Lesbian entertainer to perform at prestigious White House event
A comedian who publicly came out last year has been asked to appear at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.
Wanda Sykes will perform for President Obama and more than 2,000 Washington insiders and celebrities at the high-profile event on May 9th at the Washington Hilton.
Last year Ben Affleck, The Jonas Brothers and Pamela Anderson attended.
In 1924 Calvin Coolidge became the first of 14 Presidents to attend the dinner, which has become a key event in the political calendar.
Ms Sykes told AP that she would not shy away from making jokes at the expense of the new President.
“I’m not rooting against him at all, because, especially in this economy and everything, we need him to succeed,” she said.
“But there’s gonna be some incidents and missteps, like we saw with the whole tax thing.”
The selection and confirmation process has not been easy for President Obama.
His choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Daschle, withdrew after it emerged he had failed to pay almost £90,000 in taxes.
The nominee for Chief Performance Officer, Nancy Killefer, also withdrew over unpaid taxes.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was confirmed but it emerged during his hearing he had had to pay back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service.
Ms Sykes starred as herself in the acclaimed comedy show Curb Your Enthusiasm and as Barb in the series The New Adventures of Old Christine, opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
She won an Emmy in 1999 for Outstanding Writing for a Variety or Music Programme for The Chris Rock Show.
In November Ms Sykes spoke publicly of her pride at being a black lesbian at a rally protesting the passage of Proposition 8, a ballot measure denying Californian gay and lesbian couples the right to marry.
It was approved by voters in the state, bringing to an end several months of legal gay marriage.
Ms Sykes was one of 18,000 gay people who married their partner in California before the ban.
The legality of Prop 8 is being challenged in the California Supreme Court.
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“You know, I don’t really talk about my sexual orientation,” Ms Sykes said at the rally.
“I didn’t feel like I had to. I was just living my life, not necessarily in the closet, but I was living my life.
“Everybody that knows me personally they know I’m gay. But that’s the way people should be able to live their lives.
“Now, I gotta get in their face. I’m proud to be a woman. I’m proud to be a black woman, and I’m proud to be gay.”
President Obama has committed himself to a wide range of gay rights measures, including federal hate crimes protection for LGBT people, protection from discrimination at work and full equal marriage rights via civil partnerships.
He does not support gay marriage.