Obama and the Ex-Gay

So Barack Obama decided to do a series of gospel concerts/campaign appearances across South Carolina, and invited ex-gay and current homobigot gospel singer Donnie McClurkin to be a part of it. Naturally, this is not a popular decision. See Pam and Earl Ofari Hutchison and Truth Wins Out, for a start.

The campaign was keeping mum on the whole thing until last night, at which point it finally issued a statement repudiating McClurkin's views:

"I have clearly stated my belief that gays and lesbians are our brothers and sisters and should be provided the respect, dignity, and rights of all other citizens. I have consistently spoken directly to African-American religious leaders about the need to overcome the homophobia that persists in some parts our community so that we can confront issues like HIV/AIDS and broaden the reach of equal rights in this country," Obama said in the written statement.

"I strongly believe that African Americans and the LGBT community must stand together in the fight for equal rights. And so I strongly disagree with Reverend McClurkin’s views and will continue to fight for these rights as President of the United States to ensure that America is a country that spreads tolerance instead of division," the statement added.
And then a campaign spokesperson "said McClurkin would remain part of the concert line-up."


I can't—and don't—believe that Obama is stupid enough to think that sharing the stage with McClurkin, who claims he was made gay by being raped by his uncle (but is now "cured") and who compares same-sex attraction to compulsive lying, is a positive step toward overcoming homophobia. Nor do I believe he could argue with a straight face that sharing the stage with a divisive figure like McClurkin is in any way congruent with his belief that "African Americans and the LGBT community must stand together in the fight for equal rights."

It's great that he's got a vision of American as "a country that spreads tolerance instead of division." Thing is, he's not leading the way.

UPDATE: Obama's trying to put out his big gay fire with a conference call. Good luck.

UPDATE 2: Earl Ofari Hutchison responds: "Obama's response to my call for him to reject support of Grammy winning singer and anti gay crusader, Donnie McClurkin was a big, bold, and direct claim that he will fight anti-gay phobia, and aggressively challenge religious leaders to do the same. One of those at the top of the list of religious leaders that he says that he challenged is McClurkin. But one line missing from his disavowal of gay bashing was this: "I will not appear on stage with Reverend McClurkin unless he publicly disavows his rabid anti-gay statements and crusade." Since Obama didn't add that line, this question still dangles dangerously. How hard will Obama fight as president for tolerance, specifically against anti gay bigotry? This is the supreme litmus test for any candidate that purports to champion diversity and tolerance." Read the whole thing.

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