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This week’s cover story looks at the surprisingly challenging environment gay figure skaters face as competitors in what many consider to be the Olympics’ ‘gayest’ sport. Abigail Jones has the story.
Related: Many of the athletes selected for the 2014 Sochi Olympic delegation by President Obama are openly members of the LGBT community.
This week’s cover: #WhatsNext?
This year, the cake mix company Betty Crocker donated custom cakes for the first same-sex marriages in Minnesota. At DC Comics, Batwoman is engaged to marry her longtime girlfriend. Ellen DeGeneres—only 15 years ago jeered as “Ellen Degenerate” for coming out—is the queen of daytime television, where she regularly mentions her wife, Portia de Rossi. She’s also a Cover Girl model—the official public face of the Girl Next Door.
You know you’ve won when the companies that sell to the mass market of middle America are hurrying to show that they’re friendly to your cause. But there are many other signs of victory for lesbians and gay men. Only 17 years ago, in 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act was passed to protect the country against “promiscuity, perversion, hedonism, narcissism, depravity, and sin,” as then-congressman Gerry Studds summarized what he’d heard during the hearings. Today, any such language would sink the career of a national politician.
Meanwhile, we are speeding toward full marriage rights for same-sex couples throughout the country. This past June, the Supreme Court declared that the federal government must recognize all state-sanctioned marriages, including same-sex marriages, and in a procedural move, flung open marriage’s doors to California’s same-sex couples as well. Last fall, the citizens of three states passed laws making it possible for same-sex couples to marry, while another two rejected attempts to ban or undo marriage equality. The total number of marriage-equality states is now 13—or 14 if you include New Mexico, where the most populous counties are currently performing such marriages. Realistically, advocates believe they can win another 10 states by 2016.
Increasingly, people will get a chance to see how ordinarily boring we are, reducing the stigma attached to coming out as gay.
The marriage equality fight isn’t over, by any means. The rest of the states, including those most hostile to gay rights, have constitutional or statutory bans on recognizing same-sex pairs. But the momentum is clear to all. Roughly 55 percent of Americans now say they favor legal marriage rights for same-sex couples. Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry—the national group most involved in winning hearts, minds, legislation, and ballot measures (as opposed to court victories) on marriage equality—recently told me that he believes we will see full national marriage rights within a few years, “if we do the work,” as he always adds.
To understate the case, when we win full marriage rights nationwide, it will be a transformative moment, both practically and symbolically. Once our marriages are legally recognized everywhere in the country, lesbians, bisexuals, and gay men—and children just beginning to realize that they might be heading in our direction—will be socially legible as ordinary human beings with the same hopes and dreams as our neighbors. Increasingly, people will get a chance to see how ordinarily boring we are, reducing the stigma attached to coming out as gay. In short, winning marriage means that, more and more, we will have formal equality.
So then what? Should the coalition of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender people—the LGBT movement, for short—declare victory and disband? Once we can marry the person whom we love, are we done agitating for political change under the rainbow flag?
In a word, no. For starters, there are still policy areas beyond marriage to take care of. Among the more urgent: passing ENDA—the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, currently being marked up in the Senate—which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of federally forbidden reasons for firing or refusing to hire or promote, a move supported by 80 percent of the nation; battling back against the problematic idea, promoted under the phrase “religious liberty,” that anyone with a religious reason for not wanting to treat LGBT folks as fully human should be excused from following anti-discrimination laws; warming up the cultural climate in American regions where attitudes toward us lag; and reaching out internationally to ask those still being disenfranchised and brutalized in other countries and cultures how we can best help.
But beyond these projects, there’s a much larger cultural question that deeply deserves our country’s attention. It has to do with gender: the way our culture, our politics, and our legal system treats femininity, masculinity, and everything in between.
FRANCE IS THE 14Th COUNTRY TO ALLOW GAY MARRIAGE!
Liberté! Egalité! Fraternité!
"Treating same-sex partnerships differently from husband-wife marriages only serves to divide and antagonize those who ought to be working together." - David Frum, explaining why he signed the Republican brief supporting gay marriage.
[Photo: Ben Margot/AP]
Dee Coram, 44-year-old owner of the Coffee Trader in Montrose, Colorado, whose father cast the deciding vote in a bill that would allow civil unions. The 5-4 vote, the younger Coram added, has taken “more of an emotional toll on him than myself.”
Ah, our favorite nwktumblr feature is back: the also-rans! These are the alternate versions of our ’First Gay President' Newsweek cover that were left on the cutting room floor.
Which one’s your favorite? Your tumblrs are really digging Oliver Munday’s #2, but also like the simplicity #6 (the quote over white) brings to the table.
If you haven’t read Andrew Sullivan’s amazing cover story, now’s the time!
[New to nwktumblr? Follow us.]
It was the spring of 2007, back when Barack Obama’s bid for the presidency seemed quixotic at best. I’d seen Obama speak to a crowd and was impressed but wanted to see if what I’d seen from afar held up under closer scrutiny. So I asked to attend a private fundraiser in a tony apartment in Georgetown. I promised not to write anything. I just wanted to see the man up close and get a better sense of him and his character. At one point in the question-and-answer session, a woman looked him square in the eyes with what can only be called maternal grit. “My son is gay,” she said, and the room went suddenly quiet. “I don’t understand why you don’t support his right to marry the person he loves. It’s so disappointing to me.” Obama, without losing eye contact for a second, told her: “I want full equality for your son—all the rights and benefits that marriage brings. I really do. But the word ‘marriage’ stirs up so much religious feeling. I think civil unions are the way to go. As long as they are equal.”
My heart sank. Was this obviously humane African-American actually advocating a “separate but equal” solution—a form of marital segregation like the one that made his own parents’ marriage a felony in many states when he was born? Hadn’t he already declared he supported marriage equality when he was running for the Illinois Senate in 1996? (The administration now claims that the questionnaire from the gay Chicago paper Outlines had been answered in type—not Obama’s writing—by somebody else.) Hadn’t Jeremiah Wright’s church actually been a rare supporter of marriage equality among black churches? The sudden equivocation made no sense—except as pure political calculation. And yet it also felt strained, as if he knew it didn’t quite fit. He wanted equality but not marriage—but you cannot have one without the other. On this issue, Obama’s excruciating nonposition was essentially “Yes we can’t.” And yet somehow, simply by the way he answered that mother’s question, I didn’t believe it. I thought he was struggling between political calculation and his core belief in civil rights. And it was then that I realized he was both: a cold, steely, ruthless, calculating politician who nonetheless wanted to do the right thing in the end.
Last week he did it—in a move whose consequences are simply impossible to judge. White House sources told me that after the interview with ABC News, the president felt as if a weight had been lifted off him. Yes, he was bounced into it by Joe Biden, the lovable Irish-Catholic rogue who couldn’t help but tell the truth about his own views on TV (only to be immediately knocked down by David Axelrod on Twitter). But Obama had been planning to endorse gay marriage before his reelection for a while. White House sources say that if Obama had been a state senator in New York last year when the Albany legislature legalized gay marriage, he’d have voted in favor. But no one asked. The “make news” reveal was scheduled for The View. In the end, scrambling to catch up with his veep, he turned to his fellow ESPN fan, Robin Roberts, a Christian African-American from Mississippi, to quell the sudden kerfuffle. Even this was calculated: to have this moment occur between two African-Americans would help Obama calm opposition within parts of the black community.
The interview, by coincidence, came the day after North Carolina voted emphatically to ban all rights for gay couples in the state constitution. For gay Americans and their families, the emotional darkness of Tuesday night became a canvas on which Obama could paint a widening dawn. But I didn’t expect it. Like many others, I braced myself for disappointment. And yet when I watched the interview, the tears came flooding down. The moment reminded me of my own wedding day. I had figured it out in my head, but not my heart. 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.
Keep reading! Andrew Sullivan on Barack Obama: The First Gay President, Newsweek
Here’s our cover this week, featuring a rainbow-haloed Barack Obama—America’s first gay president!
Obama came out for gay marriage, so Jon Stewart had a little party on last night’s Daily Show.