Steve Ralls

The Disinvitation Isn't in the Mail

Filed By Steve Ralls | October 22, 2007 8:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, Donnie McClurkin, ex-gay, pam spaulding

Senator Barack Obama isn't backing down from his decision to include ex-gay minister Donnie McClurkin as part of a campaign swing through the south. Obama's campaign has now said that the Illinois Democrat "strongly disagree(s)" with McClurkin's views on sexual orientation . . . but not enough to remove him from the line-up of his "Embrace the Change" tour.

Obama's decision to have McClurkin as part of a group of gospel singers campaigning for his presidential candidacy has received widespread coverage, and prompted one gay activist involved with the campaign to acknowledge that the situation has become difficult. "This story is quickly turning into a disaster for Barack," said the supporter who is active on gay and lesbian issues. "He's screwed if he goes through with the trip with Donnie McClurkin….But he's also screwed in South Carolina if he dumps McClurkin. I hope that the staffer who set this up has already been fired."

Punting the blame to the staffer, though, only gives the impression that Senator Obama himself hasn't been as involved in the process as he should have been. And while it is a step in the right direction to state that the Senator disagrees with McClurkin, it doesn't mean that the minister who "counsels" young people about coming out of homosexuality won't be put up on stage and presented as a credible voice. He will be, and that will only reinforce the serious concerns many people have had about the concert and the campaign.

McClurkin, who has performed for President Bush in the past, has given sermons about "overcoming" his sexuality and has been a friend of the GOP. That a Democratic candidate who is aggressively courting the LGBT vote would so visibly add McClurkin to his campaign trail stage is troubling, to say the least.

"Obama has spent months telling everyone that he's everything that Bush isn't," Earl Ofari Hutchinson wrote today on HuffingtonPost. "He can [prove] it by saying a resounding no to McClurkin and to gay bashing. He can cancel and repudiate the South Carolina 'gospel' tour, and do it now. "

"[H]ealing and consensus building," Hutchinson correctly points out, "does not mean sucking up to someone that publicly boasts that he's in a 'war' against gays, and that the aim of his war is to 'cure' them."

And while I don't necessarily agree that the entire tour should be cancelled, I do believe Obama should distance himself from McClurkin by telling him 'thanks, but no thanks' on the public appearance bit.

Instead, Senator Obama has issued a two-paragraph statement touting his work on gay and HIV/AIDS issues. It reads:

"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 of our community so that we can confront issues like HIV/AIDS and broaden the reach of equal rights in this country."

"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."

Those are all good things, but McClurkin hasn't given any indication that he's going to "stand together" with Obama "in the fight for equal rights."

The statement, as my friend Pam Spaulding succintly put it, "is a sorry response, a feeble attempt to have it both ways."

And while I admire the Senator for his passion and past work on issues important to our community, this statement just doesn't seem like the change LGBT Americans should embrace.

Why won't Senator Obama just put the disinvitation in the mail?

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Yup, one of the major aspects with his campaign that I've had issues with is that he's not secular enough for my tastes.

If he wishes to sacrifice the LGBT for appealing to the black church crowd, one of our most vicious opponents, then good riddance! I grow ever more appalled at just how badly our wall of church-state separation has deteriorated.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | October 23, 2007 12:33 AM


I take serious issue with you calling Black people "one of our most vicious opponents." Its not Black people that are running the Catholic Church, screaming "God hates fags," pushing anti-gay constitutional amendments, working to repeal state level LGBT civil rights legislation etc. Its white people.

There are definitely some Black people who are homophobic like Ken Hutcherson, but the numbers pale in comparison to the number of white led groups like Concerned Women for America, Focus on the Family and Heritage Foundation that work 24/7 to bash LGBT people.

McClurkin said in a phone interview that he doesn't believe homosexuality is God's intention. However, he said he does not believe in discriminating against homosexuals.

Steve Ralls Steve Ralls | October 23, 2007 8:19 AM

I have to agree with Michael. This is not, by any means, about race.

There are African American leaders in our country who are among our community's biggest champions: Sheila Jackson-Lee, Jesse Jackson, Al Shaprton, John Conyers, Carol Moseley Braun, Maxine Waters, Elijah Cummings and John Lewis . . . just to name a few. Without them, many of the gains we have realized would not have happened.

This is about a very bad decision on Obama's part and not about the ethnic background of those involved.

I said the "black church crowd" because they differ in how the homophobic WASP churches approach religious issues; their methods of communication of their interpretations of gospels are different. You took my comments out of context and resorted to faultily assuming that I only perceive the black community to be the prime container of homophobes.

I talk about this demographic because it's relevant to this topic; Obama is not courting WASP church votes. Also, you quoted me but didn't seem to read my comment thoroughly enough, as you missed the "one of our most" part, which means that I DO take the other ethnic and racial counterparts into account.

I also pick up an apologist tone in your description of the black (I should have included "charismatic") church. Just like most churches with Southern roots, they are of the most socially retrograde kind. Seeing down here in Florida black church members in military uniforms isn't actually the most reassuring representation of acceptance. African Americans, along with Hispanics (Catholic and Evangelical alike, even though in Latin America the religious proportions are 90% Catholic, the other 10% divided between Protestants and Evangelicals) have the worst ratings on GLBT issues. Pam's site has a post that is a fine reflection on this issue. In comparison, more white religious leaders possess better ratings on LGBT issues, not to mention that the WASP community, unlike my Hispanic or your black community, has actually bothered to acknowledge LGBT's existence. I will not bother with my "community;" since it has such a hard time accepting people like me, I'd rather adopt another culture that is more receptive. If you, however, decide to stick with yours, where black heterosexuals constantly stab their own LGBT members on the back whenever they get a chance, I suggest that black LGBT leaders start working harder on their community rather than expecting white LGBTs to do the work for them by giving them visibility. It is outrageous that there are no visible Hispanic or black LGBT leaders; apparently they'd rather be accepeted and stay quiet. More Hispanic and black gay men stay closeted. I read an article on the Miami Herald where this organization leader for Hispanic and black LGBT men talks how most of these men do not want to call themselves gay because they dislike the feminine stereotypes associated with white gays. Out of all groups, it is simply infuriating that gay men would be so rabidly sexist themselves. I stand by my previously mentioned positions on other posts: Until the black and Hispanic communities don't liberate themselves from the iron grip of church culture, you are not going to see much progress.

I could not care less about which racial/ethnic-linked church is the most homophobic; I have nothing to gain by claiming either side. As an atheist, I see most organized religion as detrimental to the development of an open-minded society, anyways. Maybe I'm biased, maybe it's the resentful feminist in me that most strongly rails agains Hispanic and black culture, where sexism runs the most rampant. If anything else, you can always pin it down to me just being an irritated, bitchy atheist railing against the increasing push of trying to appeal to religious sectors for LGBT acceptance. I think we have more to teach them about community than they have to teach us.


Your Movable Type account is working now. If you sign in your comments won't be moderated. The system originally sent you an e-mail with a link to click to activate the account. You didn't click the link, but since I know you as a regular commentor I went ahead and activated the account.

Thanks,Bil, for some reason I did not receive the e-mail, even though I checked it constantly yesterday and today. I even checked all folders to see whether it got filtered out, but found nothing.

Nice rant there Lucrece. I've been in the same boat and I completely agree with you.

Steve, you're still totally ignorant of who this guy is, and what he actually believes.

You are right...this is in now way...a black issue. It is an issue of someone making a very poor choice. Mary Mary has said that gay people are like prostitutes and murderers but that she love us.....I say Fuck You Mary Mary and the holier than thou horse you rode in on. I don't need your conditional love.

I doubt that Rev Donnie is a closet case, I think it would be a safe bet that the boy is getting some dick somewhere.

I was a huge fan of the Obama camp. Now...not so much.

jack jett

Steve, the "war" comment is taken entirely out of context in this post. Dude hasn't said he's in a war against gays. That's false and inflammatory. Why do you have to lie to make your points?

If he wishes to sacrifice the LGBT for appealing to the black church crowd, one of our most vicious opponents, then good riddance!

Actually, I agree with this statement. The black church is overwhelmingly our "enemy" in the culture wars. So is the Baptist church. And the Pentecostal church. And the Reform Presbyterian.

I didn't take the statement as a racial statement, but more denominational. Obama is pandering to the black church because he's black. McCain claimed a different denomination so he could pander to his audience/base too. Same thing.