Barack Obama Calls for LGBT Equality

November 12, 2007 at 1:00 pm 8 comments

Senator Barack Obama released this commentary explaining the Donnie McClurkin controversy and laying out his support for LGBT civil rights.

A Call for Full Equality

Over the last several weeks, 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.

We will not secure full equality for all GLBT Americans until we learn how to address that deep disagreement and move beyond it. To achieve that goal, we must state our beliefs boldly, bring the message of equality to audiences that have not yet accepted it, and listen to what those audiences have to say in return.

For my entire career in public life, I have brought the message of GLBT equality to skeptical audiences as well as friendly ones. No other leading candidate in the race for the Presidency has demonstrated the same commitment to the principle of full equality. I support the full and unqualified repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. While some say we should repeal only part of the law, I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether. Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples. I will also fight to repeal the U.S. military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, a law that should never have been passed, and my Defense Department will work with top military leaders to implement that repeal.

As President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws. I personally believe that civil unions represent the best way to secure that equal treatment. But I also believe that the federal government should not stand in the way of states that want to decide on their own how best to pursue equality for gay and lesbian couples – whether that means a domestic partnership, a civil union, or a civil marriage. I will also place the weight of my administration behind the enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act to outlaw hate crimes and a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act to outlaw workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. I have supported fully inclusive protections since my days in the Illinois legislature, when I sponsored a bill to outlaw workplace discrimination that expressly included both sexual orientation and gender identity.

That is where I stand on the major issues of the day. But having the right positions on the issues is only half the battle. The other half is to win broad support for those positions. And winning broad support will require stepping outside our comfort zone. If we want to repeal DOMA, repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and implement fully inclusive laws outlawing hate crimes and discrimination in the workplace, we need to bring the message of GLBT equality to people who are not yet convinced.

That’s why I brought this message of inclusiveness to all of America in my keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention. I reiterated that message in the speech announcing my candidacy for President. Since beginning my campaign, I have been talking about GLBT equality on the stump, from rural farmers to Southern preachers. Just as important, I have been listening to what all Americans have to say in return. I will never compromise on my commitment to equal rights for all GLBT Americans. But neither will I close my ears to the voices of those who still need to be convinced. That is the work that we need to do if we are going to move forward together. It is difficult. It is challenging. And it is necessary.

The American people have been poorly served by two terms of an administration that seeks to manipulate us through fear: fear over national security, fear over immigrants and fear over gay and lesbian couples in loving relationships. Americans are yearning for leadership that will put an end to the fear mongering and instead begin empowering us once again to reach for the America we know is possible. I believe that we can achieve the goal of full equality for the millions of GLBT people in this country. To do that, we need leadership that appeals to the best parts of the human spirit, rather than the worst. Together, we will achieve real equality for all Americans, gay and straight alike.

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Stephen Clark  |  November 12, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    “To achieve that goal, we must state our beliefs boldly, bring the message of equality to audiences that have not yet accepted it, and listen to what those audiences have to say in return.”

    Nice rhetoric. What Obama did was have the “message of equality” presented quickly, meekly, and ambiguously in a half-empty venue by a white minister unknown to the crowd. It certainly takes audacity to call that stating one’s beliefs “boldly.”

    Then, Obama turned over the microphone to McClurking to spew his bigotry unchallenged to a full house for the climactic half hour of the event, amid whoops and hollers of approval from the crowd. i guess that was the “listening” part.

    None of these press releases is going to accomplish anything for Obama until his campaign stops pretending that the McClurkin fiasco was some kind of model for constructive dialogue.

  • 2. Michael Crawford  |  November 13, 2007 at 7:21 am

    Stephen, you are making it seem as though Barack was at the event which he wasn’t. McClurkin did not personally turn over the mic to McClurkin. McClurkin showed himself to be a major jack ass, but that does not negate Barack’s support for LGBT civil rights.

    I wish the McClurkin fiasco had not happened, but it did. It was the result of a poor vetting process by staff and the aftermath was bungled.

    Other than Bill Richardson, Barack is the only presidential candidate to vote for non-discrimination legislation that includes both sexual orientation and gender identity which he did as a state legislator in Illinois. He is also unafraid to talk about gay issues in non-gay specific environments.

    There is far more to Barack than the McClurkin incident and we should not let or anger about that blind us to his strongly stated support for LGBT civil rights.

  • 3. Obama Address Gay Rights on Meet the Press « Bloggernista  |  November 13, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    […] Barack Obama Calls for LGBT Equality Obama Talks Gay Rights with MTV Donnie McClurkin: Drama […]

  • 4. Stephen Clark  |  November 13, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    Michael, if Obama delivered the same mea culpa that you just did and called the McClurkin thing a fiasco and said he wished it had never happened and apologized for that outrageous press release about “unhappy gays,” things would be very different. Instead, all we get is “McClurkin isn’t bad because he only wants unhappy gays to choose to be straight” and condescending lectures about how it is our obligation to listen to and respect McClurkin. A truly bold supporter of lesbian and gay equality wouldn’t be so cowardly, evasive, and condescending about the McClurkin fiasco. Really, a respectful statement of regret about the whole fiasco would be all it would take, yet that remains the one thing Obama stubbornly will not provide.

  • 5. VCubed  |  November 14, 2007 at 1:30 am

    McClurckin does not rule my days and nights, as he seems to with some of our community. I much prefer to work for the candidate who can and will win the Democratic nomination because he has walked the walk. I can’t conceive of ignoring Obama’s fantastic GLBT platform to continue pulling my hair over McC.

    I’ve read, seen and heard more from Obama than any other candidate on GLBT rights, including legislation and his inclusion of the need for equality for our communities in all venues, to know Barack Obama is a true ally. No doubt his event planners were truly pitiful in their choice, but no way is that going to make me ignore over a decade of true representation. I’ve seen such misery over GLBT adoptions, I’ve been through such misery as the partner of a member not only of our GLBT community, but of Clinton’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell military, that I’m for Obama, no apologies, no excuses.

  • 6. Danielle Clarke  |  November 14, 2007 at 7:48 am

    Obama in 2004 on anti-gay supporters

    His message is the same as his campaign’s recent
    *Obama Seeks U.S. Senate seat*
    *by TRACY BAIM
    * *2004-02-04*

    WCT: One of the things that supporters of the state
    gay-rights bill have
    been saying is that some of the supporters of
    certain Senate candidates,
    yourself included, were not coming out full force
    for the Senate bill this
    time. Do you feel there’s a litmus test for people
    whose supporters aren’t
    fully 100%?

    Obama: You raise an important point. Although your
    initial question was
    whether there’s been a backlash against me, I see
    none of that within the
    Democratic Party. I think there are still
    geographical differences in terms
    of attitude toward gay and lesbian issues. I think
    downstate, there is a
    difference. On the Southwest Side, the Northwest
    Side of Chicago, where the
    Catholic Church is still a significant institution,
    there is a difference.
    And, to a certain extent, within the
    African-American community, because of
    the strong affiliation with the church, there is
    still some resistance.

    My attitude is that candidates for office, persons
    in elected office, are
    ultimately responsible for what they say and what
    they do. I think the
    question is, are they forceful, clear, strong
    advocates on behalf of these
    issues. Are they doing everything that they can to
    lobby on behalf of these
    issues. They’re not always going to be successful,
    even within the
    Democratic Party. And there are going to be people
    in this U.S. Senate race
    who support me who may not feel the same way I do on
    gay and lesbian issues.
    That’s going to be true of the other candidates as
    well. The important thing
    is, what do people see me saying publicly, how am I
    acting publicly, how am
    I voting publicly. Because what I do think is
    unacceptable is saying one
    thing in one forum, and saying something else in
    another. What you do have
    to expect is consistency, and not playing to a
    particular audience.

    And there is lots more about Baracks positive actions in the past at that site.

  • 7. Warren Redman-Gress  |  November 14, 2007 at 10:17 am

    Let’s not simply lay blame on Obama’s staff for not doing their job vetting the performers before the McClurkin fiasco, or bungling the response. On the Thursday before the event, it was made very clear to the South Carolina LGBT leadership in a conference call with Steve Hildebrand, the Obama campaign’s National Deputy Campaign Manager and Joshua Dubois, the campaign’s National Faith Outreach Coordinator that when informed of our objections to McClurkin, Barack and Michelle Obama made a careful, thoughtful decision to keep McClurkin in the lineup.
    We are not talking about a simple difference in religious belief or practice between two communities under the same Obama tent. McClurkin espouses beliefs and practices which are dangerous to families and youth throughout our nation. And Barack and Michelle Obama gave McClurkin their “bully pulpit” to spread his misinformation. For that, they ought to apologize.

  • 8. Obama: Gay Rights Not “Special Rights” « Bloggernista  |  January 3, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    […] Obama Addresses Gay Rights on Meet the Press Barack Obama Calls for LGBT Equality Obama Talks Gay Rights with […]


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