Ohio Gov. John Kasich dished out some advice to his Grand Old Party: Get out of the 198os and join the 21st century.
At a campaign appearance for Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Rob Portman on Thursday, Kasich felt compelled to add his two cents to a question from the Dayton Daily News about gay rights.
“The Republican Party cannot be stuck in the 1980s,” said Kasich, praising Portman for addressing issues such as gay rights, environmental protection and drug addiction.
“I’m not in the 80s. I live in the 21st century and he is a senator who understands the things that need to be done and the agenda that we need to have to move not only the party forward but, more importantly, the country forward,” Kasich said.
“The question you just asked him about discrimination against the gay community is another issue where he has been in front of other people. That’s what the party needs.”
He added of Portman: “He is a modern 21st century United States senator, and that’s why it’s so important that he is able to be re-elected.”
Portman is running for re-election against former Ohio governor Ted Strickland, a Democrat.
In March 2013, Portman reversed his opposition to gay marriage after his son, Will, then a junior at Yale University, came out to his parents as gay. Portman’s reversal drew fire from conservative political corners within his own party. Nine months later, Portman voted in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, federal legislation to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace.
“I was a leader in getting ENDA done in the U.S. Senate, so without my help we wouldn’t have had the Republican support to get to the 60 votes, and that was historic,” Portman said on Thursday. “We’ll continue to work on that agenda as well. I believe you ought to respect people for who they are and I’m proud of that.”
ENDA has stalled in the U.S. House and similar bills in the Ohio General Assembly have failed to gain traction.
In June 2015 in a case originating in Ohio, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the right for same-sex couples to marry is constitutionally guaranteed.