Newsweek's May 21 issue has declared President Barack Obama "The First Gay President" of the United States of America. The cover depicts Obama "beatified" with a rainbow halo over his head.
ABC News reports that the cover story was written by the openly gay political blogger Andrew Sullivan. Sullivan, in an emotion-laden blog post published earlier in the week in The Daily Beast, wrote:
"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, like many Dish readers, there are tears in my eyes... I think of all the gay kids out there who now know they have their president on their side...I think of all those (gays) 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."
According to the Daily Mail, Tina Brown, editor of Newsweek and the website The Daily Beast, is known for her love of controversial covers to boost public interest and sales. Newsweek's latest cover is seen as a response to Time magazine's recent cover shot of a blonde mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old, as reported by Digital Journal.
Daily Mail reports that in a statement about his article, Sulllivan said: "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. 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."
Queerty similarly comments: "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. 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 something he has no control over."
Republicans, who are generally against gay marriage, said Obama only made the announcement to energize liberal voters ahead of the general election. Jezebel reports that the Republican national Committee Chairman Reince Priebu, said in a statement: "While President Obama has played politics on this issue, the Republican Party and our presumptive nominee Mitt Romney have been clear. We support maintaining marriage between one man and one woman and would oppose any attempts to change that."
Barack Obama official photo
Barack Obama supports same-sex couples' right to marry
Many analysts argue that the claim that Obama's announcement is a "political ploy" is not credible given the fact of the considerable political risk for him in the announcement. Digital Journal reports analysts say that it is still uncertain how the announcement will affect Obama in the November presidential elections. According to Digtial Journal, White House aides say predicting the impact of Obama's endorsement is almost impossible, but many believe it will energize pro-gay voters while turning off white Protestants in the Rust Belt and Catholic Latinos.
Newsweek also denied the accusation that Obama's announcement was a "political ploy," saying: "It’s easy to write off President Obama’s announcement of his support for gay marriage as a political ploy during an election year. But don’t believe the cynics."
Romney repeated his opposition to gay marriage in a speech to graduates of evangelical Liberty University in Virginia last week. According to Romney, marriage is an institution that should be a "relationship between one man and one woman." Digital Journal reports he told CNN: "I do not favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name. My view is the domestic partnership benefits, hospital visitation rights, and the like are appropriate, but that the others are not."
According to Digital Journal, Obama's announcement came after Vice President Joe Biden said he was "absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and men and women marrying are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties."
Many in the Obama administration criticized Biden for making his opinion known before the president had the chance to. According to Daily Mail, Obama said in the ABC interview: "Would I have preferred to have done this in my own way, in my own terms, without I think, there being a lot of notice to everybody? Sure." But he added: "But all's well that ends well."
Daily Mail reports that Biden had a private meeting in the Oval Office in which he apologized for speaking before the President