Newsweek Declares Obama First ‘Gay’ President


Following President Obama’s comments last week that he personally favors marriage equality, Newsweek writer Andrew Sullivan has written an article declaring Obama to be the first ‘gay’ president.

The working toward this non-literal butinterestingidea is a bit long but certainly gives something to chew on.

Sullivan, a self-identifying conservative, had been unimpressed with Obama’s perceived lack of action on key LGBT rights issues and his continual claim to be “evolving” on the issue of marriage equality. However, even Sullivan says he couldn’t fail to be moved by Obama’s ABC news interview last week where he, as a sitting president, declared his support for marriage equality:

And I was utterly unprepared for how psychologically transformative the moment would be. To have the president of the United States affirm my humanity–and the humanity of all gay Americans–was, unexpectedly, a watershed. He shifted the mainstream in one interview. And last week, a range of Democratic leaders–from Harry Reid to Steny Hoyer–backed the president, who moved an entire party behind a position that only a few years ago was regarded as simply preposterous. And in response, Mitt Romney could only stutter.

Sullivan goes on to admit he was wrong regarding Obama’s perceived slow pace on the DADT repeal, writing:

He made the brilliant calculation that he would not push it right away, as Clinton did, and he would not be the front person to advocate the change. Adm. Michael Mullen would do it, backed by Republican Defense Secretary Bob Gates. By bringing the military top brass and Gates slowly on board, he outmaneuvered the Republicans.

Sullivan also points out that Obama’s affirmation of marriage equality is actually only the icing on the cake of a substantial erosion of the Defense of Marriage Act that the Obama administration has been carrying out through the courts in the past year:

In other words, by February 2011, Obama and Holder put the significant weight of the Justice Department behind the constitutional logic of marriage equality. Immediately, the lawyers in the Proposition 8 case in California claimed this as a “material” or legally significant development. It was. And, of course, if discriminating against gays in marriage violates the equal-protection clause, as the Justice Department claims, then DOMA is doomed. And in making that decision, Obama did far more to advance marriage equality substantively than he did in his recent interview.

But it is perhaps Sullivan’s last point that is the most interesting. Sullivan argues that President Barack Obama and the gay community share a very specific trait:

Gays are born mostly into heterosexual families and discover as they grow up that, for some reason, they will never be able to have a marriage like their parents’ or their siblings’.


Barack Obama had to come out of a different closet. 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.

As such, Sullivan argues Obama is in many ways the fierce advocate he always claimed to be because he implicitly understands the gay rights struggle due to the fact that his own identity struggle, while not the same, gave him an empathy past President’s have lacked.

You can read the full Newsweek piece, which delves into Obama’s gay rights work since becoming POTUS, here.


Related Reading:

The New Yorker Celebrates Obama’s Gay Marriage Evolution

Argentina Makes Gender Change Surgery a Legal Right

House GOP Advances Religious Right to Condemn Gay Soldiers

Image taken from Newsweek cover under fair use terms, no infringement intended.


Rin S.
Rin S.4 years ago

God, I love Obama. He is just amazing.

Bryon S.
Bryon S.4 years ago

@ Steve R. and Robbie C. ...Obama already had the gay vote you morons. Do you really think any gay person with an ounce of self respect would vote republican't? Quit making stuff up or repeating what you hear on FOX "news". Also Steve, do you really believe that Biden wasn't staged? The whole thing was very well calculated since the beginning of Obama's presidency. Read the article before you make statements... I mean put your foot in your mouth.

Michelle Scott
Michelle Scott4 years ago

I am so proud of this president. This man is so cool.we need him another 4years. And fox news sucks.

Michelle Scott
Michelle Scott4 years ago

I am so proud of this president. This man is so cool.we need him another 4years. And fox news sucks.

Michelle Scott
Michelle Scott4 years ago

I am so proud of this president. This man is so cool.we need him another 4years. And fox news sucks.

Inaya K.
Inaya Kamal4 years ago

we haven't received confirmation from Obama out and out; this may be a tactical move on the part of Mr.Sullivan to draw outrage from the conservative community, and cloaked beneath his "moved" feelings he may just be hoping for a backlash this close to the elections.

Michelle Gershon
Michelle Gershon4 years ago

For some reason I found the title plus the graphic really amusing. But on a more serious note, it's about time that he stood up for gay marriage.

Juliet Defarge
judith sanders4 years ago

Nice idea, but really bad graphics. Looks like a Lisa Frank design. An important step forward like this deserves more gravitas.

Joan S.
Joan S.4 years ago

I have never been so proud of a President as I was on the day of this declaration.

Mariah Anderson
Mariah Anderson4 years ago