Opinion: Obama's speech shows changes for same-sex parents
President Barack Obama's speech at Barnard highlighted how the conversation around gay rights has progressed on campus.
May 14th, 2012
07:08 PM ET

Opinion: Obama's speech shows changes for same-sex parents

Editor's note: Rose Arce is a senior producer at CNN and a contributor to Mamiverse, a website for Latinas and their families.

By Rose Arce, CNN

(CNN) - Monday morning, as we scrambled to get Luna off to school, there came a moment when the timeline of my life leapt into fast-forward. I was carrying around an iPad turned to CNN, checking in to see what news awaited me at work, while Luna danced around me, knowing my partner or I would turn off the TV if watching it slowed her down. Then, suddenly, something brought us to a halt.

"President Barack Obama is speaking at Barnard College today," the news reader said. Our eyes widened, and we shot each other a smile. The president was speaking at Mama's school.

I had arrived at Barnard in 1983, fresh from a school run by Jesuit priests, where gay groups were banned from the premises. A boy I'd known had been severely harassed for being gay. Barnard was a long step better, but on the first day of college, my dorm mates fell into silence when one young woman delivered this news: "I have two mothers," she said.

I remember asking whether one was her stepmother. "No. My mothers are gay," she said. "They had me together." She looked so uncomfortable, and no one was stepping up to make her feel any better.

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Filed under: Politics • Sexual orientation • What we think
From first black president to 'first gay president'?
The covers of Newsweek and The New Yorker take note of President Barack Obama's support of same-sex marriage.
May 14th, 2012
04:30 PM ET

From first black president to 'first gay president'?

By Mallory Simon, CNN

(CNN) - As if becoming the first black president wasn't momentous enough, Barack Obama has just been handed a new title: "First gay president."

A Newsweek magazine cover bestowed that distinction on Obama this week with a picture of the president and a rainbow halo. If you view that as a naked attempt to grab your attention, capitalize on the moment and have you pick up a newsmagazine, you might be right.

But that illustration along with a New Yorker cover showing the columns of the White House lit up in rainbow colors certainly shows how the president’s public support of same-sex marriage has pushed the issue back into the spotlight.

The magazines’ choices also speak to the broad cultural impact of Obama's announcement and pose questions about whether this moment may become a lasting part of his legacy.

That's not to say the president's announcement is necessarily a watershed moment. It earned him kudos and criticism despite the fact that he left the legal standing of same-sex marriage in the hands of the states and made no policy changes.

The issue also is far from resolved in the African-American community, and some conservatives say Obama's announcement comes at a political cost.

CNN.com's John Blake writes that some suggest the black church may punish Obama for announcing his support for same-sex marriage.

As millions went to church this weekend after the president's announcement, clergy across the country offered their opinions, with the words of black pastors a key base of support for Obama in 2008 carrying special weight in a presidential election year. But black pastors were hardly monolithic in addressing Obama's remarks.

Read the full story on CNN's This Just In blog

Who's a Native American? It's complicated
Claiming Native American ancestry is one thing, but claiming tribal citizenship is another.
May 14th, 2012
02:07 PM ET

Who's a Native American? It's complicated

By Stephanie Siek, CNN

(CNN) – The recent controversy over Massachusetts congressional candidate Elizabeth Warren's Native American ancestry, where the campaign of her opponent for a senate seat called for her to release documents claiming her Cherokee ancestry, has caused some to ask: What makes someone "legitimately" Native American? And who gets to make that determination?

"Fundamentally, it's the tribe’s right to determine who its citizens are and are not. If we don't know (whether someone is American Indian), we can ask the tribe," said Julia Good Fox, professor of American Indian Studies at Haskell Indian Nations University.

Good Fox furthermore points out that citizenship is distinct from ancestry. Tribes have the sovereign right to determine who is and isn't a citizen, just as France and the United States have their own rules about citizenship. Anyone can claim ancestry, but those who do so can't always claim citizenship, Good Fox said.

Determining who is and isn't a member of a tribe can be complicated, and the answers don’t always come in a binary form of "yes" or "no." Part of the reason such determinations can be controversial is because tribes' own rules for establishing membership can vary widely. FULL POST

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Filed under: Community • Language • Native Americans • Race • Who we are
Engage: Is being fat really what black women want?
A recent article in the New York Times suggested that black women are overweight by choice.
May 14th, 2012
12:50 PM ET

Engage: Is being fat really what black women want?

Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.

Opinion: Social, environmental factors play role in increased number of women of color who are overweight  - Time, in response to this article

Profile: Chess champ may be the next Bobby Fischer - National Public Radio

University of Southern California honors interned Japanese students with degrees - The Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Injustices remain with NYPD's stop and frisk program - The New York Times

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Filed under: Engage
May 14th, 2012
09:12 AM ET

Across country, black pastors weigh in on Obama's same-sex marriage support

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Washington (CNN) – Addressing his large, mostly black congregation on Sunday morning, the Rev. Wallace Charles Smith did not mince words about where he stood on President Barack Obama's newly announced support for same-sex marriage: The church is against it, he said, prompting shouts of "Amen!" from the pews.

And yet Smith hardly issued a full condemnation of the president.

"We may disagree with our president on this one issue," Smith said from the pulpit of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington. "But we will keep him lifted up in prayer. ... Pray for President Barack Obama."

And Smith said there were much bigger challenges facing the black community – "larger challenges that we have to struggle with" – bringing his full congregation to its feet, with many more amens.

Days after Obama announced his personal support for same-sex marriage, pastors across the country offered their Sunday-morning opinions on the development, with the words of black pastors – a key base of support for Obama in 2008, that is also largely opposed to gay marriage – carrying special weight in a presidential election year. But black pastors were hardly monolithic in addressing Obama's remarks.

Read the full post on CNN's Belief blog