Barack Obama | Donnie McClurkin | Election 2008 | News

Obama Adds Openly Gay Minister to Counter McClurkin Furor


Barack Obama held a conference call with supporters today and announced that he had added Rev. Andy Sidden, a United Church of Christ pastor in Columbia, SC, to his South Carolina gospel tour as a response to the uproar caused by his decision to retain anti-gay pastor Donnie McClurkin.

The Boston Globe reports that The Politico noted that "Obama's advisers also asked supporters to contact the Human Rights Campaign, a leading national gay rights organization, and urge the group not to criticize the senator."

HRC's president, Joe Solmonese released a statement late this afternoon: "I spoke with Sen. Barack Obama today and expressed to him our community’s disappointment for his decision to continue to remain associated with Rev. McClurkin, an anti-gay preacher who states the need to 'break the curse of homosexuality.' There is no gospel in Donnie McClurkin’s message for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. That’s a message that certainly doesn’t belong on any Presidential candidate’s stage. I did thank him for announcing he would be adding an openly gay minister as part of the tour and for his willingness to call on religious leaders to open a dialogue about homophobia. We hope that Sen. Obama will move forward and facilitate face to face meetings with religious leaders, like Rev. McClurkin, and the GLBT community to confront the issue of homophobia. We also call on all of the Presidential campaigns to look within their ranks of supporters and make the same commitment to engage in a dialogue among differing views around issues of equality and fairness for our community."

So, I guess the question is, does adding a voice of tolerance negate the hater on the other end of the scale, which is what Obama's intention seems to be with this move? If a candidate's tour included Fred Phelps but he or she decided to suddenly "balance it out" at the last minute by adding Judy Shepard, what kind of message does that send?

"Ex-Gay" Reverend McClurkin Speaks Out on Obama Controversy [tr]
Barack Obama Releases Statement on Reverend McClurkin [tr]
Barack Obama to Tour with Anti-Gay Gospel Singer [tr]

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  1. Obama is really not understanding the concept of bigotry very well. Would he want David Duke on the panel and then balance it out Martin Luther King? This is not very smart. I wasn't voting for him anyway, but this really seals the deal.

    Posted by: Brad | Oct 24, 2007 7:34:49 PM

  2. Ok so is sistah Sidden gonna preach or wave from the sideline...he STILL does not get it Rev Motor Mouth who was raped by a STRAIGHT pedophile UNCLE not a GAY UNCLE gets to have a production number....SORRY Sen. B.O. that is not balance or fair --unless you are FOX NEWS.

    Posted by: MCnNYC | Oct 24, 2007 7:38:39 PM

  3. Andy, that means Mr. Obama is triangulating in a fashion that indicates his need to win trumps his need to do the right thing.

    Posted by: mike | Oct 24, 2007 7:39:08 PM

  4. Sad. Sad. Sad. Would that the gay community's response was that of George Clooney's character in "Michael Clayton"—"Do I LOOK LIKE I'm negotiating?"

    Comparisons of homophobia with racism can be dangerous but it's not unfair to say that if a White candidate found that he/she was supposed to campaign with someone who had written a book about, preached about, spoke in print and TV interviews about, and was a well-known spokespersonn for those who shared his belief that his interpretation of the Bible told him that Blacks were inferior, that the Mormons, and other denominations, were wrong to stop preaching that "the posterity of Cain (and later of Ham) were cursed with what we call Negroid racial characteristics," that slavery, as Jefferson Davis and other southerners taught, was "established by decree of Almighty God," and that candidate's response to calls to disassociate him/herself with the professional racist was simply to book someone with opposing beliefs on his campaign tour would there not be outrage.

    Would Jews accept booking a rabbi to offset a neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic Holocaust denier invited to share any of the non-Jewish candidate's stage?

    Yet again this proves that too many of those who genuinely want to be/believe themselves to be our friends do not take homophobia seriously. And it's not just Obama or Oprah but Matt Lauer and his apologetic softball interview of Sen. Craig; Jay Leno and David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Sandler and the writers for SNL and all their trivialization of anything gay and particularly making the lovers of "Brokeback Mountain" both the figurative and literal butt of jokes.

    Many don't get my raging against the flaming-fags-for-pay, the lavendar-faced minstrel acts like Carson and Ross the Intern and Alec Mapa and Willaim Sledd and Chris Crocker and Bobby Trendy but the Donnie & Barack Show with Special Guest Star the Rev. Sidden is but one of the results of sending in the clowns.

    We don't want "equal time," goddamn it—we want equal rights.

    Posted by: Leland Frances | Oct 24, 2007 7:53:42 PM

  5. "There is no gospel in Donnie McClurkin’s message," Joe Solmonese says. Is Solmonese a religious leader now? If so, what are his religious beliefs, and what doctrine is he speaking for? This whole thing is just a stunt to help Hillary. If it were serious, the first questions would have gone to McClurkin, to ask him why he felt comfortable supporting a candidate who supports equal rights for gays. Instead, it was "attack Barack" from the first moment. The ruthless Clinton machine at work. Disgusting.

    Posted by: dave | Oct 24, 2007 7:56:23 PM

  6. This has definitely left a bad taste in my mouth... Obama NEVER should have associated with someone with these views. It disheartened me at first, but in paying close attention I think its clear that neither he nor his campaign knew about McClurkin's views until after the tour was scheduled and after that he alienates gays or blacks, who are much bigger voting block in SC. And at the same time, Hillary has a lot of black anti-gay reverends that are not only prominent supporters but actually paid advisers and consultants on her staff. Harold Mayberry, an Oakland preacher-of-hate of a 2,800 congregation, whose endorsement the Clinton campaign happily touted. And Darrell Jackson, like McClurkin a SC preacher and state senator, who gets pain $10,000 per month as a political consultant. If we're going to focus on Obama I think its important we look at every politician, especially Clinton, the very clear front runner. Why is it OK for her to let these people play such a prominent campaign role for her campaign without the same level of questions or anger from the gay community? Or any attention at all really? I think given the prominence of bigoted views in the black community in SC and the importance of the black vote in the Democratic Party, EVERY presidential candidate likely has close affiliations with people who are offensive to us. I hope we're not all being played by a savvy pro-Clinton supporter who saw an opportunity to splinter the gay vote away from Obama by writing a prominent letter on the Huffington Post, knowing full well both the attention it would get AND that Hillary has the same problems, but conveniently forgot to mention them.

    Posted by: Sean | Oct 24, 2007 8:15:08 PM

  7. Ummmmm, I just have to say...

    I think y'all are having the response of white gays reacting to black culture that you don't understand.

    What we call "homophobia" is for a lot of people "just how things are"--no matter how much we dislike that. Obama's actions show that he's interested in DIALOGUE amongst groups, instead of reactionary shunning of people who don't think like us. It's simply pragmatic. If you refuse to speak to black "homophobes," then you never have the opportunity to open dialogue about accepting gay folks.

    Just my two cents.

    Posted by: Ian | Oct 24, 2007 8:24:18 PM

  8. I agree with Brad (above) this is a messy situation, and Obama is losing the plot.

    But seriously, couldn't he have found a hot looking gay priest rather than someone who looks like Ned Flanders? LOL!!

    Posted by: SeanR | Oct 24, 2007 8:29:41 PM

  9. To Ian: intolerance, bigotry, and ignorance have always been justified on the grounds of that's "just how things are." And when backed up by the ignorant and superstitious beliefs of most black homophobes and/or x-tians, there's good reason to believe that's exactly the way it's going to continue to be.

    Posted by: the queen | Oct 24, 2007 8:37:13 PM

  10. I dislike homophobia just like the next, but for some reason, this story just isn't riling me up.

    Posted by: Brandon | Oct 24, 2007 8:38:22 PM

  11. Speak Truth to Power, Leland! I could not express my thoughts better than did you, so I am simply adding an "Amen" (Be it so). Do not vote for bigots; do not settle for less than being treated as a human being with inherent worth and full civil rights. The "that's the way it is" folks have never changed society for the better.

    Posted by: rudy | Oct 24, 2007 8:41:40 PM

  12. He's trying to have it both ways, get the conservative to speak and get him that part of the vote and then also have the liberal speak and get him that part of the vote.

    Sorry, it doesn't work that way.

    Posted by: Patrick | Oct 24, 2007 8:47:15 PM

  13. Buttering both sides of the bread only makes it messier, not better. He's lost my vote as well as any of the gay friends I have talked to about this so far. Turns out he's not a leader, just a political hack like most of the other politicians.

    Posted by: Philbert | Oct 24, 2007 8:54:56 PM

  14. Unbelievable, Obama just doesn't get it - or my vote, now!

    Posted by: TR Ryan | Oct 24, 2007 9:05:37 PM

  15. Unbelievable, Obama just doesn't get it - or my vote, now!

    Posted by: TR Ryan | Oct 24, 2007 9:07:15 PM

  16. Right now Obama's lost my vote. I've been looking for a reason to either support a candidate who has a chance to win or failing that, to not support a major candidate who has a chance to win. It's too bad he's given me the latter.

    Posted by: chris | Oct 24, 2007 9:11:40 PM

  17. Hell-fucking-lo!!! "it was 'attack Barack' from the first moment. The ruthless Clinton machine at work." Jesus wept [at such willful, invincible ignorance]! Is it too much to ask that people do the most cursory research before spouting off? Or is the only way you can defend Obama is by attacking others?

    Fact: there have been both pro and anti Hillary and pro and anti Obama pieces on Huffington Post in relation to this. Fact: you can spin and spin and spin but you might as well be sit-spinning on a life-size Obama dildo to try to equate the run-of-the-mill homophobic ministers associated with Clinton or any other candidate to Barack's costar on a three-day tambourine tour whom Black lesbian minister Irene Monroe calls, "the poster boy for African-American 'ex-gay' ministries." That’s like equating children who play with matches to a convicted multiple arsonist. It's equating Little League players to Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and Barry Bonds; a singing pet parakeet to Pavarotti; Velveeta to Brie; tinfoil to platinum; solo masturbation to an orgy with Ian Somerhalder, Chris Evans, Patrick Wilson, David Beckham, Clive Owen, Matthew Fox, Josh Lucas, and Milo Ventimiglia.

    Again, I’m not a supporter of any candidate specifically but of whichever Dem gets the nomination. I’d still vote for Obama in the general election but all this regurgitated denial that reinforces turning the other cheek and continuing to fund him is pissing me off. So, I’ve changed my mind about posting all of Rev. Irene Monroe’s commentary from Bilerico, much stronger than mine, and, as a lesbian woman of color, possibly much more accurate [I never imagined Obama would send people to campaign at the "Value Voters" cross burning er convention last weekend].

    "Obama the vote-whore with ‘ex-gay’ at his side. - Rev Irene Monroe
    October 23, 2007
    It was intended to be an unprecedented example of how Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s grassroots political campaign could win over just as many religious conservatives as Republicans can. Instead, it has run afoul with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer supporters, as well as others, who bought into Obama’s rhetoric as a healer and consensus builder.

    At the Values Voter Summit in Washington last weekend, Obama’s campaign announced that they, too, could help conservative voters have a voice in the presidential campaign. They then announced they would be hosting the “Embrace the Change! Gospel Series.” It’s a gospel fest to run in three South Carolina cities - Charleston, Greenwood and Columbia – this coming weekend with gospel mega-star Pastor Donnie McClurkin as part of the concert line-up.
    It appeared to be an innocuous announcement showcasing some of gospel music’s most successful artists that would mark the final days of Obama's “40 Days of Faith and Family” campaign in South Carolina. But it’s actually outing some of the black gospel chitlin’ circuit’s closeted gays ministers and biggest opponents of queer civil rights.

    A reporter at the New York Daily News wrote me in an e-mail asking, “I’m writing a piece … about Sen. Obama’s gospel tour and the fact that one of the performers, Donnie McClurkin, has suggested that gay tendencies can be ‘cured’ or resisted. ... I’m wondering how you feel specifically about McClurkin acting as an ambassador for Obama to the African-American Southern Christian community.”

    Well, let me tell you. McClurkin is the poster boy for African-American ex-gay ministries. "There's a group that says, 'God made us this way,' but then there's another group that knows God didn't make them that way," McClurkin has told the media. “Love is pulling you one way and lust is pulling you another, and your relationship with Jesus is tearing you.”

    In the highly competitive race for black evangelical votes in South Carolina, McClurkin just might give Obama the needed edge. However, that edge will come at a cost far greater than having McClurkin at his side. It comes at revealing how Obama is not only a vote-whore, but a race-card user as well.

    The Obama/McClurkin alliance introduces Obama to McClurkin’s black and white Southern evangelical base, which thinks Obama is neither Christian nor black enough.
    And many observers are starting to realize just how much of a vote-whore Obama is. For example, MSNBC talk-show host Tucker Carlson suggested Obama's faith is "suddenly conspicuous," saying that Obama has only recently begun addressing his religious background as part of "a very calculated plan on the part of the Democratic Party to win" religious voters in the 2008 presidential race.

    And though religion came to Obama late in life, and he was reared in a non-religious household, he came to understand "the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change." And how much Obama really covets the power of the black church for his own political aggrandizement, rather than for its religion, has raised questions in the minds of many.

    When he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004, Obama campaigned at the Salem Baptist Church on Chicago’s South Side. It’s the 22,000-member black mega-church of Rev. James Meeks, who has called homosexuality an evil sickness. Outside of the hallowed walls of church the Rev. James Meeks is State Senator James Meeks.

    Obama knew to pander to his base.
    Obama will continue to speak and write about the special relationship he has with his pastor, the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, as long as it doesn't run afoul of his ambitions. When news got out about Wright’s Afrocentric theology and Sunday sermons that disparagingly speak ill of whites and Israel, Obama immediately distanced himself. Yet these same sermons were not a problem for Obama when they were spiritually nurturing him into becoming a public figure. And when news got out that Wright was to deliver the invocation when Obama formally announced his candidacy in February, Obama canceled his appearance.

    Many African Americans also suspect Obama of using the “race card” to win their votes, but his emotional detachment with issues blacks care about is a big turnoff. African-American journalist and CNN contributor Roland Martin stated, “You can't find one major moment where black voters have embraced him and showered him with love. I was highly critical of his performance at the June debate at Howard University because that was his crowd. But he failed to ignite the room. One huge Obama supporter told me that his daughter went to the event backing him, and came out loving [Hillary] Clinton.”

    According to a recent CNN poll, Clinton leads Obama among black registered Democrats, 57 percent to 33 percent. African-American women overwhelmingly support Clinton 68 percent to 25 percent, whereas African-American men favor Obama 46 percent to 42 percent for Clinton. But it is African-American women who hit the polls in much greater numbers than African-American men.

    McClurkin is not the only singer on the gospel tour who has publicly spewed vitriolic statements against LGBTQ people. But he is the biggest one Obama can use to try to win over black evangelical voters.
    So once again, Obama is proving that his campaign marketed as “The Audacity of Hope” is really based on the audacity of hypocrisy.

    Posted by: Leland Frances | Oct 24, 2007 9:15:40 PM

  18. I have said it here in the past and no one seems to get it. Obama is NOT gay friendly, nor has he ever been. He is a black politician who, like Hillary and some others play the lip sync game of spouting gay rights. But that's all it real action.
    I eliminated him from consideration long ago due to his pandering of whatever group he's standing in front of, and his lack of any worthwhile experience in national sense.
    Edwards is another phoney on gay issues....his policy of sending his wife to whisper sweet nothing's in our ears while Johnstates publically that he just *hasn't reached that road yeat* on gay marriage is nothing short of insulting. Hillary is just Bill in a pantssuit, he lied to us in 1992 and gave us DADT, DMA, and other anti-gay programs. She is a practicing Methodist, who has prayer meetings(or had) with Santorium, and Brownbeck.
    There are only 2 Democrats who fully support Gay rights up and down the line without any *if's, and's or but's* and they are Kucinich and Gravel.

    Wake up sheeple.

    Posted by: Joshua | Oct 24, 2007 9:16:52 PM

  19. Obama needs to go on record about the "ex-gay" thing now, since he is choosing to publicly associate himself with a vocal "ex-gay". Does he believe it is possible or desirable for a gay person to become an "ex-gay?" On what information does he base his answer? What would he tell a conflicted young person who came to him for advice about this ? , (e.g. his own son or daughter, hypothetically.)

    Posted by: hank | Oct 24, 2007 9:20:21 PM

  20. "I'll vote for whatever Democrat gets the nomination."

    How many times have we heard that? It's been spouted over and over in the comments on this very blog. Well, this is what you get. Enjoy. Your pussy tactics have given us a Dem party that completely takes our votes for granted.

    If Obama or Hillary gets the nom, I will be voting 3rd party.

    Posted by: Gregg | Oct 24, 2007 10:14:27 PM

  21. Oh, fuck you, Gregg, and not in the good way. You and your retarded "voting 3rd party" shit. That's what the oh so wise, oh so smart, oh so better than us all Nader numbskulls did in 2000 and that worked out SO well for the world didn't it. And now you want the same kind of blood on YOUR conscience that THEY have on theirs. Tens of thousands, TENS OF THOUSANDS of people are dead in Iraq because of 3rd party votes. Demonization of gays with impunity moved from the pulpit to the WHITE HOUSE because of 3rd party votes. The brushfires around gay marriage equality roared into an inferno consuming state constitutional freedoms and fueled by the Bush Reich brought to power by 3rd party votes. The environmental quality of life has worsened in the last six years because the #1 whore for the oil/gas/coal industry put into power by 3rd party voting has virtually refused to enforce our already too weak environmental regulations. And the Supreme Court may remain in the control of Troglodytes until long after you and your jejune fantasies are dead because of 3rd party voting.

    Need I go on? Need I reiterate that there ain't no fucking Messiah for you to wait for. There ain't no fucking Santa Claus to leave you shiny presents overnight if you just be a good little pansy. Their ain't no fucking tooth fairy to leave all your political dreams under your pillow nor Good Witch to transport you back to Munchkinland or carefree Kansas. So pull the 3rd Party All Day SUCKER that you confuse for a magic wand out of your ass and grow the fuck up. You're not changing anything for the better, nor punishing the Big Bad Democrats; you're just having a childish temper tantrum, holding your breath until you get what you want. Well, people can die that way. They certainly have in the last six years thanks to 2.78 million self-centered Me Me Me 3rd party voters. You call those of us who didn't throw out votes away "pussy." I'd prefer that any day to "unindicted accomplice in mass murder."

    Posted by: Leland Frances | Oct 24, 2007 10:38:16 PM

  22. Just my two cents - Obama has lost my vote if he doesn't remove the guy from a public role in the event. They have handled this thing horrendously and I'm insulted that they think that the addition of a gay minister will fix anything.

    Posted by: Daniel | Oct 24, 2007 11:10:24 PM

  23. He's a politician like any other. Considering the unfortunate size of the Christo-Fascist demographic, should anyone be at all surprised when a politician panders to them?

    Posted by: Gil | Oct 24, 2007 11:55:10 PM

  24. Give it a rest Leland. We voted Dem last time and the Dems just confirmed Southwick to the federal court system - the same Southwick that decided a mother should not have custody of her child because she's a lesbian.

    If they don't deserve our votes, they shouldn't get it.

    Posted by: beergoggles | Oct 24, 2007 11:59:34 PM

  25. I hope the black people can see what these Clinton loving gays are doing so we can give the full black vote to Obama and watch Clinton try to win without it.

    I say it's time for black people to start a campaign about how gays are trying to bring down Obama just to help Clinton when she is basically doing the same thing.

    Posted by: Mick | Oct 25, 2007 12:11:55 AM

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