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Last week the conservative world was roiled by prominent Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s dramatic reversal on the issue of gay marriage. Having learned two years earlier that his son, a college junior, is gay, Portman says he struggled deeply with the issue—and finally pulled a Dick Cheney, coming out politically in favor of the same-sex marriages that many grassroots conservatives find viscerally abhorrent. In an op-ed explaining his reasoning, Portman noted that he and his wife were “surprised to learn” that their son is gay—but added that they now have “a more complete picture of the son we love.”
Here’s an interesting question: How do conservatives arrive at their assumptions about who is or isn’t gay—in the absence of those people coming out to them directly?
A new paper just out in the March issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology casts surprising light on this subject.
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