May 18, 2012

IconPresident Obama, the first gay angel

Ok, US President Barack Obama is neither gay nor a heavenly being with white wings, but if you caught the cover of Newsweek magazine, it appears that some people may disagree with me. Last week’s touching and monumental interview where President Obama affirmed that he believed same sex couples should be able to get married spurred a plethora of responses, many supportive, many insulting, some humorous, and others tearful. Apparently, Andrew Sullivan of Newsweek was so moved by the President’s bold statement that he opted to honor Obama with a rainbow halo (a “gaylo”) and dub him the “first gay president” on the cover of the magazine. The article itself is thoughtful, informative, and even endearing as the author relates his own personal experiences as a gay male and what this endorsement means to him and the rest of the LGBT community. Unfortunately, some of that integrity is lost when read alongside the awkward cover of the President beneath the “gaylo”.

Check out that "gaylo"!

And so it goes, for every positive move made, there is a negative waiting in line, whether it’s intentionally detrimental or not. After the US President’s announcement, Twitter was inundated with posts praising his move. Or was it flooded with posts criticizing his politically motivated calculations? Fox Nation immediately posted the heading, “President flip-flops, declares war on marriage”. After much deserved backlash over such a ridiculous headline, the site edited it to simply say “President flip-flops”, though of course the original title made its electronic rounds. And does this endorsement count as flip-flopping? It is not like there has been a complete reversal of opinion here, as insinuated, but rather an evolution, as stated by Obama himself.

Members of the American LGBT community have traditionally supported Obama, though of course many wish this declaration would have come sooner. This administration’s work on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was critical and obviously very affirming to all members of the LGBT community, not just the ones in the military, but some felt like it was not enough. Obama has always stated he believes that every American deserves equal rights, but initially his stance was in support of civil unions, while not committing to the institute of marriage. Many gay Americans, such as the Newsweek author mentioned above, believed that Obama refrained from a full commitment to marriage rights for fear of losing his religious supporters. The fact that he is risking voter support to take a stand that affirms our rights is powerful. But is it too risky? Many gay Americans are criticizing the President for his actions, wishing he would have waited until after the next election for making such a concrete statement that could potentially prevent him from obtaining the next presidency.

When you put the toiling juxtapositions aside and look at the bottom line, it was a good day for gay. When you take into consideration that North Carolina had just passed Amendment One, which pushed the state from simply banning gay marriage into a state that banned any and all rights for gay couples, the President’s announcement was a redeeming and much needed boost for all gay Americans. Put aside the hypothetical assessments of why he did what he did, and whether or not it will be detrimental to the next election, and what kind of politics are involved, and simply revel in the fact that it was and is the right thing. It feels good.

2 Responses to President Obama, the first gay angel

  1. This is a monumental step, regardless of the political fallout. Sometimes we have to take the long-ball vision of the future and raise our gaze to a distant horizon of greater equality and harmony for our diversified humanity. That makes it easier to endure the political and cultural shit-storm that is no doubt headed in our general direction. But in the aftermath of said storm, there will be new growth, new opportunities, new ground taken in pursuit of more balanced civil liberties and personal freedom…not only in the US but across the globe. I applaud Obama for having the balls to stand on the divide of human rights, knowing full well that he could be eviscerated by his opponents. He may or may not be re-elected, but he owned his beliefs and values publicly, setting a powerful example for American citizens. I’m proud of the guy.

  2. Ned says:

    Yes. A “good day for gay” indeed. In the future, when we can peel off the politics from the history, I know Obama will be acknowledged for taking a finally firm stance in a world of muddied opinions & clouded issues…

Maria Burnham

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