes out and it's like you want to change your view. That's kind of hypocritical," said Ashlee Austin, a sophomore from Warren.
Michele Robin, the vice president of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Union, said was happily surprised by Portman's announcement and hopes his support is another step towards Ohio recognizing same-sex marriage.
"If you really think about it and you're a compassionate person, I think eventually you come to the position that you have to support it," Robin said.
Other students said they're happy Portman is supporting his son, but it doesn't change their views.
"I definitely believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. In the Bible, that's what it says," said Robbie Plants, a freshman from Massillon.
Portman was considered a front runner as a running mate on the Mitt Romney ticket last year.
David Cohen, a UA political science professor said Portman's reversal was "politically courageous", but could also damage his future prospects for Vice President or a Presidential run.
"The fact is he's going to make a lot of people in the conservative wing of the Republican party quite upset," Cohen said.
Portman is the the only Republican U.S. Senator to go on the record supporting same-sex marriage.
"This is really a matter of the heart and clearly he is very much a family man and wants to support his son publicly," Cohen said.
Cohen said Portman's flip-flop on the issue could create a slight movement among Republicans to soften their stance on social issues.
"If you just look at three, four or five years ago, the country was solidly against it. Now, every public opinion poll is showing a strong majority is in support of same-sex marriage, so it's going to be a popular move within the country as a whole," he said.
Nine U.S. states allow same-sex marriage.
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