May 142012

President Barack Obama is being heralded as the “first gay president” in a Newsweek cover out today.

The magazine’s headline for the May 21 issue and its cover photo, which features a rainbow-colored halo over Obama’s head, comes after Obama last week said for the first time that he believes same-sex marriages should be legal.

The accompanying story is by Andrew Sullivan, a conservative writer who is gay. He recounts how he was moved to tears when Obama endorsed gay marriage in an interview last week with ABC News.

While Obama and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney are focusing today on the economy and jobs, the gay marriage debate has become a part of the presidential campaign. A new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows 51% of Americans approve of Obama’s stance, yet 6 in 10 say the president’s support for same-sex marriage will have no bearing on their vote in November.

Sullivan argues that Obama’s life, as the son of a black father and white mother, helps him understand the plight of gay men and lesbians. He writes:

“I have always sensed that he intuitively understands gays and our predicament—because it so mirrors his own. And he knows how the love and sacrifice of marriage can heal, integrate, and rebuild a soul. The point of the gay-rights movement, after all, is not about helping people be gay. It is about creating the space for people to be themselves. This has been Obama’s life’s work. And he just enlarged the space in this world for so many others, trapped in different cages of identity, yearning to be released and returned to the families they love and the dignity they deserve.”

Catalina Camia