What does Oprah‘s political love for Obama mean for the gays?
Oprah Winfrey recently stepped into the political arena to support Barack Obama. While Obama may be loving the boost, one Washington Blade reader sees Winfrey’s endorsement as a move against the gays:
[Winfrey’s] her “chosen one” is a candidate who would unquestionably deny gay Americans their full and equal civil rights, especially when it comes to same-sex marriage.
“I am somebody who has not embraced gay marriage. I’ve said that it’s not something that I think the society is necessarily ready for. And it strikes me that in a lot of ways for a lot of people, it may intrude in how they understand marriage,” Obama stated on CNN’s “Larry King Live” in late 2006.
And as she tries to take America down an enlightened path in this presidential campaign, is Oprah’s endorsement of Obama more about being an instrument of racial equality in this country, by finally getting a black man elected to the highest office in this nation, than it is about the annoying and politically divisive issue of marriage equality? Is Oprah choosing, like many African-Americans ministers have done, which issue is more important for our black communities?
It seems to us that Oprah’s move isn’t anti-gay. Of all the Democratic front-runners, none support gay marriage. Face it, folks, the Democrats aren’t going to make America magically equal. It’s simply not going to happen. If it works, Oprah’s Obama-endorsement could help move a black man into the White House. That would be a pretty monumental feat – and perhaps even more historically astounding than gay marriage.
Note we said “If” Oprah’s endorsement works. Check out these numbers from a recent Pew poll on celebrity political endorsements:
Respondents said Oprah’s endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) — she has stumped and raised funds for him — will have essentially no effect on getting their vote, but they still think it could help his run for the White House.
According to the survey, 15% said Oprah’s endorsement would make them more likely to vote for Obama, while the same 15% said it would make them less likely and 69% said it would make no difference. That is down from a 2000 poll that found that 14% said her endorsement would make them more likely to vote for a candidate and 11% less likely.
But 60% still said they thought Oprah’s support would help his overall candidacy, while only 3% said it would hurt, although how that squares with the vote results is not clear.
Even this Big O may not be able to sway this election.