Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm guessing Clay Aiken is the first "American Idol" contestant to appear as a guest on CBS's "Face the Nation." Clay, who is also a finalist on the current season of "The Celebrity Apprentice," was in-studio this morning on the Sunday morning news issues program to discuss gay marriage and the passing of North Carolina's constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
Host Bob Schieffer identified Clay as "American Idol singer and activist," and his first question to Clay was if he believed President Obama's recent statement supporting gay marriage "pretty much ensures" that he's going to lose North Carolina in the presidential election.
"I don't agree that it seals it up for him," Clay responded. "I think as people in North Carolina start to look at this amendment and realize what it's doing not just for same-sex couples but for straight couples as well, they're going to reject it."
Clay noted that some polls in North Carolina show that more than 60 percent of people support some sort of recognition for same-sex couples, and said he believed the amendment to be a "political calculation" on the part of some in the General Assembly.
Clay also said he believes President Obama's support of gay marriage was a statement of principle and not a political tactic. Shieffer then asked Clay if his decision to come out after having a child had any impact on his professional career. Schieffer noted that in country music, at least, the fan base is pretty conservative.
"It hasn't really had any impact at all in a negative sense," Clay told him. "It's had more of a positive impact." Clay told Schieffer that even the country music fan base is less conservative now than it was in 2003, when he was on "American Idol," and that in the past 9 years people have become more open and more understanding of homosexuality.
Clay also told Schieffer, referencing an earlier North Carolina constitutional amendment banning interracial marriage: "I really believe that in the next 20 years we're going to look back on this and be sort of ashamed of the fact that we were against this, just as we are ashamed today that we didn't let people of different races get married."
Schieffer asked Clay if he was going to vote for President Obama in the next election and Clay said he voted for Obama in 2008, and he believes that all gay men and women are more energized to vote for Obama now. Clay told the News & Observer last week that even though he was disappointed that North Carolina's marriage amendment passed, he did not want people bashing his home state.
Other guests on Sunday's "Face the Nation" were Deval Patrick, Ted Olson, Tony Perkins, Evan Wolfson, Mark McKinnon, and Mike Rogers.
--Brooke Cain, staff writer