No Homophobic Nation: From Will & Grace to Barack & Sonia

Posted on March 4, 2013 by Ruth O’Brien

Richard W. Stevenson’s right-corner lead in today’s New York Times lists it all: governors from red states signing on with Obamacare (it’s no longer a bad word, btw); red Republican senators poised to concede some points on Obama’s vision about immigration reform; and a democratic populace in both red and blue states who can no longer be counted on for their homophobia.  And as blogged before, I like the color purple when it comes to political parties, particularly when it indicates both sides collide.

Put positively, the populace has grown liberal, or expansive in its tastes, but it took Obama, who himself did a public turnaround on LGBTers, to lead the nation as it began expressing its own turnaround on culturally conservative issues.  For those studying the seismic, not subtle, cracks in American pop culture knew that Will and Grace did not just play well in the blue states; it played well in all states.  Indeed, years ago the Times did a piece on how the red states loved those tawdry television shows filled with sexual innuendo and violence in a you-can’t-have-it illicit type of extra-special bad dessert for former Confederate state viewers along with those in the Mountain states.

So what’s next for the turn-’em-around-and-lead-’em-in-the-right-direction (which happens to be left) president?  Well, a Supreme Court battle is brewing, if last week’sshameful display of questions about the Voting Rights Act from Justice Antonin Scalia is any indication.

And it looks like the Court is busy as it prepares for its June rulings on immigration and same-sex marriage. Yet, most important, it looks like the social-conservative Catholics on the Court will clash with the liberals and progressives on the Court in not one, but several cases about DOMA alone.

While Catholics dominate the Court, Sonia Sotomayor’s Catholicism, offset by her progressive stance on poverty, shows that once again, Obama was thinking ahead.  Knowing how divided the Court would be, Obama did not want a full-out religious war that could also be divided along partisan grounds.  He’s much too clever a cosmopolitan rainbow leader for that.

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About Ruth O'Brien

Professor Ruth O'Brien, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York (CUNY) & Honorary Unaffiliated Academic Book Series Editor for The Public Square, Princeton University Press & Heretical Thought, Oxford University Press, USA Last book: Out of Many, One: Obama & the Third American Political Tradition (U of Chicago 2013). Nickname: Professorette by Rush Limbaugh (see

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