As recently as a few weeks ago, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) reminded the political world of his aggressive culture-warrior side, speaking to a far-right group and urging his party to never stray from its opposition to reproductive rights. "Our critics say we should abandon our pro-life beliefs. But that would only demoralize our voters," the congressman said, adding, "We don't want a country where abortion is simply outlawed. We want a country where it isn't even considered."
But while Ryan is unyielding when it comes to reproductive rights, he's starting to budge a little when it comes to LGBT rights.
Asked about his 1999 vote against adoption rights for same-sex couples in the District of Columbia, Ryan admitted that he's changed his mind.
"Adoption, I'd vote differently these days," he said. "That was I think a vote I took in my first term, 1999 or 2000. I do believe that if there are children who are orphans who do not have a loving person or couple, I think if a person wants to love and raise a child they ought to be able to do that. Period."
I don't want to overstate matters, and it's worth emphasizing that Ryan has not yet changed any of his other views when it comes to gay civil rights -- indeed, he reiterated his opposition to marriage equality at the same town-hall meeting -- but incremental progress is still progress.
Ryan has spent his career as a fierce opponent of the LGBT community, even endorsing an anti-gay constitutional amendment and the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, so his reversal on adoption rights is a welcome change.
Sure, if we were to dig down a little, we could note how little sense it makes for him to support the ability of gay people to adopt children but not the ability to get married, but for now, I'll put that aside and welcome progress where I can find it.