Citing Obama’s position, he said, “It’s more a separation of powers issue than it is anything else.” Lankford said other Republicans have supported same-sex marriage, so “this is not anything new.”
In another legal matter — California’s ban on same-sex marriage — all 21 state attorneys general who have signed legal briefs or letters urging the Supreme Court to uphold the law are Republican.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday: “What is clear is that we are witnessing a pretty significant sociological shift in this country.”
“It’s happening right before our eyes in a way that says a lot about our country, that we have a country where we prioritize equality and fairness,” he said.
Obama said last year he personally supports gay marriage, a step some liberals called overdue.
Polls show that public opinions on gay rights, including same-sex marriage, have shifted perhaps more rapidly than on any other major issue in recent times. In Gallup polling last November, 53 percent of adult Americans said same-sex marriages should be granted the same status as traditional marriages, while 46 percent felt they should not be valid.
Those figures were nearly reversed two years earlier. In 1996, when Gallup first asked about gay marriages, 27 percent felt they should be valid.
Many social and religious conservatives still oppose gay marriage. Some spoke up at the Conservative Political Action Conference, which was under way Friday in suburban Washington.
Randy Smith, a technology entrepreneur from California, said Portman’s decision violates key conservative principles.
“Conservative values are based on God’s word,” Smith said. “If he is professing to be a Christian, I’d have no part of him.”
Arne Owens, a “pro-family movement” activist from Virginia, said Portman’s shift “does make it harder to maintain support for traditional marriage. There’s no question about that.”