By Michael Martinez, CNN
(CNN) - He has been declared America's "first gay president."
But President Barack Obama's evolution to that title hasn't been easy. His positions zig-zagged over almost two decades.
The president and the nation have evolved on same-sex marriage
His advocacy of same-sex marriage began well before his White House years, tracing back to his early political service in Illinois. The effectiveness of his leadership, however, will be determined by the U.S. Supreme Court as it considers a California ban on same-sex marriage.
1996: While running for the Illinois Senate, Obama signs a questionnaire for a gay Chicago publication saying he favors legalizing same-sex marriages. He later wins the race.
1998: He alters course and answers "undecided" on same-sex marriage when questioned in another survey.
2003: In his campaign for the Illinois Senate, Obama says in a questionnaire that he is against repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 federal law that states for federal purposes, marriage is defined as only between one man and one woman.
2004: When running for the U.S. Senate, he notes he is "a Christian" and that "marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman." He wins the race.
(CNN) - The Illinois Senate will vote Thursday - Valentine's Day - on whether to legalize same-sex marriage.
Because Democrats have supermajority control of the General Assembly, the measure is expected to be approved. After the Senate vote, the measure would be considered by the House.
Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has indicated he would sign the bill.
If it is approved, Illinois would be the 10th state, plus the District of Columbia, to legalize same-sex marriage, according to Lambda Legal, a gay rights organization.
Three other states are considering similar legalization, said Camilla Taylor, marriage project director for Lambda Legal. A bill has passed the Rhode Island House and has been sent to the Senate. A proposal has been introduced in the Hawaii legislature and another is expected in Delaware, Taylor said.
Los Angeles (CNN) - A new cable network for Latino audiences will mark the culmination of two decades of filmmaking for writer-director Robert Rodriguez, who is leading the ambitious effort.
"I've been on this journey for 20 years now ... and this seems to be the reason," " Rodriguez said Friday during a conference of independent Latino filmmakers and documentarians.
"What's great about this is that no one is doing this for an audience that is growing so fast," Rodriguez said, referring to how Latinos are now the nation's No. 2 group in the latest census, surpassing the 50 million mark.
"When you think that there's nothing on television like this, it boggles the mind."
The El Rey network starts broadcasting between September 2013 and January 2014. It is a daunting venture as talk show queen Oprah has discovered at her struggling OWN Network, whose woes have resulted in recent layoffs.
Read the full story
By Jaqueline Hurtado and Michael Martinez, CNN
(CNN) - A California doctoral student who's an undocumented immigrant has published a free how-to guide on the Internet instructing similar immigrants on finding employment after college and maintaining good health "living in the shadows."
The inspiration for the book came from her family, she said.
"My father has always told me look for solutions instead of the problems," says Iliana Guadalupe Perez, an immigrant since the age of 8 when her parents brought her to the United States from Mexico.
"I always try to find the solution to the problem, if this door closed, what can I do so it opens to me?"
Perez's immigration status has been her biggest problem: she is part of the millions of undocumented students around the country. But she is also a college graduate, and yet her legal status still stands in the way of her job prospects. It's to the point where she wonders if doors won't open, could there be a window?
Read the full post on CNN's Schools of Thought blog
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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