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Obama to speak at Barnard alongside gay marriage activist

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President Obama will speak at Barnard College in New York Monday afternoon at the same graduation ceremony that will honor Evan Wolfson, who is known as the “godfather of Gay Marriage.”

Mr. Wolfson, the founder and president of “Freedom to Marry,” who has been fighting to allow gays the right to wed for 30 years, will be receiving Barnard’s Medal of Distinction. The award was booked well in advance of the president’s historic announcement last Wednesday that he had changed his position to support same-sex unions.

The timing of the president’s address has spurred questions about whether Mr. Obama’s announcement on same-sex marriage was affected by his decision to accept the invitation to speak.

WYNC reports that Barnard originally booked New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson, who agreed to step aside when Mr. Obama asked to address the women’s college after a firestorm erupted over new administration mandates on contraception coverage as part of the new health care law.

Monday evening, Mr. Obama will attend two fundraisers in New York, including one hosted by Ricky Martin and a gay organization organized to thank him for his support for gay marriage.

About 200 people are expected to attend the Chelsea fundraiser, sponsored by the LGBT Leaders Council and the Futuro Fund. The later fundraiser will take place at a private residence with tickets at $35,800.

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Susan Crabtree

Susan Crabtree is an award-winning investigative reporter with more than 15 years of reporting experience in Washington, D.C. Her reporting about bribery, corruption and conflict-of-interest issues on Capitol Hill has led to several FBI and ethics investigations, as well as consequences for members within their caucuses and at the ballot box. Susan can be reached at

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