Tag Archives: son

Bush 41 unloads with critique of Cheney, Rumsfeld

Former President George H. W. Bush has finally revealed what he really thinks of his son’s presidency, faulting George W. Bush for setting an abrasive tone on the world stage and failing to rein in hawkish Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense chief Donald Rumsfeld.

In a years-long series of interviews with biographer Jon Meacham, the elder Bush frowned on the sometimes “hot rhetoric” of George W. Bush, saying such language may get headlines “but it doesn’t necessarily solve the diplomatic problem.”

The elder Bush faulted Cheney and Rumsfeld for their “iron-ass” views, calling Rumsfeld an “arrogant fellow” and saying Cheney had changed markedly from the days when he served in the first Bush administration.

As vice president, Cheney “had his own empire there and marched to his own drummer,” the elder Bush said, adding: “He just became very hard-line and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked with.”

Ultimately, the elder Bush assigned fault to his son for Cheney’s over-reach and for fostering a global impression of American inflexibility.

“It’s not Cheney’s fault, it’s the president’s fault,” the elder Bush said. “The buck stops there.”

For all of that, though, the elder Bush did not suggest that he disagreed with his son’s decision to invade Iraq, saying Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein “is gone, and with him went a lot of brutality and nastiness and awfulness.”

The assessments are contained in Meacham’s 800-plus page “Destiny and Power,” the fullest account yet of Bush, the only modern ex-president not to write a full-length memoir. Meacham, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his Andrew Jackson biography “American Lion,” draws on Bush’s diaries and on interviews he conducted with Bush from 2006-2015. The book is being publicly released on Tuesday.

Jeb Bush, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, said he hadn’t read the book but he showed no inclination to echo his father’s criticisms.

“My thought was that Dick Cheney served my dad really well,” Bush said in an Associated Press interview Thursday in New Hampshire. “As vice president, he served my brother really well. Different eras. Different times.”

George W. Bush, too, was measured in his reaction, saying in a statement that he was “proud to have served with Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld. Dick Cheney did a superb job as vice president, and I was fortunate to have him by my side throughout my presidency.  Don Rumsfeld ably led the Pentagon and was an effective secretary of defense.”

In the book, George W. Bush was asked about his father’s criticisms of his own language and allowed that his rhetoric had been “pretty strong.” But he was unrepentant on that count.

“They understood me in Midland,” he said, referring to the Texas town where he was raised.

The elder Bush, for his part, said he wasn’t sure what had changed Cheney, but added that he thought the Sept. 11 attacks had made him more hawkish about the use of U.S. military force abroad.

“Just iron-ass,” the elder Bush said. “His seeming knuckling under to the real hard-charging guys who want to fight about everything, use force to get our way in the Middle East.

The elder Bush also speculated that the views of the vice president’s wife, Lynne, and daughter Liz may have contributed to Cheney’s rightward turn.

“Lynne Cheney is a lot of the eminence grise here _ iron-ass, tough as nails, driving,” Bush said. “But I don’t know.” He said daughter Liz Cheney also was “tough” and influential in her father’s administration.

As for Rumsfeld, Bush said he had “served the president badly. I don’t like what he did, and I think it hurt the president having his iron-ass view of everything.”

“There’s a lack of humility, a lack of seeing what the other guy thinks,’ Bush said of Rumsfeld. “He’s more kick ass and take names, take numbers. I think he paid a price for that.”

Rumsfeld responded in a statement: “Bush 41 is getting up in years and misjudges Bush 43, who I found made his own decisions.”

Emails and phone calls to several contacts for the Cheney family were not immediately returned. But Meacham gave Cheney a chance to respond in the book to Bush’s criticisms. Meacham wrote that Cheney smiled and murmured “fascinating” after reading a transcript of Bush’s comments.

“No question I was much harder-line after 9-11,” Cheney said, adding that the younger Bush wanted him to play a significant role on national security.

“I do disagree with his putting it on Lynne and Liz,” he added.

The book suggests that Jeb Bush isn’t the only member of the current presidential field who has long had an interest in the White House. The elder Bush writes that when he was a presidential candidate in 1988, Donald Trump made an overture to be his vice presidential candidate, an idea that Bush found “strange and unbelievable.”

Bush also traces his own evolution in thinking about gay marriage, writing: “Personally, I still believe in traditional marriage. But people should be able to do what they want to do, without discrimination. People have a right to be happy. I guess you could say I have mellowed.”

Joe Biden won’t seek presidential nomination in 2016

In remarks made in the Rose Garden at the White House on Oct. 21, Vice President Joe Biden said he would not seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2016.

A movement had been underway to “draft” Biden into the race for the nomination, which currently includes Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee.

The following are Biden’s remarks at the news conference:

As the family and I have worked through the grieving process, I’ve said all along what I’ve said time and again to others: that it may very well be that that process, by the time we get through it, closes the window on mounting a realistic campaign for president. That it might close.

I’ve concluded it has closed. I know from previous experience that there’s no timetable for this process. The process doesn’t respect or much care about things like filing deadlines or debates and primaries and caucuses.

But I also know that I could do this if the — I couldn’t do this if the family wasn’t ready. The good news is the family has reached that point, but as I’ve said many times, my family has suffered loss … and I hope there would come a time … that, sooner rather than later, when you think of your loved one, it brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eyes. 

Well, that’s where the Bidens are today. Thank god. Beau — Beau is our inspiration. 

Unfortunately, I believe we’re out of time, the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination. But while I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent. 

I intend to speak out clearly and forcefully to influence as much as I can where we stand as a party and where we need to go as a nation. And this is what I believe. 

I believe that President Obama has led this nation from crisis to recovery and we’re now on the cusp of resurgence. I’m proud to have played a part in that. This party, our nation, will be making a tragic mistake if we walk away or attempt to undo the Obama legacy. 

The American people have worked too hard, and we have have come too far for that. Democrats should not only defend this record and protect this record. They should run on the record.

Walking with my mother in her heart-breaking decline

All life cycles have watershed moments, times when another bridge has been irrevocably crossed. In the life of a child, that moment is often a joyful one. But for an elderly parent, life proceeds in reverse, leading often to sorrowful conclusions. 

My mother Liz, who is 93 years old, reached one of those watershed moments one night three years ago. 

We had moved my mother from Milwaukee to a senior housing complex near our Madison home five years earlier. My wife Jean and I had visited her twice that Sunday to address various issues. She seemed strange, but we weren’t yet seasoned enough to understand what was wrong.

After her third call, we returned to find Mom sitting in her nightgown on her bed, with three television and cable system remotes and three cordless telephones alongside her. We realized that something was happening.

Jean began to remove the clutter, which snapped Mother out of her stupor,

“Don’t touch those,” she said anxiously. “Those are my phones!”

Some were her phones, and some weren’t. Due to their similar shape and color, she could no longer tell the difference. We bundled her up and took her to the nearest emergency room.

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More than 10 million adult children over 50 care for aging parents, according to a 2011 study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute. Baby Boomers comprise the majority of caregivers. The number of parents cared for both physically and financially by their kids has more than tripled over the past 15 years.

Not surprisingly, daughters tend to provide more care than sons and suffer more financially because of it. On average, the amount of lost wages, pension dollars and Social Security benefits for women forced to leave the workforce early to provide care totals $324,044, according to the study. Men suffer less financially, but it still costs them an average of $283,716 in aggregate salary and benefit losses to care for elderly parents.

A disproportionate number of boomers caring for parents are gay and lesbian, according to John George, health care administrator for Saint John’s On The Lake, a retirement community of 330 residents on Milwaukee’s east side.

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Upon reaching the hospital that Sunday night, my mother was diagnosed with dehydration and a urinary tract infection, both of which accounted for her confusion. But we would soon discover she also suffered from transient ischemic attacks, often called TIAs or “mini-strokes.” Those would lead to more dire consequences. 

TIAs are caused by blood clots that come and go in the brain. Some are relatively harmless, while others can be precursors to larger, fatal strokes. A series of TIAs followed by a large stroke killed Mom’s older brother Harold decades earlier. We felt that a similar outcome was possible, if not imminent, for her.

While doctors worked to get her situation under control, we made arrangements to move Mom temporarily to a nursing home for rehabilitation. A former RN, my mother had worked at Sunrise Care Center on Milwaukee’s south side until she was almost 86. We thought she’d be comfortable with the transition.

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Transitions to some level of assisted living are often the most difficult things for families to cope with, according to Elaine Dyer, a registered nurse and administrator for the Jewish Home and Care Center, a 160-bed retirement community also on Milwaukee’s east side. Large families often have the hardest time agreeing on what should be done with an elderly parent.

“When there’s more than one child, there’s always more than one opinion,” Dyer says. “As caregivers, we need a point person whose guidance we can rely on, and that person needs to be the patient’s health care power of attorney in order to make the right decisions.”

Dyer’s own mother was a resident at the Jewish Home until she passed away from Alzheimer’s disease last October, and the administrator is acutely aware of how hard the “little losses” of cognitive decline can be on family members.

“Watching cognitive decline is harder than watching physical decline,” Dyer says. “The elderly begin to lose the abilities you gain as a child, including swallowing, talking, walking, bowl and bladder control.”

In terms of providing care, Wisconsin’s 323 nursing homes serve only about 5 percent of the state’s population over 65, Dyer says. The surprising statistic is mostly due to finances. Owing to the recent financial recession, admissions to skilled care facilities have declined over the past four to five years, because too many families need their parents’ Social Security checks to make ends meet.

And then there’s the cost of putting those parents in a skilled care facility.

“The cost for nursing home care is $8,000 to $10,000 a month, and even the wealthiest person who has saved for it could one day run out of money,” Dyer says.

But before that happens, adult children should make sure they understand what their aging parents want and then make those ultimate decisions based on that guidance, she adds.

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Mom spent two weeks in the nursing home, eventually returning to a variant of her former self. But we knew that bridges had been crossed and things would never be the same again.

During my mother’s nursing home stay, we found her an assisted living facility on Madison’s west side. We moved her out of her senior apartment, disposing of furniture and other things she no longer needed. During the grueling two-week process, we discovered clues to her cognitive failure that weren’t previously apparent.

Dozens of unopened bottles of generic acetaminophen and countless file cards and paper scraps with duplicate addresses and phone numbers she didn’t want to forget filled nooks and crannies. We discovered boxes of junk mail — her “bills” as she called them — including some stored in the unused dishwasher. We found cash in the refrigerator.

Mom appeared to be settling in nicely to her assisted living facility, making new friends and regularly eating a healthy diet, something she had also stopped doing in her apartment. There were even activities and outings, but over the course of two years we could see that she had started slowing down.

When construction began on the facility’s new addition, we saw her confusion and anxiety increase. A series of three UTIs in as many months seemed to send her to the moon and back again — not to mention the hospital — on a regular basis. 

George notes that a change in a senior’s environment can result in “transfer trauma” and a large percentage of sufferers are usually dead within a year. When her strange behavior continued, we began to wonder just how long her future would be.

My mother called me on the telephone last week. 

“Mike? This is Grandma,” she said. “If you are out can you stop by? I haven’t had a working phone all day.”

And so, once again, it begins. I don’t want to spend Mothers’ Day at the hospital this year, but maybe just having one more Mother’s Day anywhere is the best I can hope for.

Palin defends photos of son standing on family dog, PETA responds

Former vice presidential candidate and right-wing pundit Sarah Palin is feuding with PETA over criticism of photos she posted on social media of her son standing on the family dog.

Palin, on social media on New Year’s Day, posted photos of her 6-year-old son using the dog as a “stepping stone” instead of a “stumbling block.” 

There was a backlash, including from PETA, which in a statement said, “It’s odd that anyone — let alone a mother — would find it appropriate to post such a thing, with no apparent sympathy for the dog in the photo.

“Then again, PETA, along with everyone else, is used to the hard-hearted, seeming obliviousness of this bizarrely callous woman, who actually thought it appropriate to be filmed while turkeys were being slaughtered right behind her in full view of the camera.”

Palin responded with a statement on Facebook: “Dear PETA, Chill. At least Trig didn’t eat the dog.” This was in reference to Barack Obama, who said he ate dog as a child living in Indonesia.

Palin also stated, “Hey, by the way, remember your ‘Woman of the Year,’ Ellen DeGeneres? Did you get all wee-wee’d up when she posted this sweet picture?” She was referring to a photograph on DeGeneres’ Twitter account that showed a child standing on a dog to reach a sink, like the photograph of Palin’s son.

The former Alaska governor said her family’s pets are “loved, spoiled and cared for more than some people care for their fellow man whose politics may not mesh with nonsensical liberally failed ways or don’t fit your flighty standards.” 

PETA rallied, sending back a message: “PETA simply believes that people shouldn’t step on dogs, and judging by the reaction that we’ve seen to Sarah Palin’s Instagram photo, we’re far from alone in that belief. Palin’s Facebook response shows us that she knows PETA about as well as she knows geography. Yes, we campaign against the Iditarod because when the dogs aren’t being driven — sometimes to death — most live chained or inside cages for their entire lives. And we’re a vegan organization, so we sit on pleather couches, wear stylish vegan kicks, and consider fish friends, not food. (Also, by the way, we just sent a case of vegan caviar to Vladimir Putin — and no, you can’t see his house from yours, Ms. Palin.) We have no reason to believe that the Palin companion animals aren’t ordinarily pampered, and we wish the entire family a peaceful and humane 2015.”

The Palin’s family dog is named “Jill Hadassah.” Palin said the family adopted the dog for son Trig, who has Down Syndrome.

United Methodist minister on trial for officiating at the wedding of his gay son

A United Methodist minister who officiated at his son’s same-sex wedding pleaded not guilty this week to charges that he broke his pastoral vows.

The Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon entered his plea at the beginning of a high-profile church trial in southeastern Pennsylvania that is rekindling debate over the denomination’s policy on gay marriage.

Schaefer could face punishment ranging from a reprimand to losing his minister’s credentials if a jury composed of fellow Methodist clergy convicts him of breaking church law that bans clergy from performing same-sex weddings.

The church’s attorney, the Rev. Christopher Fisher, told the 13-member jury in his opening statement that Schaefer clearly violated the Methodist Book of Discipline by presiding over the 2007 ceremony in Massachusetts. He said the complainant — a member of Schaefer’s congregation — was dismayed and shocked when he learned of the ceremony earlier this year.

Schaefer blessed a union that has been “declared by the United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teaching,” said Fisher, echoing the language of the Methodists’ book of law and doctrine.

Schaefer’s attorney, the Rev. Robert Coombe, told the jury that Schaefer had simply extended God’s love to his son.

“It’s important to him to practice in his family what he preached to his congregation,” Coombe said. “He did this wedding as an act of love and not as an act of rebellion.”

Dozens of Schaefer’s supporters held signs and sang hymns outside the trial, which is being held at a Methodist retreat about 60 miles east of his church, wearing rainbow stoles, holding signs and singing hymns.

“I’m in support of the church becoming a new church that welcomes everyone,” said Bunnie Bryant, 64, of West Chester, who was holding a sign that said: “Law or love? Jesus chose love.” She continued, “I question the church’s law trumping a father’s love.”

But a pastor who’s also attending the trial said that it isn’t about gay rights, but rather about Schaefer’s breaking of church law and his pastoral vows.

The Rev. Judy Kehler-Shirey, a retired Methodist minister who has attended Schaefer’s church, said she personally disagrees with the church’s policy on gay marriage but would not officiate at a same-sex wedding.

“I have a vow that is connected to all the other United Methodist pastors internationally. We have a covenant to follow the Discipline whether we agree with it or not,” she said. “That has to take priority.”

The nation’s largest mainline Protestant denomination accepts gay and lesbian members, but it rejects the practice of homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

Schaefer has said he informed his superiors in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference that he planned to officiate his son’s wedding, and again after the ceremony, which took place at a restaurant near Boston.

He faced no discipline until April – less than a month before the church’s six-year statute of limitations was set to expire – when one of his congregants filed a complaint.

Schaefer could have avoided a trial if he had agreed to never again perform a same-gender wedding, but he declined because three of his four children are gay.

A Methodist trial resembles a secular trial in many ways, with counsel representing each side, a judge and jury, opening statements and closing arguments, and testimony and evidence. Schaefer can appeal a conviction, but neither the church nor the person who brought the charge may appeal an acquittal.

Magic Johnson’s son talks about being gay

The 20-year-old son of basketball great Magic Johnson is surprised by the public interest in his being gay, something that he revealed to his supportive family several years ago.

Earvin Johnson III, known as E.J., says he feels like he’s coming out of the closet a second time and that he’s “reveling” in the experience – even though news of his sexual orientation broke publicly sooner than he had planned.

In an interview posted on April 16 on the YouTube.com talk show “Gwissues,” Johnson said that he didn’t feel violated after TMZ recently revealed that he’s gay.

“I always wanted to come into the spotlight,” he said. “I always had dreams and plans of doing my own thing and creating my own image, so it came a little sooner than I thought it would but this is still something I knew I would be going through and would have to experience.”

The younger Johnson is a junior at New York University studying event management and design with an interest in fashion, journalism and media.

He said the public reaction has ranged from support to criticism, including online postings involving “nasty things about me and what I’m doing.”

“It’s almost like they’re attacking me for being me and so to that I can only say, `Well, I can only be myself, so I don’t know really what you want me to do,'” he told “Gwissues” host and interviewer Howard Bragman, a publicist who recently began representing Johnson.

Johnson’s father, who co-owns the Los Angeles Dodgers, retired from the NBA in November 1991 after announcing he had HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. His wife, Cookie, was pregnant with E.J. at the time. The couple also has an adopted daughter, Elisa, and Magic has an older son, Andre, from a previous relationship.

“I am very, very, very blessed to have the family that I do,” E.J. Johnson said. “My parents have always been super supportive. My sister and I have always been really close and she’s been really supportive as with my brother. When it was time to come out, I was, obviously, scared as most people are. After I got all the love and support from my family then I knew I could go out and conquer the world, I guess.”

Johnson said he first came out to his mother, who approached him when he was 13 or 14.

“I told her how I was feeling and she obviously told me that she had known and always would love me anyway. The same thing happened with my dad like a year or so later,” he said. “Everyone has to get used to it. No parent is prepared 100 percent and fully for something like that. We all had to work and move forward.”

He’d like to follow in his famous father’s footsteps in one arena: hosting his own talk show. Magic Johnson had a short-lived show on Fox in 1998 that was canceled because of low ratings.

E.J. Johnson said he’d like to be “the voice for young gay people who need someone to be on TV or wherever else to talk to them and talk about all kinds of issues that all of us face and not just homosexual issues but all kinds of issues.”

“I definitely want to set a really good example,” he said.

Ohio GOP chairman says party supports Sen. Portman

The chairman of the Ohio Republican Party said the state GOP will continue to stand behind U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, who has announced he now supports same-sex marriage.

Chairman Bob Bennett acknowledged some Republicans will disagree with Portman’s decision, but Bennett said he respects the junior senator’s right to make up his own mind.

“Certainly, you can’t question Rob’s conservative credentials when it comes to issues affecting the Republican Party,” Bennett said in an interview. “I think we’ll be fine. And the party is a big tent. We welcome people holding a wide range of positions on some very difficult issues.”

Still, Bennett said the state GOP received a flurry of phone calls for about two hours from people upset about Portman’s stance. But he said the calls were fewer in number than those offering their opinions on Republican Gov. John Kasich’s state budget proposal.

The calls about Portman quickly died down. “So I’m not sure how big of an issue it is among the Republican family right now,” he said.

Portman told reporters last week in Washington that his views began changing in 2011 when his college-age son, Will, told his parents he was gay. In an op-ed published Friday in The Columbus Dispatch, he said the decision came after much thought.

“I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married,” he wrote.

As a member of the House in 1996, Portman voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman and bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage. Portman’s reversal makes him the only Senate Republican to back gay marriage.

Asked whether Portman’s decision would change the level of financial support or help from the state GOP party, Bennett said, “Absolutely not.”

Portman does not face re-election until 2016. He won his seat in 2010 with almost 57 percent of the vote.

A group working to overturn Ohio’s ban on same-sex marriage praised Portman’s comments, as did Ohio’s senior senator, Democrat Sherrod Brown.

“I look forward to working with him to ensure that all Americans have the ability to marry, regardless of whom they love or where they live,” Brown said in a written statement.

Brown voted against DOMA while he was a member of the U.S. House.

Portman also told reporters he would back overturning Ohio’s state ban on same-sex marriage if it comes up in a voter referendum.

“I’m going to be supportive of Ohioans having the opportunity to marry,” he said. “I would not plan to take a leadership role in this, but people will know my position.”

The leader of a conservative group that promoted passage of the state’s 2004 amendment to ban gay marriage said the stance will affect Portman’s political future.

“I can almost assure you, based on what I’m hearing right now, that he’s going to have competition in the primary,” said Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values.

Burress’ group, based in the northern Cincinnati suburb of Sharonville, helped rally a strong turnout among Christian evangelical voters for the amendment to the Ohio Constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The turnout added crucial votes for President George W. Bush’s narrow victory in Ohio that clinched his re-election.

Burress has known Portman for more than 20 years, and said the senator informed him Thursday night about his decision. He said he feels Portman let a family situation affect the way he conducts his politics.

“If you’re going to be a Republican, you can’t be wrong on our core issues,” he said.

Reaction from the governor’s office and other leading Ohio Republicans was more toned down.

Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said in an email: “That’s not the governor’s position but he respects the senator’s decision and wishes him and his family well.”

Doug Preisse, a county GOP chairman in central Ohio who’s openly gay, said he expects Portman’s stance will spark debate on the topic within the party.

“There’s certainly going to be Republicans who are going to hail this as progress and there will be others who criticize it _ but within the party there’s room for that,” said Preisse, who heads the Franklin County Republican Party.

“I would say, too, that the reaction to this announcement is different today than it would have been 20 years ago,” Preisse added. “And it’s probably going to be different in 20 years than it is today.”

Sen. Rob Portman comes out for marriage equality

Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman is now supporting gay marriage and says his reversal on the issue began when he learned one of his sons is gay.

Ohio’s junior senator disclosed his change of heart in interviews with several Ohio newspapers and CNN. In an op-ed published today (March 15) in The Columbus Dispatch he said the decision came after a lot of thought.

“I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married,” he wrote.

As a member of the House in 1996, Portman voted in favor of the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman and bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

Portman said his views on gay marriage began changing in 2011 when his son, Will, then a freshman at Yale University, told his parents he was gay and that it wasn’t a choice but “part of who he was.” Portman said he and his wife, Jane, were surprised but also supportive.

He said it prompted him to reconsider gay marriage from a different perspective, that of a father who wants all three of his children to have happy lives with people they love.

He said he talked to his pastor and to people on both sides of the gay marriage issue, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who is opposed to same-sex marriage, and former Vice President Dick Cheney, who supports it. Cheney’s daughter is a lesbian.

Portman told reporters on March 14 that his previous views on marriage were rooted in his Methodist faith.

“Ultimately, for me, it came down to the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God,” he wrote.

The well-known Ohio conservative, a former U.S. trade representative and White House budget chief, was considered but not chosen as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s running mate. Portman told the newspapers Romney was informed about Will’s sexuality last year.

Portman’s reversal comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments this month in a challenge to a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Portman said he would like Congress to repeal the provision of the DOMA that bans federal recognition of gay marriage, though he still supports the part of the law that says states should not be forced to recognize such marriages.

A group working to overturn Ohio’s ban on same-sex marriage praised Portman’s comments.

National LGBT leaders also praised the announcement, including Chad Griffin at the Human Rights Campaign, who said, “Like countless dads across the country, Sen. Portman has made the basic and courageous choice to put parenting before politics. When it comes to marriage equality, all Americans are on the same journey toward recognizing our common humanity. But while 8 in 10 Americans know a gay or lesbian person, it still takes unique courage to speak out publicly for equality. We are very grateful to Senator Portman for his virtuous stand in support of this civil rights cause.”

Elton John, David Furnish welcome 2nd son

Elton John and David Furnish have become parents for a second time.

The couple say they are “overwhelmed with happiness” at the birth of Elijah Joseph Daniel Furnish-John.

John’s spokeswoman Fran Curtis confirmed an announcement on the singer’s website that the baby was born on Jan. 11 in Los Angeles. The infant, born to a surrogate mother, weighs 8 pounds, 4 ounces.

John, who is 65, and 50-year-old Furnish wed in a British civil partnership in 2005 and are parents to 2-year-old Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John, born in California in December 2010, also through a surrogate mother.

John told The Guardian newspaper last year that he hoped to have a sibling for Zachary because “it’s difficult to be an only child, and to be an only child of someone famous.”

John and Furnish told Hello! magazine that “the birth of our second son completes our family in a most precious and perfect way.”

hello

Dad’s will calls for gay son to marry a woman

A gay man and his longtime partner decide to become parents using a surrogate mother. Shortly after their son is born, the couple gets married.

But there’s a catch for this modern family: A will left by the man’s wealthy father decrees that he must marry the mother for the child to collect an inheritance.

That quandary has prompted the man, Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Robert M. Mandelbaum, to contest the will in surrogate’s court.

Mandelbaum has filed a petition on behalf of his now 2-year-old son, Cooper, that argues that a condition that might “induce the beneficiary to enter into a sham marriage of convenience” should be invalid.

The petition makes two further arguments: that Mandelbaum’s partner could be considered the boy’s “mother,” and that excluding the boy from sharing in the family fortune would run counter to public policies protecting same-sex marriages and their offspring.

Joshua S. Rubenstein, a Manhattan lawyer specializing in estate planning, said decedents have a right to shun possible beneficiaries — whether it’s because they have two fathers or because they married someone of a different race or any other reason that might sound unreasonable or even cruel.

“We might all find that repugnant, but it’s your property and you can do whatever you want with it,” Rubenstein said.

Mandelbaum may have “a very strong public policy argument, but the (father’s) wishes may be controlling in this case,” said Laura E. Stegossi, a Philadelphia estates lawyer.

The 47-year-old Mandelbaum is the son of Frank Mandelbaum, a successful Long Island businessman who died in 2007. The father was chairman and chief executive of Itelli-Check, a Woodbury, N.Y.-based maker of software that verifies the authenticity of driver’s licenses and other forms of identification.

The elder Mandelbaum’s will set up a trust worth hundreds of thousands for his grandchildren and their decedents. However, the will excluded any “adopted child of Robert, if adopted while Robert is a single person, or a biological child of Robert … if Robert shall not be married to the child’s mother within six months of the child’s birth.”

According to court documents, Mandelbaum is the biological father of Cooper, who was born in Pomona, Calif., on April, 5, 2010. The boy was conceived by using his sperm to fertilize an egg from an anonymous donor that was then implanted in the uterus of a second woman.

Mandelbaum’s petition notes that a California birth certificate lists him as the “Father/Parent” and his partner, a tax lawyer, as the “Mother/Parent.” The pair married in Connecticut on July 2, 2010 — within six months of Cooper’s birth.

The petition argues that the disputed provision in the will was intended only to “ensure that any children born to Robert were raised in the context of a legally recognized and committed marital relationship.”

Mandelbaum’s father knew his son was in a committed relationship with another man, and frequently socialized and traveled with them, the papers add.

“Thus if it was the intent of the will were to require that Robert marry a woman, the will would thereby reflect an attempt to induce the breakup of an existing family,” they say. “Any will provision reflecting such an intent is likewise unenforceable as against public policy.”