Tony Kushner, Husband Praise Obama’s ‘Lincolnian’ Endorsement of Marriage Equality at White House Screening

As you probably know, Steven Spielberg's Tony Kushner-penned Lincoln opens today, and it opened last night at a special screening for Obama at the White House, the Daily Beast reports:

Lincoln_obamaKushner joined moderator Tina Brown on a summit panel about the making of the film, saying he thought Obama “really liked it." The president's entourage also "seemed to like it," he said. "They all stood up.” Then he joked, “Maybe they do that every time.” Clearly having an unusual evening, he added with a laugh, as if to explain his somewhat harried state, “I just literally walked out of the White House. I couldn't find the limo.”

Kushner, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his play Angels in America, said he wrote three drafts of the Lincoln script, which ultimately zoomed in on the president’s life during the passage of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. The film is based in part on the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

The film's subject resonated with Kushner and his husband (EW editor Mark Harris) in a personal way:

Kushner said he talked personally with Obama about the film on Thursday night and that the president “really knows his Lincoln.”

Kushner also said he felt that Obama’s decision to express support for gay marriage was “very Lincolnian.” He said, “I think it was handled with absolute strategic and moral perfection. It arrived at exactly the right moment. As my husband said to him tonight, it was a life-changing moment when the president of the U.S. said that.”

Watch Tony Kushner Explain Why Lincoln Isn't Gay In 'Lincoln': VIDEO [tlrd]


  1. jason says

    Wasn’t Lincoln supposed to share a bed with a male friend? Why did Tony Kushner apparently leave out this important piece of detail? One wonders if Kushner himself is homophobic.

    I don’t care if Kushner is gay or not. Gay people are perfectly capable of homophobia. The Hollywood gays are particularly prone to censoring homosexuality or other forms of relationships between men.

    As for Kushner praising Obama, sounds like typical sycophancy. I want to see what happens at the legislative level, not at the level of meaningless Presidential statements designed for fund-raising purposes.

  2. Pete N SFO says

    Whatever, dude…

    I have really high hopes for this film if it’s actually as described in this entry. I listened to DKG’s book on a road trip & Lincoln’s actions absolutely mirror the strategic steps that the Obama administration has taken on our equality issue of the day.

    Lincoln was far more grey, than he was black or white, on this issue. I do think he got there, but that’s never the version that will be taught in schools.

  3. jason says

    Well, it’s on the historical record that Lincoln slept with a man. If it’s deliberately been left out of the movie, I won’t be going to see it. I think all gay people should boycott Lincoln if it’s been left out on purpose.

  4. UFFDA says

    Read Kushers earlier statement on this site, as noted.
    Who Lincoln slept with is of no strategic importance whatever to the larger story of abolition which is what this film is primarily concerned with.

  5. Patric says

    Jason, first of all, the biggest advances in the next couple of years in terms of our legal equality are likely to come from state governments and the courts and we are fortunate in that regard that we have great Democratic governors like Mark Dayton in Minnesota and Neil Abercrombie in Hawaii and Jack Markell in Delaware and Pat Quinn in Illinois championing our cause and unfortunate that we have anti-gay Republican governors like Chris Christie in New Jersey and Susana Martinez in New Mexico blocking our efforts. We’re fortunate also that we can solidly rely on the votes at the Supreme Court of at least the four Justices appointed by Presidents Clinton and Obama but of course need to worry about the votes of those appointed by Reagan and the Bushes.

    If you’re looking for any actions from the federal government in the next couple of years, they’ll have to come from an executive order, as there is no prospect of a legislative repeal of DOMA or passage of ENDA as long as your party – and, yes, you’ve been writing on this site long enough to make clear to all of us that the Republican Party is your party, your occasional protestations notwithstanding – controls the House of Representatives. So, if you are so concerned about “what happens at the legislative level,” why don’t you write to Mitch McConnell and ask him to pledge to not filibuster ENDA or DOMA repeal or write to Susan Collins and ask her to co-sponsor DOMA repeal or write to John Boehner and ask him to stop wasting taxpayer funds on defense of DOMA in the courts, etc.? We could get a lot done legislatively this upcoming session if your party would play ball but the last four years make clear that your party is determined to block the President at every turn, on gay rights and other issues.

  6. Caliban says

    One of these days Jason is going to post something and my eyes are going to roll right out of my head. Yesterday’s TR article about Lincoln touched on the “Was Lincoln gay?” question, so if you want to discuss that, that’s a good place to do it.

    As to whether Obama is “Lincolnian” for being the first President to address gay rights in a meaningful way, I’d say…. yes AND no. It’s certainly a divisive issue right now and Obama came out in support of gay marriage “personally,” and that surely cost him votes. At the same time, by framing it as a personal opinion and saying the states should decide the issue he was far less bold than Lincoln.

    I believe some of Obama’s position is political gamesmanship, which might be necessary at this time, because the American public has not yet reached the level of support needed to SUCCESSFULLY prosecute a national decision. Obama has surely moved the ball forward but it may be left for a future President to make the goal.

  7. Zell says

    I’m not sure I’m comfortable comparing Obama’s support of gay marriage to Lincoln, as there is no comparison between not being allowed to marry and slavery. Also, let’s not be too hasty to kiss Obama’s feet just yet. I’m glad he was reelected over Romney but his record isn’t great, particularly on civil liberties. Towleroad referenced a Glenn Greenwald article the other day; Greenwald (who is gay and progressive) is one of Obama’s fiercest critics on the left. A quick glance at his page at the Guardian will have anyone questioning their blind devotion to Obama.

  8. Belthazar says

    As to LGBT issues, this President has moved “the ball” further than any US President. And that is fact driven and not blind devotion. If you are in the military, I think they would argue that a major goal (not all) was achieved – not being dishonorably discharged for no other reason than being gay. If Marriage Equality is the ‘goal’, we will find out during his term via the SCOTUS.

    With that said, I believe “Marriage” is a state issue (10th Amendment), and therefore, the Federal Government (Congress/Clinton) exceeded their authority with the passage of DOMA – “…impermissible federal intrusion…” It is not within the privy of the Federal Government to dictate who cannot get married.

    From there, we get into the Equal Protection Clause (14th Amendment) to reign-in States that discriminate against (infringe) Interracial (Loving v. Virginia) or Same Sex Couples from Marriage. Now that we have States that have recognized Marriage Equality, the Full Faith and Credit Clause, along with the 14th Amendment, could (should) play a role in the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision.

    So, from the beginning, we all knew DOMA would end up in at SCOTUS.

  9. Icebloo says

    I’m an Obama supporter but even I think he only said he supported gays so we would give him our millions of dollars for his campaign because he was really far behind Romney’s fund raising.

    Obama has said he will not force gay marriage on the states. How can someone who says they support us not want us to be equal ? Can you imagine him refusing to force the states to end slavery or anything related to race ?

    I’m glad Obama won but I don’t expect him to do anything for us over the next 4 years. He’s already had our vote and our money so he doesn’t need to keep us sweet any more.

    The reason we got so much out of the first four years is Nancy Pelosi. She pushed and pushed the President when others had forgotten us. Pelosi needs to be recognized by our community for the endless support she has give us and the many attacks she has received because of it.

  10. Derrick from Philly says

    “Can you imagine him refusing to force the states to end slavery or anything related to race ?”

    Lincoln did. During his first term he refused to end slavery in slave states loyal to the union, and in those rebel territories captured by the union.

    General Butler in charge of captured Louisiana territory refused to obey the President. He refused to send escaped slaves back to their owners.

    General Butler is my hero (even though I can’t remember his first name).

  11. Derrick from Philly says

    General Benjamin Franklin Butler was his name. He did refuse to return escaped slaves, but he put them to work and labeled them “contraband”. Nobody’s a saint.

    I keep forgetting: always Google your stuff before you post your stuff.

  12. Rob says

    It’s clear from CA Tripp’s book that Lincoln was gay by today’s standards. Gore Vidal knew a lot about Lincoln and agreed. People see in Lincoln what they want to see, as Doris has said. Since he is a straight icon, people ignore his obvious intimacy with Joshua Speed and Edwin Didrickson. Tripp’s book is carefully researched by a rare historian and sexologist and is right on the mark.