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U.S. Sen. Rob Portman disagrees with a federal judge on a same-sex marriage ruling



Published: Tue, April 15, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

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U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, a Republican, speaks with the editorial board Monday at The Vindicator.

By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Though he supports same-sex marriages, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman disagrees with a federal judge who ruled that Ohio must recognize those marriages performed in other states.

“I am, as you know, someone who believes that every state should be able to decide this,” Portman, a Cincinnati-area Republican, said Monday during a meeting with The Vindicator’s editorial board. “There shouldn’t be a federal government, judicial mandate, but rather it should be decided by the states.”

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black made the ruling Monday.

The decision doesn’t impact Ohio’s Defense of Marriage Act, approved in 2004 by voters, but the ruling would require the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states. Ohio plans to appeal the judge’s decision.

Portman came out in favor of same-sex marriage in March 2013, two years after one of his sons told him and his wife that he was gay.

“More and more people are recognizing that someone who is gay” should “have the ability to find that joy and stability that others of us who are heterosexual have found in marriage,” he said.

Public sentiment is moving toward accepting same-sex marriage, but it will take a while for it to become law in Ohio, Portman said.

But “at some point, Ohio’s going to” vote in favor of it, he said.

It’s much more accepted among young people, Portman said.

Portman spent Monday in Mahoning and Columbiana counties making stops to discuss workforce issues including his proposed bill to make federal job-training programs more responsive to the needs of the existing job market.

The senator praised the Mahoning Valley for its ability to have various entities in business and education work together.

“This region collaborates better than most of the ones I represent,” he said.

Portman is sponsoring a bill with U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, that would give local workforce boards a greater ability to coordinate efforts with federal job-training programs.

“We’re getting there, but it’s slow — too slow,” Portman said.

Local boards need “more flexibility” when it comes to using federal training dollars, he said.

Another issue Portman said he’s focusing on is getting people back into the workforce who have stopped working.

Portman spoke of his Second Chance Act that helps those who were formerly incarcerated to receive help getting job skills, stable housing, mental-health assistance and drug treatment.

A large number of those who get out of prison and look for work struggle to pass drug tests, Portman said.

The Second Chance Act invests in strategies to reduce recidivism and increase public safety, he said.


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