During the long and ugly US election campaign hysterical rightwingers insisted variously that Barack Obama was secretly a Marxist, a Muslim terrorist and even the anti-Christ. Conservative US lobbyist Matt Barber has his own off-the-wall prediction: “Barack Obama,” he says, “will be the first gay president… the most radically pro-homosexual, antifamily president in history.”
Barber and his ilk picture a giant disco ball dropping from the ceiling on inauguration day as Obama-elect strips down to a tank top and hot pants to paint the White House pink.
In their dreams, says John Aravosis, a former US senate political consultant and founder of Americablog.com. “It is a bit queer how much Matt Barber seems to know about unearthing gay men.”
Democratic presidential candidates are routinely labelled as gay, says Aravosis, “It’s a common slur far-right extremists use.”
Queer blogger, radio host and author Michaelangelo Signorile told Xtra that Obama is, “gayer than George W Bush, but not as gay as Bill Clinton, therefore in more of an uncommitted-sort-of-bi category and needing a push.”
Obama’s pro-gay rhetoric reminds activists like Signorile of the heady days of Clinton’s 1992 victory but also of the devastating letdown mere months later when Clinton caved on his promise to let gays in the US military live openly. He later signed the Defense of Marriage Act, defining marriage in federal law as a “union between one man and one woman,” passing a prickly, family-values issue to individual states to solve. The move turned gay marriage in the US from a one shot deal into a 50-state fight.
Yes, Clinton screwed more than just an intern in the Oval Office.
To his credit Obama voted against that act but still hedged his position on the campaign trail. “I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman but I detest the bashing and vilifying of gays and lesbians,” he said.
It’s the fence he has straddled ever since, even though the pickets are pointy.
Last October, Obama came under fire when his campaign hired Donnie McClurkin, an ex-gay minister/singer, to appear at a series of campaign events. “God delivered me from homosexuality!” McClurkin shouted from the stage.
Horrified supporters urged Obama to drop him from the tour but he refused, explaining, “If we are to confront our shared challenges we have to join together.”
Such attempts at compromise with uncompromising fundamentalists make gay people nervous but Aravosis says the real nervous nellies are Obama’s opponents.
“People like Matt Barber are scared to death that someone who doesn’t hate half the country and most of the world is finally on the verge of being elected president.”