Sen. Obama on the McClurkin debacle
Sen. Obama posted this defense of his inclusion of “ex-gay” gospel singer Donnie McClurkin at a campaign stop on The Bilerico Project. I can't cross-post the whole thing, but you can read the rest here. My thoughts are after the jump.
The question of GLBT equality was placed on center stage by the appearance of Donnie McClurkin at one of my campaign events. McClurkin is a talented performer and a beloved figure among many African Americans and Christians around the country. At the same time, he espouses beliefs about homosexuality that I completely reject. The events of the last several weeks are not the occasion that I would have chosen to discuss America’s divisions on gay rights and my own deep commitment to GLBT equality. Now that the issue is before us, however, I do not intend to run away from it. These events have provided an important opportunity for us to confront a difficult fact: There are good, decent, moral people in this country who do not yet embrace their gay brothers and sisters as full members of our shared community.
Read the rest!Hm. We've heard this argument from him before, but it skirts around the main issue: he didn't just invite Donnie to sing, he didn't just include him in the big tent, he let him emcee the event, say what he wanted to, and preach about how God can deliver homosexuals from a life of sin. He promised a gay preacher would address the crowd, but he picked a white preacher to address a crowd that was mostly caught up in the mistaken belief that same-sex love is a white thing, and the preacher spoke briefly before people had even shown up. All of this is on top of the fact that he was irritable in interviews on the matter and erased gay religious folk by accusing us of being “hermetically sealed” from “people of faith communities”.
It was a disaster of a situation when it came to Obama/LGBT relations. Not a no-starter for me, but I know I was at the mild end of the reaction spectrum when it came to this issue.
Obama keeps on saying that he's the best of all the candidates on LGBT issues, which I wish he'd stop saying. He's not. Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel are better in terms of what they said they'd support. And if you don't like your politics with a side of crazy, Bill Richardson worked pretty hard in New Mexico to get legislation passed on our behalf. Even Hillary Clinton, who supports all the same issues Obama does (although he can't avoid taking a dig at her in his McClurkin response), actually led the coalition of Democrats against the Federal Marriage Amendment. You know, showing actual leadership.
He can bring up, constantly, the fact that he mentioned us in his 2004 speech (dude, we're so past that now), but it doesn't really allay fears here. This whole move was a pander to religious fundamentalists, an epic pander, and pandering to fundamentalists is the main problem LGBT people are facing when it comes to getting policy passed. We hear it all the time from GWB, most recently when he was talking about the ENDA – he won't sign it because religious folks don't like it even though around 80% of Americans support it. Our biggest hurdle isn't getting a majority of people to say that they're OK with us, it's getting past the pandering to extremists.
And Obama just fell right into that trap. It'd be great if he had presented some type of pro-gay legislation in the Senate to weigh against this, but the fact is he just hasn't. He really isn't helping.