Newsweek: Obama America’s “First Gay President”

Befitting the beatification the President has received since coming out in support of gay marriage, Newsweek put a rainbow-colored halo over Obama’s head on its new issue, hitting newsstands tomorrow. The cover line bills him as “The First Gay President.”

It’s an ironic nod to Toni Morrison calling Bill Clinton America’s first black president, because he was raised by a poor single mother and loved McDonald’s. (her sentiment, not ours.) In much the same way, though Obama is heterosexual, he is in synch with what it means to be an outsider, to be mistrusted—even hated—for somethinghe has no control over.

Earlier this week, Andrew Sullivan (who penned the yet-to-be-posted cover feature) discussed the President’s groundbreaking statement on the Daily Beast:

I do not know how orchestrated this was; and I do not know how calculated it is. What I know is that, absorbing the news, I was uncharacteristically at a loss for words for a while, didn’t know what to write, and,… there are tears in my eyes.

So let me simply say: I think of all the gay kids out there who now know they have their president on their side. I think of Maurice Sendak, who just died, whose decades-long relationship was never given the respect it deserved. I think of the centuries and decades in which gay people found it impossible to believe that marriage and inclusion in their own families was possible for them, so crushed were they by the weight of social and religious pressure. I think of all those in the plague years shut out of hospital rooms, thrown out of apartments, written out of wills, treated like human garbage because they loved another human being. I think of Frank Kameny. I think of the gay parents who now feel their president is behind their sacrifices and their love for their children.

The interview changes no laws; it has no tangible effect. But it reaffirms for me the integrity of this man we are immensely lucky to have in the White House. Obama’s journey on this has been like that of many other Americans, when faced with the actual reality of gay lives and gay relationships. Yes, there was politics in a lot of it. But not all of it. I was in the room long before the 2008 primaries when Obama spoke to the mother of a gay son about marriage equality. He said he was for equality, but not marriage. Five years later, he sees–as we all see–that you cannot have one without the other. But even then, you knew he saw that woman’s son as his equal as a citizen. It was a moment–way off the record at the time–that clinched my support for him.

Today Obama did more than make a logical step. He let go of fear. He is clearly prepared to let the political chips fall as they may. That’s why we elected him.

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  • David Ehrenstein

    Worst cover since “New York Magazine” with Neil Patrick Harris with lipstick painted on his mouth.

  • jason

    Er, there were gay or bisexual Presidents before Obama. Andrew Sullivan is either desperate or needs medication.

  • RayneVanDunem

    @jason: “Er, there were gay or bisexual Presidents before Obama.”

    But who came out?

    None of them, especially not on the issue of equality. As far as they’re concerned, their concealed sexual orientation doesn’t matter a hill of beans to anyone except for historians to look at how unlively, sour and putrid their lives were without that disclosure that we now can openly make since 1969. They’re textbook examples of how NOT to live.

    Obama came out for others’ rights. Belatedly and likely with political motivations, but he came out. That’s more than we can expect from anyone else who has ever sat in the seat which he occupies.

    Sullivan has a point.

  • BOB

    I’ve always said this but not as a compliment.

  • michael

    James Buchanan was gay. There are stories that Washington and Lincoln were bisexual. Those presidents didn’t have to come out for gay rights because if a gay man could be president while living in the White House.with his lover/vice pres then it obviously wasn’t a big issue back then.

  • Marie Cohn

    Unless he shacked up with a dude named Josh for four years before he married a woman, Obama was beaten to the punch by Abe L. So, Newsweek, geddit right.

  • RayneVanDunem

    @michael: While sodomy laws were in place, sentencing people to hard time in prison for consensual relations involving non-vaginal intercourse? Big issue my foot!

    Again, neither Buchanan nor Lincoln came out at any time in their lives. Good morsels for historians to chew and ruminate, near-useless anecdotes for those who want equality yesterday.

    Also, useless for the scores of people incarcerated and maltreated by the government for their orientation over the centuries.

    We’re not talking about who was gay/bi. We’re talking about who was Out, and who made it easier to come Out. In those regards, ALL other presidents are useless.

  • HM

    Untrue, hyperbole filled headline……When hipsters create……

  • w.e.

    As is typical, gay activists and the left have shot themselves in the foot, head, and torso. We can only imagine the reaction in the country, if the assinine comments here are any judge.

  • Michael Bedwell

    Christ of the Andes, Mr. Avery; you’re obviously smokin’ the same dope as Sullivan. First, contrary to those defending the absurd “Newsweek” cover as just a benign extrapolation of African-American author Toni Morrison metaphorically once calling Bill Clinton “the first black president,” she never added a halo to his head. As for Sullivan, in addition to regurgitating much of the disingenuousness, distortions, and outright nonsense of his January “Newsweek” Ode to Obama, now he’s pulled out of ass a fantasy of Obama having to fight to come out of the closet AS BLACK. Sorry, kids, there’s lots of racism still around, but Obama was a toddler when the 1964 and 65 Civil Rights Acts were passed, and grew up after Jim Crow laws were dead while gays have grown up with NO federal laws protecting them, not to mention the fact that his parents didn’t reject HIM because he was a child of color. Sullivan’s attempt at analogy is simultaneously idiotic and insulting.

    I have proven how appreciative I am, how huge I think Obama’s affirmation was, by praising it all over the Net and making a contribution to his reelection I can ill afford. But if, as Sullivan mews, “he intuitively understands gays and our predicament,” then the following can only be seen as conscious betrayals of his “brother people”:
    The some 800 gay troops he needlessly shitcanned; the tens of thousands of gay troops who can now serve openly but without the same protections against harassment and discrimination nongay blacks, women, et al., have because Obama caved to Pentagon bigots who didn’t want to give the fags TOO much; the gay military couples and their children who are banned from military family housing not because of DOMA but because of arbitrary Pentagon policy Obama refuses to order stopped; the hundreds of thousands of LGBTs working for federal contractors who COULD have employment protection had Obama not reversed himself on that, too; the binational gay couples who keep having to fight one partner’s deportation because Obama refuses to use the green card system to protect them. And, oh yes, the glaring caveat in Obama’s reborn support for marriage equality that Sullivan ignores. This morning on the Chris Matthews’ show, a misty-eyed Sullivan interpreted what “in some ways a father figure” Obama actually said into, “I’m with you. I get it. You’re like me. I am like you. There is nothing between us.” Well, in addition to those catalogued above, nothing but laws banning/not recognizing marriage equality in 44 states whose CONSTITUTIONALITY Obama effectively embraced Wednesday.
    Again, what he did this past week was GREAT! HISTORY-CHANGING! But it wasn’t Jesus rising from the dead, and at the same time we’re grateful we should be issuing our community Reality Checks not writing him a blank check. I don’t know if it’s limited to Catholics, but since Obama’s still breathing, Sullivan can’t nominate him for actual sainthood—yet. But what’s next—superimposing his face on the rainbow flag? Changing June to “Obama Pride Month”? Replacing the bust of Harvey Milk in San Francisco City Hall with one of Barack?

    Given this was his second “Newsweek” love letter to Obama in five months, what will be on his next on—standing on a chair sucking Obama’s nipple?

  • jeff4justice

    When debating online Democrats who refuse to vote for liberal alternative parties one excuse I hear is that it’s the obstructionist GOP’s fault why the Democrats did so poorly when Obama and the Democrats were in the majority. By this logic the Democrats are doomed to fail even when they have a majority win so if we should not vote for people who have no shot at winning then that means we should not vote for Democrats.

    Meanwhile I’ll be un-occupying the 2party system.
    To the gays who will complain about not giving Obama credit, let’s flip the table on you: since the alternative party candidates in the Green Party, Libertarian Party, Peace & Freedom Party, & Justice Party are 100% pro-equality will you give them your support?

    As a gay man, I wonder why do so many of my LGBT brothers and sisters demand that politicians and religious leaders be brave enough to take the risks of supporting us yet we aren’t wiling to do the same by being brave enough to support our alternative party options that are 100% pro-quality.

    It’s hypocritical.

    If you’re gay and don’t vote for an alternative party because you think they will not win does this mean heterosexual allies in red states should not vote for your equality because they think it won’t win?

  • jeff4justice

    The corporately controlled 2party system knows the anger of both the Tea Party & Occupy could be harnessed the topple the 2party system. The needed a wedge issue distraction while they sodomize the American people as debt balloons to 15 trillion and half of the country is in poverty and more and more social services are cut.

  • Me

    We’ll have LGBT equality as a 3rd world country because of our last 2 Presidents.

  • Openyoeyes

    @jeff4justice:Obama’s Marriage Equality Support Does Not OK His Evils

    Full story here:

    Here is what Obama has done for the LGBT community while in office:


    *Signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded existing United States federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — the first positive federal LGBT legislation in the nation’s history
    *Signed repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell
    *Signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act


    *Reversed an inexcusable US position by signing the UN Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
    *Extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees in 2009 and, further, in 2010
    *Lifted the HIV Entry Ban effective January 2010
    *Issued diplomatic passports, and provided other benefits, to the partners of same-sex foreign service employees
    *Committed to ensuring that federal housing programs are open to all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity
    *Conceived a National Resource Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Elders — the nation’s first ever — funded by a three-year HHS grant to SAG

    *Banned job discrimination based on gender identity throughout the Federal government (the nation’s largest employer)
    *Eliminated the discriminatory Census Bureau policy that kept our relationships from being counted, encouraging couples who consider themselves married to file that way, even if their state of residence does not yet permit legal marriage
    *Instructed HHS to require any hospital receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds (virtually all hospitals) to allow LGBT visitation rights
    *Required all grant applicants seeking HUD funding to comply with state and local anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBT individuals
    *Adopted transgender recommendations on the issuance of gender-appropriate passports that will ease barriers to safe travel and that will provide government-issued ID that avoids involuntary “outing” in situations requiring ID, like hiring, where a gender-appropriate driver’s license or birth certificate is not available
    *Extended domestic violence protections to LGBT victims
    *Extended the Family and Medical Leave Act to cover employees taking unpaid leave to care for the children of same-sex partners
    *Issued guidance specifically to assist LGBT tenants denied housing on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity
    *Issued a National HIV/AIDS Strategy praised as “long-overdue” by the Task Force, Lambda and others
    *Issued guidance to 15,000 local departments of education and 5,000 colleges to support educators in combating bullying
    *Cut back authority to discharge under Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell from hundreds of generals to just 6 civilian appointees, effectively ending discharges while working toward a permanent end to the policy.
    *Led the fight that reversed a 2010 UN vote removing sexual orientation from the list of things people should not be killed for
    *Launched the first-ever national study of discrimination against members of the LGBT community in the rental and sale of housing
    *Determined that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, that discrimination against LGBT citizens should be subject to “heightened scrutiny” and that it will no longer defend this portion of the law in court.
    *Vacated a court order that would have deported a gay American’s Venezuelan partner


    *Endorsed the Baldwin-Lieberman bill, The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009, to provide FULL partnership benefits to federal employees
    *Released the first Presidential PRIDE proclamations since 2000
    *Hosted the first LGBT Pride Month Celebration in White House history
    *Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Harvey Milk and Billie Jean King, joining past recipients such as Rosa Parks
    *Appointed the first ever transgender DNC member
    *Testified in favor of ENDA, the first time any official of any administration has testified in the Senate on ENDA
    *Hired more openly LGBT officials (like these) in its first two years — more than 150, including more than 20 “Senate-confirmables” — than any previous administration hired in four years or eight
    *Sworn in Ambassador David Huebner
    *Changed the culture of government everywhere from – among others – HUD and HHS to the Export-Import Bank, the State Department, and the Department of Education
    *Appointed Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, instead of conservatives who would have tilted the Court even further to the right and virtually doomed our rights for a generation. To wit (quoting McCain): “I’ve said a thousand times on this campaign trail, I’ve said as often as I can, that I want to find clones of Alito and Roberts. I worked as hard as anybody to get them confirmed. I look you in the eye and tell you I’ve said a thousand times that I wanted Alito and Roberts. I have told anybody who will listen. I flat-out tell you I will have people as close to Roberts and Alito .”

    *Named open transgender appointees (the first President ever to do so)
    *Emphasized LGBT inclusion in everything from the President’s historic NAACP address (“The pain of discrimination is still felt in America. By African American women paid less for doing the same work as colleagues of a different color and a different gender. By Latinos made to feel unwelcome in their own country. By Muslim Americans viewed with suspicion simply because they kneel down to pray to their God. By our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights.”) . . . to the first paragraph of his Family Day proclamation (“Whether children are raised by two parents, a single parent, grandparents, a same-sex couple, or a guardian, families encourage us to do our best and enable us to accomplish great things”) and his Mothers Day proclamation (“Nurturing families come in many forms, and children may be raised by two parents, a single mother, two mothers, a step-mom, a grandmother, or a guardian. Mother’s Day gives us an opportunity to celebrate these extraordinary caretakers”) . . . to creating the chance for an adorable 10-year-old at the White House Easter Egg roll to tell ABC World News how cool it is to have two mommies . . . to including the chair of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce along with the Secretary of the Treasury and the President of Goldman Sachs in the small audience for the President’s economic address at the New York Stock Exchange . . . to welcoming four gay couples to its first State Dinner
    *Recommitted, in a televised address, to passing ENDA . . . repealing Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell . . . repealing the so-called Defense of Marriage Act
    *Spoken out against discrimination at the National Prayer Breakfast (“We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are — whether it’s here in the United States or, as Hillary mentioned, more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda.”)
    *Dispatched the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to call on the Senate to repeal Don’t Ask / Don’t Tell
    *Launched a website to gather public comment on first-ever federal LGBT housing discrimination study
    *Appointed long-time equality champion Chai Feldblum one of the four Commissioners of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
    *Produced U.S. Census Bureau PSAs featuring gay, lesbian, and transgender spokespersons
    *Appointed Retired Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer, an early public champion of open service in the military, to the Defense Advisory

    Committee on Women in the Services
    *Publicly invited the shunned MIssissippi high school prom student to the White House
    *Successfully fought for UN accreditation of IGLHRC (the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission) — against Republican attempts to block it
    *Convened the first-ever anti-bullying summit to craft a national strategy to reduce bullying in schools
    *Awarded $13.3 million to the LA Gay & Lesbian Center to create a model program for LGBTQ youth in the foster care system
    *Tweeted to 5.7 million BarackObama followers and nearly 2 million WhiteHouse followers the President’s “It Gets Better” video
    *Embraced that campaign with heartfelt messages from, as well, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of *Agriculture (aimed particularly at rural youth), the Secretaries of Education and Health & Human Services, the Secretary of Labor (in English and Spanish), the Director of OPM and LGBT members of the White House staff
    *Issued a Department of Justice video urging kids to call a Justice Department toll-free number if their school is aware of bullying but taking no action
    *Held the first ever White House conference on bullying prevention, led by the President and First Lady
    *Hosted first-ever White House transgender policy meeting

  • iDavid


  • Oh, ok

    @Michael Bedwell: You would be better off dead.

    Where’s the gay lynch mob?

  • Michael Bedwell


    Once one scrubs all the accomplishments from your copy/pasted list of all the Lip Service Only items, there’s not much concrete left, and much of that is riddled with exaggeration and distortion. We’ll address just two:

    1. Obama NEEDLESSLY shitchanned some 800 gay service members just to appease Pentagon bigots a little longer.
    2. Obama betrayed his explicit promise to fight for DADT repeal that included a ban on discrimination against gays IN the military post repeal. So now we have “open service” with a BAN on equal protections against harassment and discrimination that blacks, women, et al., automatically get.
    3. Obama did NOT “lift the HIV travel ban” in the way that they want people to believe. The ban was repealed by the Congressional session BEFORE Mr. Obama took office as a provision of the PEPFAR reauthorization, and signed by his otherwise mostly despicable predecessor, George Bush fils July 30, 2008. Yet while that empowerment was one of the things WAITING ON HIS DESK, January 20, 2009, thus justifying his issuing an Executive Order/Memorandum of non-enforcement pending bureaucratic mop-up, he REFUSED despite a February 11, 2009, “as soon as possible” letter to him from some 100 AIDS/gay rights organizations, including Whitman-Walker Clinic, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Lambda Legal, NCLR, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and the ACLU. Obama, Inc., didn’t even BEGIN rewriting the regs until April, and it inexplicably took them until JANUARY 2010 to put them into effect, during which time HIV+ visitors were needlessly turned away at America’s borders. For instance, the Obama Administration could have granted a waiver for some 60 HIV+ Canadians wanting to attend the June 2009 North American Housing and HIV/AIDS Research Summit in Washington DC but refused. According to the HIV/AIDS advocacy group Housing Works, “Most members of the delegation chose to ignore the ban and came to the Summit anyway. Some did skip the conference over worries of getting detained at the border. [One] man, who works at a Vancouver AIDS group, said that he travels with 11 medications and could easily have been turned back at the border should a customs official have decided to open his bags.” The only alternative Obama’s Homeland Security [!] offered was “to disclose their HIV positive status on a form [at the border], and pay a fee of about $545. Individuals could also opt to visit the [nearest American] consulate and pay a $131 fee; sign an agreement not to extend the visit for any reason; complete an intrusive and humiliating health form, and pledge to possessing adequate health coverage.”

    Yes, he’s done some good, and must be reelected. But ENOUGH with the denial of the WHOLE story.

  • Mrs. Patrick Campbell

    Marie-Actually Lincoln was bisexual, not gay. There have been rumors that Obama is apparently bisexual or gay and on the DL and of our persuasion!

  • Me

    Uh, read between the lines. Did you all miss the part about how he believes it should be “up to the states to decide”? How does that make him any different than any other segregationist? If “the states” had their way, Obama’s mother and father would not have been legally recognized as married in many of them when Obama was a child. Also, separate lunch counters and public swimming pools would be the rule for blacks and whites. What was Obama thinking (as a constitutional legal scholar) when he stupidly said that?

    Now, the proponents of Prop 8, as well as other state anti-equality movements, have more fuel to fire up their justification for constitutional amendments to ban our marriages. Marriage is a federal right (not just a state right), as the US Supreme Court decided very clearly in Loving v. Virginia in 1967. What is wrong with Obama to have remarked so foolishly that “the states should decide” who is popular enough to have equal rights? What a fucking moron.

  • Troglodyte

    I’m quite sure the black community will enthusiastically rally ’round Obama now that he’s been declared a “gay president.” Granted, he gets more $$ from gays than he does from blacks, but there are more blacks who vote than gays. I suspect the Obama staff’s reaction to this cover was “Ooooooh shit.”

  • Tommy

    What I’ve found interesting about all this is some people claim that the black community is against gay marriage. Maybe that’s true if you look at the average black guy in the street or the preachers. But African American elected officials and the civil rights black leadership such as NAACP and Rev. Al Sharpton have long supported gay marriage and equal rights for gay people. Even in the Democratic party, most black elected officials came out in favor of gay marriage long before white elected Democratic officials did. And there weren’t voted out of office by their black supporters. Washington, DC passed gay marriage and its political leadership is primarily African American. So Obama is actually behind most other black elected officials and leaders.

  • Oh, ok

    @Troglodyte: Your hypocrisy is hilarious, keep showing your ass, moron.

    Especially considering there are many black people in favor of gay marriage just like there are many white people in favor of it.

    The fact that so many white gays keep attacking black people shows who really hates who.

  • Oh, ok

    @Troglodyte: Especially since you’ve decided black gays doesn’t even exist in your ra cist post.

  • Timmmeeeyyy

    I find the headline about Obama being the first “gay” president sensationalistic at best. Bill Clinton was not the first black president and Obama is not the first gay president. Just waiting to see which man will become the first female president.

  • michael

    Rayne, do you think ANY single gay man, closet or not, could get elected today and then move into the White House with his lover??? Buchanan did just that sans the closet I would assume since his gayness was no big secret. Abe? He shacked up with a man so the sodomy laws obviously weren’t stopping that one. How about Washington hiring the openly gay man to train our troops? Did they persecute him with sodomy too??? Don’t act as if your time machine clues you in to all the facts. Sure, I honestly don’t know them all myself but I do know there is no change in Hell a closeted gay single man could get electeded especially if his running mate was his lovered affectionately referred to as “his better half” by other politicians.

  • michael

    Btw, the headline doesn’t contain the word “out” so it is 100% false as it currently reads and its just surprising supposedly none of these presidents were “out” yet there are all these stories of them living with their lovers. So, let’s se, Buchanan was known to be gay by other politicians and lived with his lover in the White House but somehow he was in the closet. The White House is a weird living space to refer to it as a closet.

  • Hyhybt

    @jeff4justice: It’s not *just* that they have no chance of winning. At least, for me it isn’t: although good in theory, I believe much of their other positions would be disastrous in practice.

Comments are closed.