New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters led Monday's front-page cheers for the new enthusiasm in the gay community surrounding Barack Obama's reelection campaign: "In Gay Pride Legions, Seeing an Obama Army."
To most passers-by, the tens of thousands of people who jammed the sidewalks of Greenwich Village on Sunday were just the typical tank-top-clad revelers of a gay pride weekend.
But to Aaron Levine, a 19-year-old, clipboard-toting volunteer sent there by the Obama campaign, everyone was a potential get. A group of twenty-somethings huddled in the shade under a Starbucks awning trying to stay cool: “They’re perfect,” he said. The long line outside the Duplex, a nightclub with views of the parade route: “They have nothing else to do now but sign up. It’s great.”
Mr. Levine was one of hundreds of Obama field staff members and volunteers who fanned out at a dozen gay pride celebrations across the country over the weekend with a meticulous set of marching orders from the Chicago campaign headquarters: Get names, cellphone numbers, and e-mail and home addresses. But most important, get commitments to volunteer.
At times, the parades could have been confused for Obama campaign rallies. In Chicago on Sunday, 300 of his campaign staff members and volunteers marched down Halsted Street through the heart of the gay district to chants of “Four more years! Four more years!” Along Fifth Avenue in New York, a group of about 200 Obama supporters who walked the parade route were cheered by crowds waving powder-blue “L.G.B.T. for Obama” placards, referring to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. “Obama! Obama!” the onlookers cried.
Gays are more enthusiastic about Obama now that he has come out in support of gay marriage:
Now, campaign officials and other top Democrats said this was their best chance yet to convert enthusiasm among gay men and lesbians for Mr. Obama into more than just votes.
Peters unloaded a sentence that will probably annoy people all along the political spectrum:
Gay pride marches are the Democratic Party’s equivalent of Tea Party rallies. There are few places this year where the Obama campaign is likely to find more motivated and supportive voters. “Pride is probably the best opportunity to engage the community in large, concentrated numbers,” said Jamie Citron, the national L.G.B.T. vote director for the Obama campaign.
Peters only glancingly brought up the more explicit, decidedly un-mainstream participants in Manhattan's gay pride parade.
In New York on Sunday, the Obama contingent was tame compared with other parade participants. There was no stereo blaring Whitney Houston or the Weather Girls, and no float festooned with rainbow streamers or muscled go-go boys. But that did not dampen enthusiasm on the sidewalks, where people were grabbing Obama Pride stickers by the handful.
Another promotional story on gay rights, by Katharine Seelye, made the front of Sunday's National section: "Second Time Around, Hope for Gay Marriage in Maine."
Three years after voters in Maine rejected same-sex marriage, they will consider the matter again in November. This time, advocates say they have reason for optimism.
They point to a shift in public opinion, the personal support for same-sex marriage voiced last month by President Obama and what they believe is an effective door-to-door “persuasion” campaign throughout the state.