On the Obama-Donnie McClurkin Controversy

October 23, 2007 at 10:08 am 10 comments

UPDATE: The National Black Justice Coalition sent a letter to the Obama campaign seeking a face-to-face meeting to discuss the controversy. The letter is at the bottom of this post.

Senator Barack Obama released the following statement in the wake of the firestorm erupting in the gayosphere over his planned campaign tour in South Carolina featuring anti-gay gospel singer Donnie McClurkin:

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.

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.

McClurkin is one of three gospel acts that will be with Obama on the three stop tour. Obama is in a tough battle with Hillary Clinton for the South Carolina primary in which Black voters make up a strong percentage. The tour was organized with to strengthen Obama’s position in South Carolina among Black voters. The story has now jumped from the gayosphere into the traditional media.

About homosexuality, McClurkin has said, “I don’t believe that it is the intention of God.” and that we can simply pray away the gay.

Other bloggers have pointed out that the other two acts on the tour also have problems with LGBT people:

Erica Campbell of Mary, Mary said this in an interview with Vibe Magazine (via Jasmyne Cannick):

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.

And blogger Rod McCullom wrote this about Hezekial 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.

Taking all of this into context, I tend to agree with Chris Crain that this whole thing smacks of poor advance work by Obama’s staff. I mean a quick search on Google and Wikipedia would have alerted the staff to the anti-gay comments made by the singers.

The suggestions that some bloggers have made that Obama is trying to do a George Bush by tapping into homophobic sentiment among some Black voters does not wash with the public statements that Obama has repeatedly made about his support for LGBT civil rights. He is on record as supporting virtually every issue important to LGBT people with the exception of marriage.

Obama now has a chance reaffirm his support for LGBT civil rights.

Read Obama’s platform on LGBT issues here.

UPDATE: The National Black Justice Coalition, a civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black same-gender-loving, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people, sent the following letter to the Obama campaign.

October 22, 2007

Senator Barack Obama
United State Senate
713 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-1305

Dear Senator Obama:

On behalf of the National Black Justice Coalition, I am writing to request a face-to-face meeting to discuss
an urgent matter regarding your recent decision to continue to promote the Embrace The Courage Tour
which headlines three of gospel music’s most openly homophobic artists; the most volatile of which is the
Rev. Donnie McClurkin.

While we appreciate your recent statement reassuring the public that “…Gays and lesbians are our brothers
and sisters and should be provided the respect, dignity, and rights of all other citizens,” we must also remind
you that actions speak much louder than words.

Your willingness to share a stage with Rev Donnie McClurkin is alarming and frankly deeply disappointing.

Rev McClurkin has consistently disparaged gay men and lesbians, spread half truths and unproven theories
about our lives and has shown a willingness to work with those who would use the rights of gay Americans
as a wedge issue to divide black families for their own cynical political objectives. The fact that Rev.
McClurkin uses his religious beliefs to justify bigotry and discrimination is so damaging that it cannot be
addressed with a simple media statement no matter how heartfelt or sincere.

As representatives of thousands of black LGBT families, hundreds of open and affirming congregations and
parents, friends and neighbors we feel it is imperative that we meet with you directly as soon as possible to
address the way forward to realizing a truly inclusive America.

We look forward to hearing from you.


H. Alexander Robinson
Chief Executive Officer

c: Kylar Broadus, Chairman
NBJC Board of Directors


Entry filed under: 2008 Election, Advocacy, Barack Obama, Blogs, Democrats, LGBT, Liberals, Politics, Race, Religion. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Erin Stevenson  |  October 23, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    The good Senator has learned to be as big a two-faced bigoted liar as his Republican counterparts-he will be a good fit for the job. He has yet to feel the wrath of a scorned community, but he will-it would be hard to imagine any member of the LGBTI community not being totally outraged by Obama’s actions. But he must practice being arrogant, ignorant, hypocritical, homophobic, and able to speak out of both sides of his mouth if he is ever to hold a higher office or hope to have any Republican friends and funders.

  • 2. kip  |  October 24, 2007 at 12:11 am

    This whole story came as a complete surprise to me. Obama has lost any support I might have given him.

  • 3. Andoni  |  October 24, 2007 at 8:53 am

    Now that HRC (the organization, not the candidate) has demanded that he dump McClurkin, Obama has no choice. He has to keep him. To dump McClurkin would open him up to the charge of pandering to the gay lobby. To allow a small constituency to dictate what you do, instead of relying on your stated broad principles of how you will govern, would show weakness.

    There are only two choices here. He has to keep McClurkin ….. or McClurkin has to publicly disavow his views and say he has seen the light and owes it to Barack for helping him see truth.

    Actually, to tell the gay community that I am not bowing to you on this one may enhance his image in the eyes of the total electorate….. i.e. he cannot be bullied around.

    Let’s see what happens.

  • 4. Webster  |  October 24, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    I’m simply not to going to put up with anything less than a full-distancing from McClurkin (*and* Marymary) by Obama. He’ll get no support, no vote from me unless he detaches himself completely from the gay-haters. I’m sorry, I’ve reached the place in my gay life when I will no longer give a pass to those who associate themselves with “Christian” bigots.

    I’ve had it with the “love the ‘sinner,’ hate the ‘sin'” bunch. No more. It’s over.

  • 5. come on  |  October 25, 2007 at 10:24 am

    Give me a break people. Just because someone doesn’t support the homosexual lifestyle doesnt mean they are gay-haters.

  • 6. Michael Crawford  |  October 25, 2007 at 10:28 am

    You give me a break. He had declared himself in a war with homosexuality. I consider that to be gay-hating.

  • […] is the kind outrage that white gays expressed justifiably expressed over Donnie McClurkin’s appearance at a Obama campaign event over Charles Knipp’s exploitative and offensive […]

  • 8. No Defending John McCain on Gay Issues « Bloggernista  |  March 3, 2008 at 8:00 am

    […] evangelicals when McCain spoke at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University by bringing up the Donnie McClurkin mistake that the Barack Obama campaign made. The key difference is that Obama has strongly and […]

  • 9. Joseph Page  |  August 1, 2008 at 11:27 am

    The use of the word homophobic has, to me, become so ridiculous in its proficiency that it effectively carries no meaning. Donnie McClurkin has clearly stated his position on homosexuality, that it is ungodly. I, like many other followers of Christ, agree. Because of this, I am now somehow labeled as “homophobic”; meaning that I am considered to hate homosexuals.

    This viewpoint, popular though it may be, strikes me as patently ridiculous. As a follower of Christ, I also view as ungodly fornication, lying, murder, drunkeness, adultery, stealing, and hatred. By the popular logic, that would make me a forniphobe, lyophobe, murdephobe, drunkephobe, adultephobe, stealophobr, and hatephobe among other things. I also must be considered to hate everyone that partakes in these actions. Even the most ardent opponent of “homophobia” must admit that this is somewhat ridiculous. I, like Donnie McClurkin, spend my life surrounded by those who partake regularly in a multitude of sins. I do not hate these people, neither do I fear them, ass the true meaning of a phobia suggests; but I instead love them and hope to show them the error of their ways. In this sense, me and McClurkin are most definately “at war,” not with the people who perform these sins, but with the sins themself.

  • 10. olu chi  |  September 2, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    a man laying with a man or a woman laying with a woman is an abomination before God and man. this issue is clear in the scripture in Genesis, Where God made man and woman and God told them to be fruitfull and multiply. in leviticus he said it should laying with the same sex should not be done. and in the new testament it talkes about miss placing ones sexuallity and burning for the same sex. To me the people who engage in same sex relationships are not noly Pshycologically sick but they are being held captive by he who comes to stael kill and destroy. they need pity and prayer……


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