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Newsweek Magazine Calls Obama 'The First Gay President'

Sunday, 13 May 2012 08:02 PM

President Barack Obama’s unplanned, sudden endorsement of gay marriage may pose potential political challenges for him in the upcoming months, but at least one news organization is proclaiming the married father of two the nation's "first gay president."

Newsweek on Sunday released the cover of their next issue, which features President Obama with a rainbow halo and the title of 'The First Gay President.' Not to be outdone, The New Yorker magazine's new cover shows the White House with a gay friendly rainbow column.

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Tina Brown, who heads Newsweek, and its sister website The Daily Beast, is known for her appreciation of controversial covers to help boost public interest and sales, the Daily Telegraph points out.

The article accompanying the cover was written by the news magazine's nominally conservative blogger, Andrew Sullivan, who is an openly gay.

'When you step back a little and assess the record of Obama on gay rights, you see, in fact, that this was not an aberration. It was an inevitable culmination of three years of work,' Sullivan said in a statement about the article.

'He had to discover his black identity and then reconcile it with his white family, just as gays discover their homosexual identity and then have to reconcile it with their heterosexual family,' he wrote, describing the similarities between Mr Obama and the gay community.

Obama only made his move after his hand was forced by Vice President Joe Biden, who last week said he was quite comfortable with gay marriage. The next day, Education Secretary Arne Duncan seconded Biden with his own support.

Obama, facing a major series of fundraisers dominated by Hollywood liberals and leading members of the gay community, came out later in the week during an interview with ABC News.

Nevertheless, while the mainstream media celebrates the move, there are serious potential political challenges for Obama in most of the states that may decide this year’s election.

But some conversatives have applauded the move. Several pundits last week pointed out that before Obama, the highest ranking government leader to endorse legalized gay unions was former Vice President Dick Cheney.

The move is “the right thing to do,” said strategist Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to President George W. Bush.

“I give the president great credit for voting his conscience, because when you net this all out, it’s not a political winner,” McKinnon said today on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

Offering an overview of some of the most competitive battlegrounds in Democrat Obama’s re-election bid, McKinnon said, “You net look at those states and think about where’s that going to help him, probably just one -- Colorado. And maybe New Hampshire.”

In other swing states — including Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, Arizona, Missouri and North Carolina — “arguably, it’s a net loser,” McKinnon said of Obama publicly expressing support for same-sex marriage in an interview May 9 with ABC News.

Obama’s statement set off speculation about its political effect and the contrast it creates with presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who opposes gay marriage. Romney reiterated his opposition in a commencement address yesterday at Lynchburg, Virginia-based Liberty University, an evangelical school.

McKinnon, who helped orchestrate Republican Bush’s successful White House campaign in 2000 and 2004, in expressing his own support for Obama’s decision said the president may gain some political benefit from it.

Leadership ‘Important’

“What’s important is we have a president who leads and stands for what he believes in,” McKinnon said. “President Bush won re-election in 2004 not because people liked him necessarily, or even agreed with his policies, they voted for him because they thought he had core principles and he’d fight for them.”

Former Solicitor General Ted Olson, who held that job under Bush and who McKinnon termed “a legend” among Republicans, also expressed support for Obama’s decision on “Face the Nation.”

“I don’t know about politics,” Olson said when asked about the move’s possible impact on the election. “I do know about human rights, and constitutional rights, and on that basis I think the president did the right thing and I’m very glad he did it.”

Olson, the lead counsel for Bush in the 2000 Supreme Court case that decided that year’s election, has joined with David Boies, the lead attorney for 2000 Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore in that year’s battle for the White House, to legally challenge California’s 2008 ballot measure known as Proposition 8 that banned gay marriage.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a group opposed to abortion rights and gay marriage, said on “Face the Nation” that Obama’s gay marriage position will bolster Romney’s standing with evangelical voters who are part of the Republican Party base.

“I think that Barack Obama has helped fit that missing piece of intensity that Mitt Romney’s going to need,” Perkins said.

In March, when the Republican race remained undecided Perkins said that many voters for whom opposition to gay marriage and abortion are paramount issues “have not been excited” by Romney.

“They just don’t think Romney’s conservative,” Perkins said at the time.

Some doubt Obama’s announcement will have much impact on the presidential race.

“I literally don’t think anybody’s vote was changed by this one way or the other,” said Representative Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat.

“I can’t think there are many people who said, OK, well, I’m going to vote for Obama even though he said that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and he said gay people can serve in the military, but if he says marriage, that goes too far,” Frank said on ABC’s “This Week” program.

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Frank, who is openly gay and isn’t seeking re-election this year after 16 terms in office, referred that Obama administration’s decision last year to no longer defend the law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex spouses and the president’s push for repeal of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy for gays in the military.

Polling shows the gay marriage issue deeply divides Americans. Fifty percent of respondents said in a May 3-6 Gallup poll that same-sex marriages should be recognized as legal, with 48 percent saying they shouldn’t.

Independents support same-sex marriage 57 percent to 40 percent, according to the Gallup Poll.

An April 2012 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press showed a 7-percentage-point drop in opposition among independents over the last four years, and a 15-point drop over the last eight years.

Romney, though, could benefit with older people, as opposition to gay marriage tends to increase by age, according to polls. Just 30 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds were opposed to gay marriage in the Pew survey, compared with 56 percent of those over the age of 65.

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Sunday, 13 May 2012 08:02 PM
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