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    October 23, 2007

    Big tents go both ways…

    Posted by: Chris

    2007_10_22_barack_obama_mcclurkin_3 OK, it's a vaguely sexual mixed metaphor, but it sums up my view about the mini-flap that blew up in Barack Obama's face over the last few days. Here's the gist of it, courtesy of the Baltimore Sun:

    A gospel concert tour organized by the Barack Obama campaign on behalf of the candidate is stirring controversy among some gay activists. The three-day tour through early-voting South Carolina starts this Friday and finishes Sunday with a concert that includes Grammy Award-winning Gospel artist Donnie McClurkin, who has provoked controversy among gay activists for his views that homosexuality can be "overcome."

    The Huffington Post's Earl Ofari Hutchinson has stoked the controversy on the web with a post that argues featuring McClurkin in a campaign-backed concert series amounts to an "ala Bush pander to anti-gay mania" that he calls "shameless and reprehensible."

    McClurkin, who is also a Pentecostal minister, has been a prominent advocate of the view that homosexuality is a lifestyle and that gays can will themselves to heterosexual behavior. McClurkin has said he struggled with homosexual "demons" for 20 years--which he attributes to molestation as a child by male relatives--but is now straight.

    Marymary Actually, the problems run a bit deeper than a single ex-gay gospel singer. Two other acts on the tour have anti-gay histories. Jasmyne Cannick has the background on Mary Mary:

    And sister’s Mary Mary made it crystal clear earlier this yeat in an interview with Vibe Magazine how they felt about gays.  When asked how they felt about homosexuality and having a gay following they likened gays to prostitutes and murderers.

    “I feel how God feels about it, um… but I still love them. You know what I mean? I don't agree with the lifestyle, but I love them. They can come to the concert; I'm going to hug them just like I hug everybody else. They have issues and need somebody to encourage them like everybody else - just like the murderer, just like the one full of pride, just like the prostitute, everybody needs God.

    Pity that.  Victor Calderone's remix of "Shackes (Praise Him)" is one of my faves.

    And Rod 2.0 offers a few kernels about another act on Obama's "gay bash tour," Hezekiah Walker:

    Hezekiah Walker is a minister of the Pentecostal faith, traditionally inhospitable to gays, and, heads a Brooklyn mega-church well-known for its anti-gay views. Walker was also the subject of an unfounded gay rumor that has become urban legend.

    Taken together, the inclusion of these three acts screams of poor advance work and a candidate not well-served by his staff. But that doesn't justify Hutchison's hysterical HuffPo reaction, pinning the decision for their inclusion on Obama himself, and alleging he did so as a strategic move to "masterfully tap into homophobic sentiment" the way George Bush did in 2000.  Even without knowing either either man, I can say with full confidence that Barack Obama is no George Bush, and Hutchison only makes himself look silly to suggest it.

    For example, Obama has issued a statement that Bush and Rove would never dream of issuing:

    "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."

    Perhaps I'm under Obama's spell, but that statement pretty much settles the matter for me.  The gay rights (oops, lgbT) movement has insisted for as long as I can remember that the Republican Party should be a "big tent" with room for gays and our allies, as well as those who are pro-choice and progressive on other social issues. Shouldn't the same be true for the Democrats, especially in the case of a presidential race.

    If Barack Obama has somehow convinced an "ex-gay" gospel singer and his anti-gay allies to campaign on his behalf, despite being the strongest candidate on gay rights with a shot at the White House, then I say more power to him. Obama has proven time and again that he is willing to stand up for gay rights to conservatives, including those he needs within the black church.

    Wayne_besen2_large_2 I've got nothing but respect for activist and author (and friend) Wayne Besen, whose group Truth Wins Out has called on Obama to drop McClurkin from the South Carolina tour:

    "We strongly urge Obama to part ways with this divisive preacher who is clearly singing a different tune than the stated message of the campaign," said Truth Wins Out's Executive Director Wayne Besen. "We can only hope that Obama is unaware of McClurkin's anti-gay history and will swiftly condemn such intolerance. Real leadership includes standing up to those who drive wedges between the American people."

    I can understand why Wayne, who has dedicated years to fighting the "ex-gay" myth, would draw the line at McClurkin.  (Notably, he makes no issue about Mary Mary or Hezekiah.)

    To me, the McClurkin gig is a sideshow to what the candidate himself actually thinks and believes. Wayne is certainly right that McClukin is "divisive" in a way that doesn't fit Obama's "new politics," but if he can unite deeply conservative gay foes like McClurkin and the other two acts behind the most pro-gay candidate we've ever seen with a serious shot at the White House, I say Amen!

    What do you think? Cast your vote in the Vizu Poll in the right column…

    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




    1. Sean on Oct 23, 2007 4:39:57 AM:

      What is it with you that you have to continually undermine gay people?

      Yes, you are under Obama's spell. He, just like Rudy Giuliani (who now supports the marriage amendment) will sell us down the river. I mentioned this awhile ago on your site. 89% of black Americans have anti-gay prejudice. Obama is trying to break the 50-50 tie he has with Hillary in the black community by appealing to their anti-gay prejudice.

      Bringing anti-gay people on tour so they can question gay people's humanity is not being fair, it's being prejudice. You don't see that happening with straight people.

      There is no way in h3ll I'm voting for him now. I predicted this would happen and it would be much worse if he got into office.

    1. Bloggernista on Oct 23, 2007 9:25:09 AM:


      Back away from the crack pipe.

      Your statement that 89% of African-Americans is a flat out lie. If you are going throw out such tripe, you need to back it up with serious data and not the usual crap about whites being somehow more enlightened about LGBT issues.

      Further more, Obama is nothing like Guiliani. Guiliani has repudiated nearly every somewhat pro-gay remark that he has ever made, while Obama continues to speak out for LGBT civil rights.

      Obama is not perfect on LGBT issues, but he damn sure better than every single one of the Republicans.

    1. Randy on Oct 23, 2007 10:31:09 AM:

      My life isn't a myth.

    1. Michael's Mom on Oct 23, 2007 12:42:11 PM:

      The inclusion of Donnie McClurkin, Mary Mary and Hezekiah Walker doesn't speak to poor advance work at all. It speaks to a candidate willing to speak to a people- black South Carolinians- with people they already love to hear. All the fuss made by John Aravosis, etc. about this concert series will drive blacks to him in record numbers. Earl Ofari Hutchison has been a Hillary shill from the beginning; when he finishes Tomming for her, he'll find someone else to pay him to drive someone else black down. That's his job.

    1. Jack Jett on Oct 23, 2007 12:47:11 PM:

      Fuck Mary Mary and her love the sinner crap. Fuck Cannick and her racist crap.
      If anything, Obama has proved himself to be a follower and not a leader.
      McClurkin is a closet case of the worst kind.
      For Chris Crain, of all people, to challenge someone regarding this issue is absurd at best.

      He sold his gay (murderers, prosititutes) vote to a group of evangelical extremist who would never vote for a democrat in the first place.

      It was a stupid mistake and idiotic to ignore.

      jack jett

    1. Robert Burnsey K on Oct 23, 2007 1:24:05 PM:

      Does anyone else find it ironic that the name of the gospel tour is "Embrace the Change"? Hmmmmm, embrace the change, with special guests who think you can will the gay away. Putting one and one together, adds up to 2...

    1. adamblast on Oct 23, 2007 2:02:48 PM:

      I'm with Wayne on this one.

      Donnie dearest, and his love-the-sinner exgays, are a far deadlier enemy than say, Fred Phelps.

      The exgay movement takes the most vulnerable among us and "cults" them up, ruining their lives and creating ugly sham marriages and whole families filled with misery. Nothing gets my blood stirring more than the pray-the-gay-away crowd.

      It's hardly a surprise that the southern black gospel music scene features numerous highly-successful acts with openly homophobic opinions and agendas. It *IS* surprising that Barak would go on the road with them, and expect a figleaf press release to settle the matter.

    1. Danielle Clarke on Oct 23, 2007 2:52:40 PM:

      Thank you for sharing the same vision i have of this silly NON ISSUE.

      I happen to be a transsexual who totally supports Barack Obama. he even invited a transsexual woman to dinner.

      This is a non issue.

      What is an issue is the nasty people who would try to distort his true vision of diversity for america.

      Where's the love and acceptence?

      PS: Remember Barack invited a transgender girl to
      dinner a few months ago on his web site.


    1. Danielle Clarke on Oct 23, 2007 2:53:52 PM:


      LOGO GAY DEBATES Who got your vote? Any surprises?


      All through the weekend since Thursday, visitors
      the site here have been asked to “Sound Off” and
      a vote for the candidate they’re most behind.

      Which could mean both who they thought performed
      during the VisibleVote08 Presidential Forum on
      Thursday night (which you can watch again tonight
      9pm ET, if you missed it), and just who they
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      And the results may surprise you… As of 1:50pm
      here are the numbers:

      Barack Obama 45%
      Dennis Kucinich 25%
      Hillary Clinton 14%
      Mike Gravel 8%
      John Edwards 5%
      Bill Richardson 3%

    1. Danielle Clarke on Oct 23, 2007 2:55:12 PM:

      REPOSTED for those seeking the FACTS!

      DeeAnna Roberts wrote:
      May I interject something here please ? After all,

      ABOUT !

      I mean, I am sitting here reading all these
      arguments and fights and I
      have been trying to tell those of you who keep
      saying this is going to
      "ruin Barack Obama with African Americans" that
      this is not as big a
      deal as you are making it.

      I am the daughter of a late hard core Pentecostal
      Preacher from the
      Church of God in Christ (COGIC) denomination. This
      denomination is
      very strict. Far more so than the Southern Baptist
      are. I was raised
      in the Church and I can tell you that the
      denomination, overall, is no
      longer as hostile as it used to be. I can speak
      for all COGICs because
      our denomination is unique in that all of our
      pastors , nationwide,
      preach the same message every Sunday. I mean,
      there's literally, a
      book of sermons. We all use the same Sunday School
      lessons from
      Children's Church to Adult Sunday School. Our
      Youth Programs are also
      the same. Everything is the same. From South
      Carolina to New York,
      it's the same. No matter where you are , you can
      walk into a COGIC
      building and get the same friggen message.

      I'm trying to tell you, that the Black Church is
      not as hostile to the
      Homosexual Community as it used to be. There's a
      reason why we are
      mostly Democrats and no, it's not just because of
      Civil Rights for
      Blacks either. I'm asking you all to please calm
      the heck down with
      this. It's not that big of an issue. Barack Obama
      has addressed this
      the same way in front of many Black American
      Churches of other
      Denominations in the past and is well received by
      them. Please ,
      relax. This is not going to destroy Obama with the
      Black Community. I
      know who McClurkin is and I love some of his
      songs. Have you listened
      to STAND ? It's really good. But, does that mean
      I'm now Anti-Gay? No.

      Some of you are acting like the Black Community is
      so stupid and short
      tempered that we don't know how to think and
      discern anything. We're
      not that stupid or narrow-minded. We understand
      that, now, Rev.
      McClurkin is a great Gospel singer and he can get
      the Church on fire
      with his songs. We also understand that, Barack
      Obama is a charismatic
      politician running for PRESIDENT, not REVEREND.We
      understand that
      McClurkin was raped as a young boy by an older
      male member of his own
      family and has struggled to make sense of that. He
      has made comments
      about Homosexuality that some in the Church
      understands. He has also
      retracted many of those statements because he was
      convicted in his
      spirit about it.We also understand that.

      We also fully understand Barack Obamas position on
      Gay Rights and many
      of us agree with him. McClurkin singing at a fund
      raising Gospel
      Concert has absolutely no effect whatsoever to the
      majority of us at
      all. This is not as big an issue as many are
      making it. Supporters of
      rival campaigns are playing around with both
      Blacks and the Gay
      Community trying to create MESS. That's who's
      fueling this. Not the
      Gay Community. Not the Black Community. I am
      seeing Diaries and
      comments on Daily Kos right now from , Bi-Sexuals,
      Blacks and
      Homosexuals who are saying this is not an issue.
      But everyone else
      wants to sit up here and tell us all how we feel.
      A game is being
      played by the opposition , folks.

      Don't play with them.

    1. Danielle Clarke on Oct 23, 2007 2:57:02 PM:

      Please know that Donnie McClurkin has also performed
      for the Clintons as well…and Oprah…and so many more
      people who are not anti-gay. =


    1. Danielle Clarke on Oct 23, 2007 3:31:19 PM:

      Speaking of the CLINTON BUSH DIE-NASTY = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5c0eLVYbnI4

    1. Jack Jett on Oct 23, 2007 4:29:57 PM:

      Oh Dannielle..

      I am very familiar with the COGIC church. Here in Dallas, the editor of our "liberal" paper was a lesbian but prayed her muff diving ways away through "prayer" at the COGIC. Our local COGIC pastor gives enemas to his lady congregates, prior to spanking them.
      They strongly teach that homosexuality is a sin, just as being a Catholic and a Jew.

      Honestly, I don't give a shit that this hommophobe has been on Oprah. So has that religious bitch who shot her husband in the back. Being on Oprah doesn't make one perfect.

      Obama fucked up, the more people try to cover it up or make excuses for the man, the more attention you bring to it.

      I was a huge fan, from his first speech. I will also admit, I find him very attractive. He had it all going on as far as I am concerned until he decided to get in bed with Mary Mary and that closet case Donnie.

      Jack Jett

    1. Danielle Clarke on Oct 23, 2007 4:44:04 PM:

      Piggybacking on that video, watch this one, drawing Bobby Kennedy/Obama comparisons.


    1. Danielle Clarke on Oct 23, 2007 4:46:13 PM:

      Jack jett you never supported Barack so stop pretending you did.

      Its people like you who play both sides that gives honest bloggers as myself a bad name.

    1. Danielle Clarke on Oct 23, 2007 6:13:36 PM:

      Donnie McClurkin not a gay basher. His views on homosexuality are the same as those of every Pentecostal Christian, which should not be confused with McClurkin's PERSONAL journey with his sexuality. But he has spoken out profoundly about the need for compassion towards gay people, haven been gay himself. On TBN television, he said If Jesus were alive today, he will still be loving homosexuals and heterosexuals and treating them equally. That's hardly an anti-gay statement.

      A LGBT activist has defended Barack and applauded the statement he put out yesterday, reiterating his stance on LGBT issues. But a few of our gay brothers and sisters (presumably at Clinton's requests) are putting Barack's nomination on the line by pushing this issue.

    1. on Oct 23, 2007 7:15:30 PM:

      Using the "Big Tent" euphemism on GLBT people is an unfair criticism. Would Jewish people gladly accept Nazi's in their political party of choice or would African-American people gladly accept racists in their political party of choice? Why do you feel GLBT people must accept homophobic people in their political party of choice?

      How would Barack Obama feel if one of the other Democratic or Republican candidates held a fund raiser with people who hold openly racist views?

      My guess is he would be denouncing that candidate every chance he got.

      I like many of Barack Obama's positions, but he's made a big mistake here. If he is sincere in his belief of GLBT equality, he will distance himself from these homophobic performers.

    1. Joseph Kowalski on Oct 23, 2007 7:17:52 PM:

      Using the "Big Tent" euphemism on GLBT people is an unfair criticism. Would Jewish people gladly accept Nazi's in their political party of choice or would African-American people gladly accept racists in their political party of choice? Why do you feel GLBT people must accept homophobic people in their political party of choice?

      How would Barack Obama feel if one of the other Democratic or Republican candidates held a fund raiser with people who hold openly racist views?

      My guess is he would be denouncing that candidate every chance he got.

      I like many of Barack Obama's positions, but he's made a big mistake here. If he is sincere in his belief of GLBT equality, he will distance himself from these homophobic performers.

    1. Andoni on Oct 23, 2007 8:33:54 PM:

      I am an Obama supporter who has given him significant money and I am not bent out of shape over this. I've been around long enough to know that a candidate whose actions reflect only with what the gay community dictates, no more and no less, will never get elected president. We cannot put a candidate in a straight jacket over our issues alone. We cannot forbid a candidate enough lattitude to put together a plan to gain more votes so he can win. I know where Barack stands on our issues and I am not afraid that this represents a repudiation of what he promises to do if elected. Nor do I fear that McClurkin's views will rub off on Barack. Nor do I believe that all the people McClurkin attracks to the Obama camp will do so because they are anti-gay.

      I think Barack's statement was perfect and is certainly enough for me.

      The people who are so bent out of shape must think the whole world revolves around gay issues, their own views, and their positions. The world doesn't and if they take down Barack over this they are doing a big disservice to the community. Of the top 3 candidates, he undoubtedly has the best positions on our issues. And to give a presidential candidate an ultimatum or a warning is quite foolish. Having been on the Clinton team in 92 and 96, this brouhaha smells like something very much out of the Clinton camp and I would not be surprised to learn that they are behind a lot of this to diminish Obama's support among gays.

      Don't allow yourselves to be emotionally stampeded. You're a lot smarter than that.

    1. Maureen on Oct 23, 2007 9:39:29 PM:

      How would Barack Obama feel if one of the other Democratic or Republican candidates held a fund raiser with people who hold openly racist views?

      That pretty much says it for me. I'd like to think we could all worship together, no matter what our differences are, but maybe not.

      I'm surprised that they want to raise money for him, if they are against gay rights. But I doubt very much that he is slyly courting the anti-gay voter block.

    1. Stephanie on Oct 24, 2007 1:11:44 AM:

      Exactly, Maureen. And, would he vote for a candidate who held a fundraiser featuring openly racist performers?

      It's a sad misstep. Fatal? Time will tell.

    1. Citizen Crain on Oct 24, 2007 1:41:00 AM:

      Maureen and Stephanie: The racism comparison is apples and oranges. The debate over gay rights and the nature of homosexuality, including the role religion plays in response to same-sex desires, is in a completely different place today than the debate over race.

      We don't do ourselves any favors by demanding that candidates for national office pretend with us that those who oppose gay rights should be excluded from the mainstream of society the way we do racists. That's not the world today, and it's unfair and unrealistic to expect Barack Obama to pretend that it is.

    1. Christao on Oct 24, 2007 3:42:00 AM:

      Chris - a very interesting post and I agree with you that much ado is being made out of very little.

      With the divisiveness in US politics, I'm very supportive of a candidate who is able to bring people with different views together.

      We're much more likely to make progress through engaging those who have different views rather than running to the other side of the playground, pouting because they said mean things about us.

      I'd rather have the ex-gay people sitting in the same tent as me, supporting the same candidate, where we can talk, learn more about each other, and hopefully broaden some minds, than have them go support a Republican candidate where the chance of making meaningful change is even less.

    1. Deanna on Oct 24, 2007 7:57:59 AM:

      Gospel music superstar Donnie McClurkin says he was surprised to wake up Tuesday morning to a media firestorm.

      This was never about the possibility or genuiness of a gay to straight conversion. This was about a good man who has been called Anti-Gay, Gay-Basher, Homophobe, etc, a human rights lawyer who has done nothing but fight for the rights of minorities and a campaign that has done nothing but present the best platform for LGBT.

      "I don't believe that even from a religious point of view that Jesus ever discriminated toward anyone, nor do I. Most of the things that were said were totally out of context and then other things weren't true."
      "There's never been a statement made by me about curing homosexuality. People are using that in order to incite anger and to twist my whole platform on it. There's no crusade for curing it or to convert everyone. This is just for those who come to me and ask for change."
      "My only concern is to be in place with Sen. Obama in unity and bring all the factors together for the sake of change. That's my only thing. Of course some agents have twisted it as though he [Obama] were embracing a racist or a Nazi, and that is anything but true."
      "I believe in his stance. I believe in his platform and his agenda. So when they asked me if I would be a part of it, there was no problem. We don't have to agree on everything, but we do have to agree on the main thing: that there needs to be change and I believe he is the candidate to bring it."
      Someone suggested that the LGBT supporters shoulkd hold a fundraiser to make upo for what they put the campaign through.

    1. Sean on Oct 24, 2007 7:58:36 AM:

      I'm not surprised by the apologist attitude among black gays and some other gays. You are always willing to be treated like shit and they know it and will continue to treat you like shit. I've called out all anti-gay people no matter their race. This is a gay issue and no one is going to question my humanity or that of any gay person without being confronted.

      Here are the numbers:

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