Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Obama talks with The Advocate
by Lisa Keen, Keen News Service

This article shared 4377 times since Thu May 1, 2008
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

emocratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama gave his first general interview to a gay publication this month, sitting down in person for a 25-minute interview at his Chicago campaign headquarters with The Advocate. In the interview, the senator rejects the notion that he has avoided talking with the gay press and says he would not make 'don't ask/don't tell' a litmus test for his Joint Chiefs of Staff, but says he thinks he could eliminate the policy and 'help usher through an Employment Non-Discrimination Act and sign it into law if elected president.'

The interview arrived on the crest of growing criticism that Obama has been snubbing the gay press, perhaps in an effort to appear less liberal as he squares off more and more with Republican nominee-apparent John McCain. Complaints that Obama had not granted one request for an interview by gay newspapers—while his chief Democratic rival Hillary Clinton had granted three—had chagrined many gay journalists and prompted a stinging rebuke in the Philadelphia Gay News.

Clinton, who gave her first interviews to the gay press starting in mid-February with the Washington Blade, followed a few weeks later with a joint interview with papers in Ohio and Texas, and, most recently, in the Philadelphia Gay News. All of Clinton's phone interviews took place just before the primaries in those states, were approximately 10 to 15 minutes long and were conducted by phone.

Philadelphia Gay News publisher Mark Segal said he held off publishing the Clinton interview for about two weeks, until just last Thursday, because he had hoped to run it simultaneously with an interview with Obama. The Obama campaign did not respond, however, and Segal made clear his disappointment by leaving a gaping hole on one side of his front page April 3 with an editorial questioning the motives of Obama's failure to speak with local gay newspapers.

Until the April 7 interview with The Advocate, Obama's only interviews with the gay press was one with Chicago's Windy City Times during his campaign for the U.S. Senate, and a 10-minute phone interview specifically about the Donnie McClurkin gospel tour controversy in The Advocate.

Asked why Obama has spoken only to The Advocate during his presidential nomination campaign, his deputy press secretary, Ben LaBolt, said 'it reaches a wide circulation.' The oldest gay publication in the country, The Advocate circulates through the mail nationally and, like other gay publications, has a Web site. According to Todd Evans, of the national gay advertising firm Rivendell Media, the Advocate's circulation is approximately 165,000.

LaBolt noted that the Advocate's request for an interview was 'long-standing' but he offered no explanation for why the campaign did not speak to the Philadelphia Gay News or to other gay newspapers even though they, too, had made requests for interviews—collectively and individually—and repeatedly since June 2007.

In an interview with this reporter, Segal said some people have suggested the campaign snubbed his paper because he had made a $1,000 contribution to the Clinton campaign. But he said the contribution was for the price of a ticket to a campaign event that he attended for information gathering purposes, and that he disclosed the fact in the newspaper. In an editorial accompanying the blank page and Clinton interview April 3, Segal said he believes Obama 'would rather talk at the LGBT community than with it' and suggested the move could be strategic.

'The local gay press is to our community what churches are to the black community,' wrote Segal, saying that, collectively, 'the local gay press now has a national weekly audience of some 2.2 million readers, not including our Web sites.' He also noted that Obama has granted interviews with a Philadelphia sports radio station, Christianity Today and the French magazine Paris Match. Segal suggested Obama's snubbing of the gay press could be an indication of his desire to 'move to the center' politically.

Campaign spokesman LaBolt said the Advocate interview was scheduled 'before that editorial ran' and that the senator is 'having an ongoing conversation with the LGBT press … through op-eds, events and interviews, and will continue to.' The Obama campaign has also, in recent weeks, purchased advertising in several gay newspapers in recent weeks, although not, as of this week, in Pennsylvania's largest gay newspaper, Philadelphia Gay News.

Advocate News Editor Kerry Eleveld, who conducted the interview for The Advocate, said the campaign made no restrictions on what she could ask and did not seek to determine what her questions would be ahead of time. She said had been in regular communication with various Obama campaign personnel for some time, seeking an interview and got the sense, in recent weeks, that it was seeking an outlet for an interview. She said the campaign called her last Thursday 'around noon' to arrange for the interview Monday.

The interview

The Advocate interview itself leads off with questions about the perceived snub, saying that Obama has been 'weathering a small storm lately in the LGBT community for being too tight-lipped with gay and lesbian news media.'

Referring to the April 7 interview with The Advocate, editor Eleveld says: 'Some may call the chat a shrewd political move made by the Obama camp ahead of the April 22nd Pennsylvania primary. We call it access.'

In that interview, Obama said 'I don't think it's fair' to say he has had a campaign of 'silence' with respect to the gay press and 'I haven't been silent on gay issues.'

'I actually have been much more vocal on gay issues to general audiences than any other presidential candidate probably in history,' noted Obama. He noted the campaign tends 'not to do a whole bunch of specialized press.'

'We try to do general press for a general readership,' said Obama.

Eleveld followed up, suggesting the gay community's concern is that 'if you get into office, will LGBT folks be last on the priority list?'

'I guess my point would be that the fact that I'm raising issues accordant to the LGBT community in a general audience rather than just treating you like a special interest—that is, sort of off in its own little box—that, I think, is more indicative of my commitment,' Eleveld added. 'Because ultimately what that shows is that I'm not afraid to advocate on your behalf outside of church, so to speak. It's easy to preach to the choir; what I think is harder is to speak to a broader audience about why these issues are important to all Americans.'

Eleveld then asked Obama what he 'reasonably' expects he could get done 'for the LGBT community,' if elected president.

'I reasonably can see 'don't ask, don't tell' eliminated. I think that I can help usher through an Employment Non-Discrimination Act and sign it into law,' said Obama.

Obama said he thinks it will be 'tough' to include transgender language in ENDA, characterizing it as a 'heavy lift through Congress.'

'And, obviously, my goal would be to get the strongest possible bill—that's what I'll be working for.'

Obama said he also believes he can make sure federal employees have equal benefits and that he is 'very interested in making sure federal benefits are available to same-sex couples who have a civil union' through repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Noting that Clinton has called for repealing only the federal recognition aspect of DOMA because she said the states' rights section is necessary to ward off a constitutional amendment, Eleveld asked whether he thinks its possible to get repeal of the full law.

'I don't know,' said Obama. 'But my commitment is to try to make sure that we are moving in the direction of full equality, and I think the federal government historically has led on civil rights—I'd like to see us lead here too.'

Eleveld noted that Obama and his wife, Michelle, have spoken about the racism in being told to 'wait your turn,' then asked 'isn't that what you're asking same-sex couples to do by favoring civil unions over marriage?'

Obama said he doesn't ask same-sex couples to wait and that he strongly respects the right of same-sex couples to insist on equality. But he said his 'perspective is also shaped by the broader political and historical context in which I'm operating.'

'I'm the product of a mixed marriage that would have been illegal in 12 states when I was born,' Obama said. 'That doesn't mean that, had I been an adviser to Dr. [ Martin Luther ] King back then, I would have told him to lead with repealing an anti-miscegenation law, because it just might not have been the best strategy in terms of moving broader equality forward. That's a decision that the LGBT community has to make. That's not a decision for me to make.'


This article shared 4377 times since Thu May 1, 2008
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Seth G.: Finding out what unites, divides while biking across America 2020-10-29
- Seth G. (actual name: Seth Gottesdiener) is on a journey—and a mission. The fitness professional/social-justice activist—seen as a leader in Los Angeles' LGBTQ community—is biking from L.A. to Washington, D.C. ...

Gay News

Pritzker administration grants $94M to Illinois businesses, communities 2020-10-29
--From a press release - CHICAGO—Governor JB Pritzker today joined the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to announce the release of $94 million in emergency relief funds for communities and small businesses ...

Gay News

Equality Illinois' virtual gala on Feb. 6 2020-10-29
- Equality Illinois will hold its 30th-anniversary gala virtually on Feb. 6, 2021. Things will kick off with a Champion Happy Hour at 6:30 p.m., followed by the program at 7 p.m. Honorees will include National Center ...

Gay News

Talkin' Tech: Trump campaign website hacked and defaced 2020-10-28
- On Oct. 27, 2020 shortly before 6 p.m. central time, Donald Trump's campaign website,, was hacked. The hackers left a message claiming they had proof the Trump administration was involved the origin of the Corona Virus ...

Gay News

Talkin' Tech: Election technology; Pitfalls and triumphs explained 2020-10-27
- It is election season 2020 and a lot of false information is circling the recent news (and fake news) regarding your vote. The 2016 elections showed a lot of technology pitfalls when it came to foreign ...

Gay News

Live election night tracking to watch for 310 Victory Fund endorsed candidates 2020-10-27
--From a press release - Washington, DC — Today LGBTQ Victory Fund shared eight LGBTQ Election Night stories to watch and announced it will live track results for its 310 LGBTQ endorsed candidates on Election Night. Victory Fund will provide live ...

Gay News

Justice Amy Coney Barrett confirmed to U.S. Supreme Court, groups respond 2020-10-26
--From press releases - NCLR Statement on Rushed Confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to U.S. Supreme Court: SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Today, the United States Senate voted along party lines to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to a lifetime appointment ...

Gay News

U.S. Senate confirms Coney Barrett to Supreme Court 2020-10-26
- The U.S. Senate voted Oct. 26 to confirm the nomination of right-wing federal appeals judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. The vote was 52 to 48, with only one Republican voting against confirmation. ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Marriage support, GLSEN, LGBTQ voting campaigns 2020-10-26
- Seventy percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, according to the 11th annual American Values Survey—the highest percentage recorded by a major national poll, NBC News reported. The results found just 28 percent of respondents oppose the ...

Gay News

Undocumented LGBTQ+ activists speak on importance of voting 2020-10-23
--From a press release - Los Angeles, CA. - Queer and undocumented filmmaker Armando Ibañez is releasing the videos of 9 undocumented LGTQ+ activists speaking on the importance of the 2020 elections to undocumented communities as part of the #VotaJota digital ...

Gay News

LGBTQAs plan "Get Out The Vote" event for Michigan candidate 2020-10-22
--From a press release - Chicago, IL — Members of Chicagoland's LGBTQ+ Allies community have organized a COVID-19 responsible day of "Get Out The Vote" (GOTV) canvassing in Southwest Michigan's Berrien County on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020 to turn out ...

Gay News

Virtual Town Hall on Cook County budget Oct. 23 2020-10-21
--From a press release - SCHAUMBURG, Ill. —October 21, 2020— Cook County Commissioner Kevin B. Morrison will host a live Virtual Town Hall discussing the Cook County 2021 Budget on Friday at 1:30 p.m. He will be joined by Cook County ...

Gay News

Lightfoot releases 2021 budget proposal 2020-10-21
- On Oct. 21, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot presented to City Council the 2021 budget recommendations—described in a press release as "a fiscally responsible spending plan that leads the City along the road to recovery from the ...

Gay News

Equality Illinois town hall focuses on 2020 vote 2020-10-19
- Equality Illinois held an Oct. 19 town hall discussion to discuss the current state of the voting process. A relatively-energized electorate is expected to show up to the polls by Nov. 3—which has been referred to ...

Gay News

Diversity report: More than 1,000 LGBTQs running for office 2020-10-19
- LGBTQ Victory Fund— the only national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ leaders to public office—released its inaugural "Out on the Trail" report, which details the diversity of LGBTQ candidates who ran for office in 2020. At ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs     
Privacy Policy      Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.