By Lucas Grindley
Originally published on Advocate.com January 27 2013 8:21 PM ET
Chris Hughes, the out Facebook co-founder and new owner of The New Republic, has finally relaunched the magazine brand and is starting with a big interview — with President Obama.
He and his hand-picked top editor, Frank Foer, spent just under 45 minutes talking with Obama about gun control, his impatience with Republicans, and LGBT issues came up more than once.
Hughes asked Obama whether he'd been able to break the Republicans' "fever" of obstructionism. And the president used marriage equality as an example where the GOP is embarking on soul searching.
"There are going to be some areas where that change is going to be very hard for Republicans," Obama predicted. "I suspect, for example, that already there are some Republicans who embrace the changing attitudes in the country as a whole around LGBT issues and same-sex marriage. But there's a big chunk of their constituency that is going to be deeply opposed to that, and they're going to have to figure out how they navigate what could end up being divisions in their own party. And that will play itself out over years."
The interview included mention of New Jersey governor Chris Christie as Obama noted the Republican "was getting hammered" by members of his own party for working together on Hurricane Sandy relief.
Then in an interview with ABC News, Hughes was asked about marriage equality and what he thinks of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg raising money for Christie. Even in his new role as journalist, Hughes didn't back away from criticizing Christie's leadership on LGBT equality.
"I, for one, have a lot of questions about Chris Christie, particularly because less than a year ago he vetoed a marriage equality bill in the New Jersey state legislature. Which for me personally, I got married to my husband last June, [it] was just really personally frustrating," Hughes said in an online exclusive on ABC. "I mean, there are tens of thousands of couples in New Jersey that can’t share their love and be recognized under the law because of that decision. I’m not a single issue voter, and I think most people aren’t either, but for me personally, it would raise serious concerns about supporting someone like him."
Hughes, who was a pivotal part of Obama's first campaign for president, also asked the president for his view on use of executive orders. He didn't ask specifically about whether the president would sign an order banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation among federal contractors — as activists have long been asking him to do. And the president didn't mention that issue in his answer. Instead, as his spokespeople have done in the past, Obama pointed to the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" as a policy change that is more lasting because it wasn't accomplished via executive order. He's made the same case for pursuing passage of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act over signing an executive order.
"I continue to believe that whenever we can codify something through legislation, it is on firmer ground," Obama explained. "It's not going to be reversed by a future president. It is something that will be long lasting and sturdier and more stable."
On DADT repeal, he said, "There were advocates in the LGBT community who were furious at me, saying, 'Why don't you just sign with a pen ordering the Pentagon to do this?' And my argument was that we could build a coalition to get this done, that having the Pentagon on our side and having them work through that process so that they felt confident they could continue to carry out their missions effectively would make it last and make it work for the brave men and women, gays and lesbians, who were serving not just now but in the future. And the proof of the pudding here is that not only did we get the law passed, but it's caused almost no controversy. It's been almost thoroughly embraced, whereas had I just moved ahead with an executive order, there would have been a huge blowback that might have set back the cause for a long time."
(Read the complete interview with President Obama at the new TNR.com)
Watch the ABC News interview with Hughes in the video below.