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    October 26, 2007

    A non-scandal's dying growls

    Posted by: Chris

    Obamamcclurkinsidden The mathematics of race and sexual orientation, cleverly illustrated by blogger Jasmyne Cannick.

    The Barack Obama "ex-gay" gospel scandal apparently grew legs to growl another day or three.  But the how's are particularly eyeroll-inducing:

    • Black lesbian blogger Jasmyne Cannick flipped a gasket at Obama's decision to invite a gay pastor to participate in the same South Carolina campaign tour that will include "ex-gay" singer Donnie McClurkin.  "What the hell were Obama’s people thinking when they invited a white openly gay minister to open for his South Carolina gospel concert with Donnie McClurkin?" wrote Cannick. 

      Let me get this straight:  White Americans should entrust a black man with the nation's highest office, to take responsibility for an enormous range of problems that impac their lives, but African-Americans can't hear from a white gay minister about anything relating to civil rights.  Smell the irony.

    • HRC was quick to react to suggestions by Cannick and others that it helped Obama come up with the  idea of including Rev. Andy Sidden. Not true, swears HRC, once again trying to sit the fence and satisfying no one.  HRC's blogger even offers up a couple of helpful black gay pastors Obama could have called upon.  He fails to mention, however, whether either minister actually supports Obama, which would seem to be an important criteria toward inclusion -- though not as important as race, apparently.

    • A South Carolina gay rights group isn't missing its piece of the action, and is planning a vigil outside the concert on Sunday. We queers just can't help but shoot ourselves in both feet, whether it's opposing historic gay rights legislation or holding vigils to protest a candidate that has the best positions on gay rights than anyone ever with a serious shot at the White House.  I don't just blame the clueless purists who run our activist groups.  I blame all of us, for ceding the game to them in the first place.

    • The gay blogosphere, which has played this controversy like a violin, continues apace.  The first words in a post on the topic yesterday by the sassy folks over at Queerty referred to Obama as "the pandering presidential candidate."  OK class, time to open our dictionaries. A candidate who "panders" is one who shifts in the wind, telling and doing exactly what each constituent group wants. Obama has stuck by his guns throughout this whole thing, risking alienating both gays and blacks (and the black gays who are member of both groups). 

    • Last but not least, the inevitable anonymous source has come out of the woodwork and claimed, without any evidence or corroboration, that he had a three-year "friends with benefits" relationship with "ex-gay" McClurkin from 2001-04, which just happens to be during the height of the gospel singer's "gay cure" rhetoric.  I won't link to the blog posts because I deplore the way these nameless, faceless voices arise, with no corroboration, to (purport to) tell incredibly private details about a public figure's sex life. The politics of personal destruction claims yet another victim, however deserving he might seem.

    That last phenomenon, which we witnessed most recently in the Larry Craig drama, was the subject of a column I wrote a few weeks back, about how the "sex police" on the Left feed on this sort of despicable, invasive and uneverifiable information. I never posted it in any form here on the blog, so I'll link to it for those who are interested.

    Lost in all the P.C. posturing -- and I don't use that term lightly -- is the way Obama has taken a clueless staff decision to invite McClurkin in the first place and turned it into common ground for two seemingly incompatible constituencies: gays and conservative black Christians.  In a letter released by his campaign today, the two groups put it plainly:

    In the midst of division, we hope and believe that this is a moment to bring together communities that have been divided for far too long. A few things are clear.

    First, Pastor McClurkin believes and has stated things about sexual orientation that are deeply hurtful and offensive to many Americans, most especially to gay Americans.  This cannot and should not be denied. At the same time, a great many African Americans share Pastor McClurkin’s beliefs.  This also cannot be ignored.

    Finally, we believe that the only way for these two sides to find common ground is to do so together. Not at arms length.  Not in a war of words with press and pundits.  Only together.

    When was the last time conservative black pastors joined gay religious leaders for a statement like this?  I argued earlier this week that this flap has only reaffirmed Obama's unique ability to construct the kind of big tent that could not only win elections, but effect real change. It's a point echoed in the letter:

    In gatherings of LGBT Americans and African Americans of faith, Obama has stated that all individuals should be afforded full civil rights regardless of their sexual orientation, and that homophobia must be eradicated in every corner of our nation.  If we are to end homophobia and secure full civil rights for gay Americans, then we need an advocate within the Black community like Barack Obama.

    At the same time, while Obama has said that he "strongly disagrees" with Pastor McClurkin's comments, he will not exclude from his campaign the many Americans including many in the African American community who believe the same as Pastor McClurkin.

    We believe that Barack Obama is constructing a tent big enough for LGBT Americans who know that their sexual orientation is an innate and treasured part of their being, and for African American ministers and citizens who believe that their religion prevents them from fully embracing their gay brothers and sisters.  And if we are to confront our shared challenges we have to join together, build on common ground, and engage in a civil dialogue even when we disagree.

    All I can say is amen to that.  One warning, however:  I haven't confirmed the racial identity of the letter's 16 signatories, so we'll have to wait to hear whether enough rings have been kissed for it to past blogo-muster.

    For a complete gay news summary on the Democratic presidential primary, click or bookmark: gaynewswatch.com/demprimary

    For a complete news summary of interest to black gay men and lesbians, click or bookmark: gaynewswatch.com/black



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    1. Randy on Oct 26, 2007 8:58:34 AM:

      I like that angle. Whether Obama actually planned it or not...you will have both groups at that event.

      Just like in life. If he can lead through this event it might be a small microcosm of how he could lead through the larger conflict.

      I'll never vote for Obama but I like that he doesn't buy into the lie that ex-gay somehow equals gay hatred.

    1. adamblast on Oct 26, 2007 12:19:38 PM:

      I guess I find the ex-gay movement far more dangerous and destructive than you do. It's anything but a non-issue that this Gospel Tour, designed to whip up enthusiam among a largely anti-gay audience, was no less anti-gay itself in its selection of performers.

      And I can't disagree with Pam and the others that Sidden was the choice of someone who misunderstands the nature of the rift between gays and religious blacks.

      You seem to be missing the scope of this series of mistakes. Rightly or wrongly, Obama is finished in the gay community, and perhaps as a candidate.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Oct 26, 2007 8:42:09 PM:

      Yes, adam, and as Hillary winds down her participation with the gay community and starts reaching out to evangelicals, we will see these same self-appointed agents of gay virtue who want paid staff positions under a Clinton administration again start spinning how this is a GOOD thing.

      Just like they did for Kerry and just like they did for the FIRST Clinton administration.

    1. Joseph Kowalski on Oct 26, 2007 11:44:16 PM:

      And just like gay Republicans make excuses for G.W. Bush and other anti-gay Republican politicians.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Oct 28, 2007 7:10:11 PM:

      Problem is, Joseph, that "antigay" is defined solely by political affiliation, and not by action.

      For instance, John Kerry proudly proclaimed that he had the "same position" as George Bush when it came to gay issues; however, that was deemed "pro-gay" and "gay-supportive".

    1. Joseph Kowalski on Oct 29, 2007 1:12:43 AM:

      Anti-gay is defined by the personal voting records and publicly stated positions on gay issues.

      As for John Kerry, he was referring only to gay marriage in his comparison with G.W. Bush.

      John Kerry received more gay votes because his overall position on gay rights was better than the Bush position.

    1. gleeindc on Oct 30, 2007 6:18:33 AM:

      Obama's campaign staff has turned what was a typical politician appealing to a block of voters into a bigger issue by their inept handling. Perhaps some of the outrage is on the typical politics of it: Obama's image of a new breed has been shown to have feet in the same old political clay. Beyond McClurkin's using the 3rd and final night of the tour to focus on himself, the Obama staff reportedly handed out a 3 page memo after the show stating that McClurkin was referring to change for the unhappy homosexuals and Obama disagrees with his stance (presumably supporting equality for all, no matter what emotional state your happiness meter shows).

    1. adamblast on Oct 30, 2007 1:19:39 PM:

      So, Chris, it's Tuesday morning after a notorious Sunday night. Do you still think this is all nothing?

      For myself, McClurkin is a precise example of the "loving message" that has scarred my life severely. Obama lost my support giving him a platform, just as Hillary would if she invited the leader of some ex-gay organization to emcee her next hoedown.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Oct 30, 2007 2:21:51 PM:

      "As for John Kerry, he was referring only to gay marriage in his comparison with G.W. Bush."

      Oh, I see....so it's not antigay or homophobic to oppose gay marriage.

      Especially when Democrats do it.

    1. Joseph Kowalski on Oct 31, 2007 9:42:55 PM:

      Oh, I see....so it's not antigay or homophobic to oppose gay marriage.

      That's not what I said. John Kerry's position on gay marriage is anti-gay.

      Now, once again, I said:
      "John Kerry received more gay votes because his overall position on gay rights was better than the Bush position."

      Just as overall, Democrats are less anti-gay than Republicans. This doesn't mean they are perfect. They are far from it. But they are still better than Republicans on gay issues.

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