Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio) and Rand Paul (Ky.) did the Republican Party a lot of good in the past week. Both men helped the party shift to the right side of common sense and political progress, illuminating the big tent that is the GOP.

Democrats could not criticize Portman’s new position supporting gay marriage, and they also could not just welcome a Republican, so the left zeroed in on his motives. I heard from many readers who criticized Portman after his announcement because his motivation for change was his gay son — as if learning from personal experience somehow diminishes the legitimacy of someone’s belief or commitment. Of course, President Obama was coddled by the media as they gave him credit for gracefully evolving on the issue, while Portman was slammed for being prompted to change by the love he feels for his son.

And as I wrote on Tuesday, Paul did our party a lot of good by acknowledging the obvious when he declared it is not realistic to maintain the position that we will deport the 12 million illegal immigrants already here. Paul is hot right now, and few in the party want to appear at odds with him. But rather than demagogue and stoke his fundraising, he stuck his neck out. He proved to be an adult when we needed him to be one.

The actions of these two senators are helping us avoid a descent into the “Stupid Party” status warned of by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. The party will continue to drift for a while and we have a lot of challenges ahead, but these two GOP leaders made life easier for Republicans this week.