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Study: Obamas replace TV's Huxtables as black marriage role model

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

Move over Cliff and Clair Huxtable: Barack and Michelle Obama have replaced the star characters of the 1980s TV hit "The Cosby Show" as the role model for love, romance and marriage among blacks, according to a new study.

"The Obamas picked up where the Huxtables left off, except this is no act," according to the study in the scholarly journal "Ethnicities" and conducted by experts from Louisiana State University and Norfolk State University.

The Obama's have been idolized for the style and politics by supporters, but this is the first time their "love" and marriage have been called a model for Americans. "The Obamas are the strongest and most visible example of black love and happy marriage in the USA," said the study.

The Obama hand-holding, public cuddling and close dancing at events like Monday's Inaugural are so impactful, said the study, that blacks may "pattern their romantic lives after this highly and recognizable couple."

The study, provided to Secrets, was prompted by the contrast of the affection the Obama's show in public to the fact that the black marriage rate is low, just 41 percent compared to 62 percent for whites. The authors posed questions about their view of the Obama's to men and women from five states.

The result: 82 percent said that the Obamas "can positively change the declining marriage rates among blacks." And with the help of the media, which fawns over their relationship, the "Obamas can give African Americans a template by which to pattern their own marital and professional success," said the study.

One of the participants in the study even suggested that the Obamas are helping to change how blacks love and take care of themselves. Quoting the participant, the study said, "the Obamas have the power to influence black love, black beauty and better health practices among black women."

And the Obama model isn't just for blacks. Theirs has the potential to impact all races, said the study, and especially the young.

"Since young voters (18-29 years of age) were the driving force behind the election of President Obama, the Obama marriage may motivate the young, many of whom have started, or are on the brink of starting, families, to adopt many of the traditional values that are foundational in black families," said the study. "In addition, even though they may not see many strong models of marriage in their families or communities, black youth (as well as those who are older) may work to deepen their faith in God, spousal commitment, and communication, in order to have a strong black marriage that mirrors that of the Obamas."