Jay-Z's gay marriage endorsement: More influential than Obama's?
AP Photo/Matt Rourke
The president isn't the only world-famous person whose stance on gay marriage has evolved. Hip-hop king Jay-Z also just publicly announced his support of same-sex marriage: "I've always thought [of] it as something that's still holding the country back," the rapper told CNN. "It's no different than discriminating against blacks. It's discrimination, plain and simple." The remarks come as pundits weigh whether President Obama's endorsement of marriage equality will hurt him with black voters. Obama won 95 percent of the black vote in 2008, but only 39 percent of black voters support gay marriage, according to an April poll. Could a supremely influential rapper whose past lyrics have been tinged with homophobia have more of an impact on black voters than Obama?
Yes. This is a huge deal: Jay-Z's endorsement is "as big a cultural step forward as the leader of the free world making the same claim," says Clinton Yates at The Washington Post. Jay-Z isn't a politician, and he's not supporting gay-marriage to get re-elected — it's because he feels it's right. Jay-Z is a leader in the massively influential hip-hop community, and this could "lead generations of music fans out of the fog," changing their attitudes toward homosexuals and same-sex marriage.
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And it's much more drastic than Obama's evolution: Jay-Z's remarks represent a 180-turn from the homophobic and even gay-hating lyrics of his past songs, says Marc Hogan at Spin. On 2001's "Takeover," for example, he called rival rapper Nas a "fag model" after Nas insinuated that Jay was homosexual. If the president's gradual evolution failed to change minds in the African-American community, then perhaps Jay's dramatic turnaround (the rapper is called "the hood's Barack") will lead to some true soul-searching.
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But Obama's stance isn't hurting him with black voters: The conventional wisdom was that "black voters will freak" when Obama backed same-sex marriage, says John Aravosis at The Daily Beast. But that's simply not the case. Instead, they "gave a collective shrug." A new Pew Research Poll reveals that 68 percent of African-Americans say Obama's embrace of gay marriage didn't change their opinion of him, even if they disagreed with the stance, while 16 percent said it actually made them view Obama more favorably. And for other voters disillusioned with Obama, the move showed courage that will bring the president "closer to winning in November."
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