MSNBC host Thomas Roberts said Monday that “many people consider President Obama to be the first gay president.”
Roberts was speaking to Shawn Gaylord of Human Rights First, a group fighting discrimination against homosexuals and other sexual minorities. The organization is pushing the White House to defy Russia’s harsh anti-gay laws by sending openly gay delegates to next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
“It’s not about asking for special protection,” Roberts claimed. “It’s about asking and seeking equal respect. We do know as we look at the larger picture here, Shawn, that LGBT rights is just one of the points of friction between our country and Russia right now.”
“How do you think that the president can balance all the delicate foreign policy issues but take a decisive stand on human rights,” Roberts asked earnestly, “because so many people consider President Obama to be the first gay president?”
Gaylord smirked but did not take the bait, instead noting the situation for homosexuals in Russia was becoming “very frightening.”
Roberts, who is himself openly gay, joins a growing media chorus singing the president’s LGBT praises. Perhaps the most high-profile example is Newsweek’s (remember Newsweek?) 2012 cover declaring Obama “The First Gay President,” complete with rainbow halo. Some seem to have taken the title more literally than others.
Obama opposed same-sex marriage during his 2008 presidential run, citing his religious faith rather than the strong opposition to gay marriage from minority voters. He famously declared that his position was “evolving” in 2010, before finally embracing gay marriage in 2012 after polls showed that opposition to such a stand was softening.
And anyway, Obama may be about 150 years too late. According to some scholars, Democrat James Buchanan, elected in 1856, was a deeply closeted gay man in a long-term committed relationship with a senator from Alabama.