Barack Obama | Donnie McClurkin | Election 2008 | News | South Carolina

Barack Obama Defends Gay Advocacy, Gospel Tour

Barack Obama spoke to The Advocate regarding his decision to include Rev. Donnie McClurkin on his three-day gospel tour of South Carolina, as well as his history of advocacy for the LGBT community. Here's an excerpt:

ObamaADVOCATE: I know you’re in a difficult position here trying to balance these two constituencies -- but by keeping McClurkin on the tour, didn't you essentially choose your Christian constituency over your gay constituency?

OBAMA: No, I profoundly disagree with that. This is not a situation where I have backed off my positions one iota. You’re talking to somebody who talked about gay Americans in his convention speech in 2004, who talked about them in his announcement speech for the president of the United States, who talks about gay Americans almost constantly in his stump speeches. If there’s somebody out there who’s been more consistent in including LGBT Americans in his or her vision of what America should be, then I would be interested in knowing who that person is. One of the things that always comes up in presidential campaigns is, if you’ve got multiple supporters all over the place, should the candidate then be held responsible for the every single view of every one of his supporters? And obviously that’s not possible. And if I start playing that game, then it will be very difficult for me to do what I think I can do best, which is bring the country together.

Read the full interview here.

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Comments

  1. Well-put. Hopefully the Dems and indeed all of us can leave dentity politics in the 90s. Enough.

    Posted by: MattGaymon | Oct 26, 2007 5:13:49 PM


  2. "If there’s somebody out there who’s been more consistent in including LGBT Americans in his or her vision of what America should be, then I would be interested in knowing who that person is. .... there has not been a stronger and more consistent advocate on LGBT issues than I have been." - Obama.

    Kucinich stands no chance of coming within a mile of the nomination but it is further evidence of Obama's blindness that he doesn't mention him. Edwards and Clinton touted their LGBT supporters and their pro-gay positions in press releases and on their official campaign sites long before Obama did. Edwards was the first to bitch slap General Pace for his "gays are immoral" statement. No other candidate has felt the need to affirm his/her heterosexuality as Obama did when he effectively grabbed the microphone at the Howard University debate to make clear he had gotten an AIDS test with his wife and not Sen. Biden.

    At this moment in time, he's self-deluded enough to crown himself "The Greatest [Gay] Love[r] of All?" No wonder, after a week of pissed off LGBT activists of many colors and he still doesn’t get it. Its ramifications affect gays of all races, but condemned by a multitude of his own people from the National Coalition for Black Justice, to Black lesbian writers Pam Spaulding and Jasmyne Cannick, to Black gay writers Keith Boykin and Terrance of “Republic of T”, to Black lesbian minister Irene Monroe who accuses him of “playing the race card,” he still doesn’t get it.

    "It" is that homophobia and its manifestations ARE SERIOUS! That the messages of people like Donnie McClurkin are soul-killing and worse. That to raise him up to such a prominent, public, live place in a THREE-DAY outreach to voters of color is to annoint his homo-demonology tolerable and dwarfs, makes subatomic in significance of the the names of homophobic supporters that other candidates have.

    Monroe has written about how Obama distanced himself from his own pastor, the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, when the press and public began to take note of Wright's inflammatory comments on whites and Jews but he is still willing to stand on stage shoulder-to-shoulder with McClurkin and the other two homophobic acts. One can only conclude that he believes homophobia isn't as bad as Black racism and anti-Semitism, that, as Monroe believes, he's gambling that his public association with McClurkin will hurt him less with voters than continued public association with Wright would.

    Laced with stubborness and arrogance, that smoke you smell is from Obama continuing to incinerate his credibility.

    Sad. Sad. Sad.

    Posted by: Leland Frances | Oct 26, 2007 5:47:52 PM


  3. barak, i wish i could still say, "say it ain't so." but you sealed your own doom. have someone in your feckless campaign stick a fork in you.

    Posted by: nic | Oct 26, 2007 5:56:42 PM


  4. It's not about identity politics. It's about Obama's decision to include a person on his tour who has a direct negative impact on gay people's lives. You don't have to include both sides on every issue when one side is clearly wrong. Obama is unlikely to invite open racists to participate, for instance. That said, I do respect Obama for defending his decision to The Advocate (instead of avoiding them) and for sticking by it, even if I think he was misguided.

    Posted by: Ernie | Oct 26, 2007 6:01:17 PM


  5. Thanks Leland for another great post. I had seen Pam's post on Salon earlier and it was very well researched and written.

    Posted by: davefromtampa | Oct 26, 2007 6:03:19 PM


  6. Not sad, Leland -- inevitable. He really believes he's The Greatest. But this Fool is no Cassius Clay.

    Now where did I put that Bitch-slapping machine?

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Oct 26, 2007 6:03:25 PM


  7. Since Obama's idea(vision?) of inclusion of GLBT folks is mentioning us in a few speeches and aligning himself with an ex-gay then he's more pathetic and stupid than I imagined.
    At 45 years of age I would imagine that no matter what kind of sheltered existance he experienced he must of had SOME exposure in the past 20 years with proud openly gay blacks and other constituents? But he chose McJerkin and is sticking with his bad decision and bad judgement and we'll see where it gets him?

    Posted by: SFshawn | Oct 26, 2007 6:05:06 PM


  8. Fuck, fuck, fuck he's totally turned me off to supporting anyone. I now not only hate the republicans but I hate the democrats, too. They are all a bunch of mother-fucking asshole lying bastards. Wow, at 41 I'm done with our political system.

    Posted by: Jersey | Oct 26, 2007 6:42:27 PM


  9. I'm sad to see all this uproar over Obama. Not because its not justified, but because I really think he is an incredible candidate for the Presidency and represents an opportunity for a fresh start with our government. Its unfortunate, really, that this dialogue at Towleroad can't extend beyond the gay issue to look at Obama's candidacy-at-large, and what it would do for this country. Part of what he stands for is an opportunity to create a unifying common ground, and unity is hard to create without welcoming disparate communities into the same space. He incurred a similar amount of criticism from Hillary when he said that he'd be willing to negotiate with dictators from Iran, etc. Hillary wrote this off as "naive," but I think it comes from a similar principle that true dialogue happens when everyone is at the table.

    On a much more practical level, I don't think that Obama will be able to pull off the nomination without successfully courting the black community. The inclusion of these Gospel singers is an effort to do that, not to promote any anti-gay agenda. It seems to me that he's been perfectly clear about that, and willing to talk and defend himself with The Advocate, the HRC, etc. Ultimately, I think he's a great candidate, and it is a difficult tightrope to walk into the Presidential nomination. I think he deserves a little leeway along the way.

    Posted by: Tim | Oct 26, 2007 7:19:06 PM


  10. I'm sad to see all this uproar over Obama. Not because its not justified, but because I really think he is an incredible candidate for the Presidency and represents an opportunity for a fresh start with our government. Its unfortunate, really, that this dialogue at Towleroad can't extend beyond the gay issue to look at Obama's candidacy-at-large, and what it would do for this country. Part of what he stands for is an opportunity to create a unifying common ground, and unity is hard to create without welcoming disparate communities into the same space. He incurred a similar amount of criticism from Hillary when he said that he'd be willing to negotiate with dictators from Iran, etc. Hillary wrote this off as "naive," but I think it comes from a similar principle that true dialogue happens when everyone is at the table.

    On a much more practical level, I don't think that Obama will be able to pull off the nomination without successfully courting the black community. The inclusion of these Gospel singers is an effort to do that, not to promote any anti-gay agenda. It seems to me that he's been perfectly clear about that, and willing to talk and defend himself with The Advocate, the HRC, etc. Ultimately, I think he's a great candidate, and it is a difficult tightrope to walk into the Presidential nomination. I think he deserves a little leeway along the way.

    Posted by: Tim | Oct 26, 2007 7:20:16 PM


  11. Tim,

    You just said you thought the uproar was not unjustified and then went on for a paragraph explaining why you think it IS unjustified.

    Posted by: jmg | Oct 26, 2007 7:24:56 PM


  12. HILLARY ALL THE WAY!!!!

    Posted by: Karen | Oct 26, 2007 7:44:59 PM


  13. As someone who loves Barack Obama and will vote for Barack Obama, I am troubled by the events of the last week and the seemingly amatuerish way the campaign has conducted itself. So let it be said first that it concerns me.

    I absolutely cannot and will not defend the inclusion of McGlurkin and lord knows there ae thousands of different gospel singers who don't spew such vile. That being said, Barack is the only major presidential candidate to speak out for a complete repeal of DOMA, has never spoken out in favor of "Don't ask, Don't tell" and truthfully does not tailor his politics for his audience. Doesn't that matter?

    As much as I disagree with him, part of me appreciates the honesty and respects him for not crumbling to the pressure as is so typical in politics. I still cringe when I think of what Bill Clinton did to the likes of Jocelyn Elders.

    Hillary cancelled an event at a gay bed & breakfast calling for a more traditional venue, Edwards has a tortured relationship with the community only to court us this time around and all of them bungle the question of gay marriage.

    I still think Obama's the best choice we have.... What you see is what you get...

    Posted by: John | Oct 26, 2007 7:45:50 PM


  14. Sadly the issue is mute. Anyone who thinks this racist country is going to elect a black man for president is high. I liked Obama when I heard him speak at the 2004 convention but the more I heard his views the less I liked him.

    Mostly his stand on gay marriage. His BS that as a christian he can not support it is crap. That could be said for his parents marriage. It was not long ago that interracial marriages were illegal.

    Hillary is going to win, which is once again us voting for the lesser of two evils.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Oct 26, 2007 8:13:10 PM


  15. The word is MOOT, not MUTE.

    Posted by: jmg | Oct 26, 2007 9:02:35 PM


  16. As substantive as the issue is regarding Obama's gay vs. anti-gay (not simply gay vs. Christian, that is too generalized) supporters and his support of them, I also see this as an issue that reveals his structure's naivete politically for not anticipating it/defusing it, and as one that reveals his personal weakness in how he's sought to handle it.

    Posted by: Matthew Rettenmund | Oct 26, 2007 9:05:44 PM


  17. "Ultimately, I think he's a great candidate"

    You are of course entitled to your opinion, but a man who can't grasp that the stuff done by this administration is more than adequate grounds for impeachment is not fit to be president. He does not have an acceptable grasp of the importance of the rule of law.

    Posted by: RedCedar | Oct 26, 2007 9:18:57 PM


  18. Partial agreement and a STRONG correction of the facts.

    1. I agree that there's a chance Patrick NYC is correct that too many voters are still too racist to elect any Black man in any case. HOWEVER, that does NOT make this issue of homophobes being able to selectively perceive that Obama agrees with them by virtue of his featuring McClurkin on this three day campaign tour mute. Homophobia will STILL be validated among some regardless of what happens at the polls.

    2. Sorry, John, but, with all due respect, you should be a little less partisan and a little more informed. I will still vote for him, as I've repeatedly said this week, if asked in the general election. BUT I will not tolerate the unjustified tarnishing of others just to polish Barack's apple.

    He is NOT NOT NOT NOT "the only major presidential candidate to speak out for a complete repeal of DOMA"!!! John Edwards said this during the LOGO forum:

    "I believe we desperately need to get rid of DOMA. I think we need to get rid of "don't ask, don't tell." "Don't ask, don't tell" is not just wrong now, it was wrong when it began. It's been wrong the entire time, as is true with DOMA, exactly the same thing's true with DOMA."

    While only addressing the federal benefits section of it himself in the forum, Obama has repeatedly said he supports the repeal of DOMA. However, there is some question about whether he actually understands all of it and would still say that if he did.

    Unfortunately, the questionnaire sent to candidates by HRC weeks before the forum also only addressed that section of DOMA relating to federal recognition of same gender relationships. In addition to saying he supported same, he added,

    "However, I do not support gay marriage. Marriage has religious and social connotations, and I consider marriage to be between a man and a woman. If I was President, however, I would oppose any effort to stifle a state’s ability to decide this question on its own. Whether it was a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage or a bill like the Defense of Marriage Act, I would oppose such efforts."

    The problem/confusion, of course, arises from the line, "I would oppose any effort to stifle a state’s ability to decide this question on its own." It's fair to assume he meant that in a pro-gay way, but what of those states that have already or will in the future decide to specifically BAN gay marriage equality? If he supports some invoking "state's rights" to legalize gay marriage then, in the absence of any qualifying statement to the contrary, ipso facto he supports their right to outlaw gay marriage under the same concept [the apparent position of Hillary].

    Further, he seems to share the popular misconception that Federal DOMA bans gay marriage. It never did. It only formally allows them, IF they want, to ignore Article IV, Section 1 of the US Constitution, commonly known as the Full Faith and Credit Clause which would otherwise require them to recognize WITHIN their state same-gender marriages PERFORMED in another state.

    If you or someone can document where he has made his position as it relates to all portions of DOMA clearer, please share them. Again, Edwards' position is unequivocal and should be recognized and respected as such.


    Posted by: Leland Frances | Oct 26, 2007 9:33:22 PM


  19. Thanks JMG, and sorry our posts crossed in the ether. "...that does NOT make this issue of homophobes being able to selectively perceive that Obama agrees with them by virtue of his featuring McClurkin on this three day campaign tour MOOT."

    I know the difference, really I do, but have developed this embarrassing, recurring brain misfire involving homophones.

    Posted by: Leland Frances | Oct 26, 2007 9:37:11 PM


  20. Leland... Straight from his website and he's campaigned against it. Please don't characterize me as misinformed, it seems that you are equally as misinformed. If Edwards has now said that he suports the full repeal of DOMA (not just article 3) than I applaud him, but Barack was campaigning against it when it was initially implemented in the 90s. Direct quote from Barack's LGBT position paper on his website:

    Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples
    Barack Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples equal legal rights and privileges as married couples, including the right to assist their loved ones in times of emergency as well as equal health insurance, employment benefits, and property and adoption rights. Obama also believes we need to fully repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal
    legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions.

    As for the legal arguments associated with DOMA, I think we all know they're bogus - it's an empty measure. DOMA, like border fences and racial quotas was used as a way to mobilize the right and get Dems on record.

    Posted by: John | Oct 26, 2007 10:16:43 PM


  21. I don't see what all the uproar is about, its not as if he is going to win, just like HRC isn't going to win, these people telling the polls that will vote for them are doing one thing, lying,and, since they both know they need to win one Southern state to have a chance, they are playing all thier cards, and doing what they do best, pander for votes. Its a shame people don't see this, all the canidates, Dems and Goper's are at these churches trying to get a "christan" voter.

    Posted by: Cody | Oct 26, 2007 10:31:56 PM


  22. And I'd go onto say that your criticism of Obama for making this statement:

    "If I was President, however, I would oppose any effort to stifle a state’s ability to decide this question on its own. Whether it was a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage or a bill like the Defense of Marriage Act, I would oppose such efforts."

    is nitpicky and just as partisan as you accuse me of being. At some point we have to give our candidates credit for being light years more progressive than they were even four years ago on our issues. Barack and Edwards make Howard Dean in '04 (who I love by the way) look like Guiliani.

    Posted by: John | Oct 26, 2007 10:37:37 PM


  23. OK.... Not to beat a dead horse, but this is Obama on the record in February 2004 when he was a little-known candidate in the Dem primary in Illinois. Leland, I hope you have no doubt now.... But I hate it when people question his record which UNQUESTIONABLY pro-gay from the onset of his political career.

    Obama on Marriage
    As an African-American man, a child of an interracial marriage, a committed scholar, attorney and activist who works to protect the Bill of Rights, I am sensitive to the struggle for civil rights. As a state Senator, I have taken on the issue of civil rights for the LGBT community as if they were my own struggle because I believe strongly that the infringement of rights for any one group eventually endangers the rights enjoyed under law by the entire population. Since 1996, I have been the sponsor or a chief co-sponsor of measures to expand civil liberties for the LGBT community including hate-crimes legislation, adoption rights and the extension of basic civil rights to protect LGBT persons from discrimination in housing, public accommodations, employment and credit.

    Today, I am a candidate for the U.S. Senate. Unlike any of my opponents, I have a legislative track record. No one has to guess about what I will do in Washington. My record makes it very clear. I will be an unapologetic voice for civil rights in the U.S. Senate.

    For the record, I opposed DOMA [the Defense of Marriage Act] in 1996. It should be repealed and I will vote for its repeal on the Senate floor. I will also oppose any proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gays and lesbians from marrying. This is an effort to demonize people for political advantage, and should be resisted ... .

    When Members of Congress passed DOMA, they were not interested in strengthening family values or protecting civil liberties. They were only interested in perpetuating division and affirming a wedge issue. ...

    Despite my own feelings about an abhorrent law, the realities of modern politics persist. While the repeal of DOMA is essential, the unfortunate truth is that it is unlikely with Mr. Bush in the White House and Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress. ...

    Posted by: John | Oct 26, 2007 10:52:55 PM


  24. John, I just have to say all the talk from Obama is nice but haven't we gays been lied to repetedly in the past. For crying out load our last great hope was Clinton and all these things we're fighting now, DADT and DOMA were put in place by him. I'm just saying actions speak much louder than words, to use a well worn platitude, so I'm going to pay attention to the minutiae of what they actually do and Obama has failed imo. Can we really afford more DADT and DOMA's?

    Posted by: Jersey | Oct 26, 2007 11:06:52 PM


  25. Jersey, I hear you.... And if you were to support Kucinich or Gravel I would never question you. But Hillary endorsed and openly supported both those measures you speak of and Edwards has a remarkably short track record when it comes to gay issues. True, he's terrific today, but where was he when he could make a difference as a law maker? If McCglurken is a dealbreaker for you with Obama, OK, I get it, but I would argue that all of the other candidates have more significant marks against them.

    Posted by: John | Oct 26, 2007 11:32:32 PM


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