48 down, 1 dozen to go

Every day, it seems, another politician converts to the cause, either out of moral revelation or the revelation inspired by polls.

Just last week, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, defied the party line when he came out in favor of gay marriage. He has a gay son and says he wants his son to be treated fairly.

"We conservatives believe in personal liberty and minimal government interference in people's lives," he wrote in an op-ed in the Columbus Dispatch. "... We should encourage people to make long-term commitments to each other and build families, so as to foster strong, stable communities and promote personal responsibility."

Before Portman could grasp what justice looks like for gay people, he had to see it up close and personal. That's OK. We all have different learning styles.

And all of us are learning.

Support for same-sex marriage is on the rise in virtually every category of Americans: liberals, conservatives, Catholics, evangelical Protestants, whites, nonwhites.

A Washington Post-ABC poll released this week shows 58 percent of Americans think gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry under the law. Among people 18-29, eight in 10 are for it. The numbers are on the rise in Illinois too.

So if you're worried what your constituents will think, be assured that what they think is changing.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a civil rights leader, used to borrow a line from an abolitionist Unitarian preacher that is now so famous it's a bumper sticker: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

You, the 12 of you, whoever you are:

When you are old, looking back on life, don't you want to know that you helped bend the arc in the right direction?

mschmich@tribune.com

CHICAGO

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