Somewhere in the middle of Bill Clinton’s second term, a sage political commentator branded him the “first black president.” With all deference to Barack Obama’s later claim to the title, the reference stuck. It was not about the color of his skin, but rather Clinton’s ability to communicate passionately with the black community in America. I think it is time we ask a similar question about Barack Obama: Is Obama our first gay president?
The question is not so much about Obama’s remarkable “transformation” on gay marriage as he made no genuine news this week. In fact, everyone thought he was for gay marriage already even though he denied in vehemently on the campaign trial in 2008. That was an understandable denial of political convenience like all politicians do. Everyone recognized that today he was boxed into a corner by his own vice president on the subject, and had to admit finally to his true feelings on gay marriage.
And in doing so he still only took a half-step. Obama said he was for personally for gay marriage, but at the same time he is perfectly willing to leave marriage law up to the states rather than endorse a federal approach to the issue. That puts him on par with Richard Nixon’s views about interracial marriage in the 1960s, something that was left up to the states until the Supreme Court intervened declaring such state bans unconstitutional.
Obama will not go so far on gay unions, presenting a sort of vacuous approach meant to appease his gay backers but not alienate swing voters in socially conservative states. Politically, it is doubtful the presidential doublespeak will be successful. Even his half approach may cost him states like Ohio and Virginia in what is expected to be a close election. And liberals are already crying foul, such as this article on the socially liberal Gawker Media site.
Nor is the question about Obama’s own experiences as a young man. We all know the rumors that Obama experimented with gay sex when he was younger and less politically ambitious. A man named Larry Sinclair claimed a gay relationship with the president, with uncomfortable details, and rumors have circulate for years about the president’s relationship with Reggie Love, a man who lived in the White House until recently. We can dismiss these stories as political election year noise.
But Obama has been labeled already the first metro-sexual president by a respected non-partisan pundit because of his uniquely effeminate characteristics for an American president. Read that conclusion here. Charlie Cook’s conclusion that he is a modern city man with city values rings true to gay individuals in San Francisco’s Castro district and New York’s Greenwich Village.
So I pose the question because of Obama’s ability to connect with the gay community. Will Obama’s legacy be that of America’s first gay president?
Video: Obama Gay Marriage Remarks