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Barack Obama Tells Crowd that Homophobia is Not Christian

Ben Smith at Politico reports on a question and answer session at a Barack Obama rally in Beaumont, Texas yesterday:

Obama_2"An interesting moment came when he was asked a question about LGBT rights and delivered an answer that seemed to suit the questioner, listing the various attributes — race, gender, etc. — that shouldn't trigger discrimination, to successive cheers. When he came to saying that gays and lesbians deserve equality, though, the crowd fell silent. So he took a different tack: 'Now I’m a Christian, and I praise Jesus every Sunday,' he said, to a sudden wave of noisy applause and cheers. 'I hear people saying things that I don’t think are very Christian with respect to people who are gay and lesbian,' he said, and the crowd seemed to come along with him this time."

Adds Smith: "The moment reminded me of a conversation I had recently with a senior figure in the national gay rights movement, who noted that Obama's deference to some black Christian discomfort with homosexuality — his refusal to dump the "ex-gay" gospel singer Donnie McClurkin from a tour — angered some gays and lesbians; but conversely, that his ability to sell gay rights in the black church is unique and appealing."

UPDATE — The video:

Selling Gay Rights [politico]

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  1. Speaking as a gay black American I can testify to the fact that blacks appear more homophobic than other groups because of the bully pulpit of the church. Every Sunday these clowns tell their faithful that the Big Invisible Bi-Polar Daddy in the Sky hates all gays.

    Except of course the invariably gay choir director, but he's spoken of in hushed and "reverent" tones.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Feb 29, 2008 1:55:05 PM

  2. to me, actions speak louder than words. Who cares what he said, or where he said it. he has plenty of security around him, so he is protected. I want to see what he will do, we all know that candidates will say things like this, but what does it really mean. Do something about it, sign the hate crimes gay marriage, make certain that all programs that exclude gays like abstinence only programs are abolished and important information is restored on the CDC website. Proclaim June as "gay pride month" at a national level.
    NO, it isn't all about gays, but we have been pulled into the political arena and helped GWB get elected, so let's fire up our base!!

    Posted by: paul | Feb 29, 2008 2:03:42 PM

  3. as a black, gay person from texas, i can tell you that this was beyond a brave move on behalf of the senator. homophobia is something that is considered "the norm" in the large majority of this state (austin and various gayborhoods excluded), especially with in the black community. this is a place where a preach can get "amens" for saying "i hate gay people" and not come under any kind of fire.
    that said, i am also a member of the united church of christ, and i can assure you that even though it totes the name christian, it cannot be further from the homophobic "christian leaders" that we are used to seeing. it is by far one of the most open, affirming, and progressive denominations withing the sphere of christianity. obama's declaration of his faith should not, by any means, strike fear or doubt in your minds, but is assurance that he holds an obligation to promote justice and equality.

    Posted by: rae | Feb 29, 2008 2:07:36 PM

  4. Banne,

    You really should apply for a writing position with the Clinton campaign. You'd be a natural since you already reside in the same alternate universe they're all living in:

    Posted by: 24play | Feb 29, 2008 2:11:04 PM

  5. A SINCERE BRAVO FOR WHAT OBAMA SAID. But as we have repeatedly seen accounts of events rephrased in such a way that makes them appear far more significant than they really were, I think it’s fair to ask what the person who asked the question actually said. DID he/she use the term "LGBT rights"?[Googling, so far, I can only find Politico’s account echoed again and again—without quoting the question itself.]

    Perfect example, this thread’s first poster, Michael Crawford, while FAILING TO DISCLOSE THAT HE’S AN OFFICIAL ADVISOR to the Obama campaign, claims, as he has countless times, that Obama talks “about his support for GLBT civil rights in front of more than GLBT specific audiences.” At, where he is an editor, he claimed this morning that, "Barack has spoken passionately about his support for GLBT civil rights many times in front of non-GLBT audiences." Which I have asked him to prove; to document what he's said in front of "non-GLBT audiences" about CIVIL UNIONS and GAY ADOPTION and JOB PROTECTION and REPEALING DOMA AND DADT. I want to see the "many times" he has EVEN USED the term "GLBT CIVIL RIGHTS."

    And if anyone else equates just mentioning having us as "friends," or not "blaming us" for whatever, or even asking people not to “scorn” us but to “embrace” us—however good those phrases are—with “talking about GLBT RIGHTS” then you either don’t understand English or you like having Obama’s dick up your ass.

    As for Brother Zeke’s claim that Obama "is a reflection of" their shared denomination, how can that be when the hierarchy of the wonderful United Church of Christ supports gay marriage equality while Obama rejects it? His "brand of Christianity" may be better than that of his close personal friend the Rev. James Meeks who, as a state senator, voted against gay rights in Illinois and ran for governor on an antigay platform and blames "Hollywood Jews for bringing us 'Brokeback Mountain'" and the star of his campaign gospel show Donnie McClurkin who preaches that gays are out to kill America's children but it is still far from entirely CHRISTlike.

    As for Zeke's challenge, “show me one time where Hillary has spoken out in favor of gay rights before ANY group that wasn't primarily gay”—

    “On November 10, in speaking to more than 9,000 people gathered for an important Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Iowa, Clinton said that Democrats "believe in labor rights, women's rights, gay rights, and civil rights." -

    Asked and answered.

    Further, as “symbolic speech” is even a legally recognized concept, how much MORE could Sen. Clinton demonstrate PUBLICLY her support for LGBT rights for MILLIONS of nongays to see via newspaper and TV coverage than when she marched in New York’s Gay Pride Parade WHEN SHE WAS FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES? And several times since as Senator? I can’t say that Obama has never done the same in Chicago, but I doubt it. What IS known is that Obama REFUSED to even be photographed with SF Mayor Gavin Newsom shortly after Newsom became world famous for ordering The City to MARRY gay couples in 2004. And that was even after Newsom had RAISED MONEY for Obama’s Senate campaign. How do you say, "Actions speak louder than words."

    More VERY LOUD action: Relying only on his paid blank slate ads on which one could project whatever they want to believe, this week Obama REFUSED to give interviews to gay newspapers in Texas and Ohio, as he has refused with LOGO and the “Washington Blade,” but Sen. Clinton was interviewed:

    "[T]he biggest problem is the federal benefits, and I want to change the law," Clinton told reporter Eric Resnick, adding that the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligation Act is the first thing that needs to be passed. The legislation, which Clinton co-sponsored, would provide benefits to federal employees on par with those offered to married, opposite-sex couples. ... "No community has been made more invisible than the LGBT community by this administration, and I want to change that," Clinton noted when talking about the largely silent stance of the Bush administration when it comes to gay issues. "I am committed to the fair and equal treatment of LGBT Americans." -

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Feb 29, 2008 2:12:28 PM

  6. Seriously I am beginning to think that Obama would personally have to deliver a blow-job to Bill Clinton on national television while signing a pledge to support gay marriage in his own blood, to MAYBE begin to convince some of you Hillary supporters that he is pro-gay. No prospective president has stuck their neck so far out for us as Barack is doing now, now when he doesn't even have to!

    Posted by: AdamN | Feb 29, 2008 2:14:33 PM

  7. Videos of the appearance are finally up. The link to the relevant section is below. While it does not include the question, the source says it was, “What are your thoughts about human rights, specifically the LGBT community.” And, watching his answer, I give him credit for sounding better than the printed quotes. At least, unlike McCain, he doesn’t have to have “LGBT” defined for him, in fact, HE defines it for the audience. LOL. If he had said all of these things in one place before, rather than bits and pieces of them spread across various places, AND identified by name the examples of “discrimination” [again, relationship rights, gays in the military, job discrimination] I would think higher of him. It wouldn’t explain his lies about his role in the timeline of the gay rights bill in Illinois, nor make up for his frequent, “let ME explain ‘full equality’ to YOU,” but I give him his due here. Watch for yourselves at:

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Feb 29, 2008 2:28:17 PM

  8. As another black gay person, and one who attended a black southern Baptist Church every Sunday for at least the first 17 years of his life, I can say I never once heard a sermon demonizing gays. Hell, I never even heard a sermon with "gays" as even a minor subject. And there were obvious gays (and a few lesbians) throughout my church. As a child, it never even occurred to me that my church would be hostile to gays. I only discovered Baptists were anti-gay when I became more aware of my southern surroundings. And I think Sean may be on to something. The idea that blacks are homophobic above all others has to be borne out of some kind of prejudice.

    And David, you say that the "bully pulpit" of the black church is what gives the appearance of rabid homophobia, but what of the white evangelical churches that hold marches and rallies on courthouse steps and have "bus-ins" for their homophobia. Yet somehow, that does not extend to the white community at large as it does with the black community. There is definitely something else behind the "blacks as supreme homophobes" idea.

    And for what it's worth, I have only met a couple black gays who are estranged from their families. Meanwhile, nearly half of my good white friends no longer have relationships with their families. Personally, my relationship with my parents has never been better. Anecdotal, but worth noting.

    Posted by: Spencer | Feb 29, 2008 2:40:46 PM

  9. Is this the Beaumont,Texas that is the seat of Jefferson County? Gore won Jefferson County in 2000 and Kerry carried it in 2004. It doesn't sound that "red" to me.

    Posted by: travshad | Feb 29, 2008 3:35:34 PM

  10. MB, thanks for posting that video. You're right, it was way better than the transcript would have lead us to believe. I would add that the audience didn't exactly respond in the way that the posting claimed. They were quite supportive and vocally so.

    I appreciate your finding the one instance that Hillary said the words gay rights. It wasn't exactly a glowing endorsement but it did meet the minimum standards of my challenge.

    I appreciate the kind a respectful response as well.

    I'm noticing a bit of a chink in that armor bubba. Watch out, we Obamaheads are gonna bring you over to the other side!


    Posted by: Zeke | Feb 29, 2008 3:36:21 PM

  11. Gays and lesbians who don't support Obama because he's a "Christian" = Christians who don't support McCain because he's a "liberal" (i.e. not getting their cake, nor eating it).

    Posted by: Jeff | Feb 29, 2008 3:53:23 PM

  12. Okay, this has helped me to decide. I am supporting Obama for President.

    Posted by: angrycitizen | Feb 29, 2008 4:05:18 PM

  13. Now, if Obama would only tell his strongest backers and close friends to heed his words.
    For those of you enthralled that he will say things people don't want to hear, wake up....if that was true he would be speaking the truth about the economy, taxes, eavesdropping, the auto industry, the steel industry and on and on. Believe it or not, there are issues out there that are actually more important than a politician speaking to rednecks about gays. While I agree those people need to be slapped into the 21st century, thats not what I want to hear.

    Flame away.

    Posted by: Joshua | Feb 29, 2008 5:29:32 PM

  14. Sorry but I have never, EVER trusted Hillary Clinton from day one. She has never, EVER spoke to a hostile audience about gay rights. I have no doubt that she would throw the LBGT community under the bus like her husband did in the 90's without a seconds thought. She will eventually lose the nomination and we need to push hard for a presidential candidate that actually has the balls to make gay rights an issue.

    The Christian faith has been hijacked by the same kind of fundamentalism that fuels Islamic extremists into bombing innocent people. The word of God has been perverted and the Bible is being used to bludgeon anyone with a differing perspective into submission. The Right Wing are the modern day Pharisees and Jesus himself would be demonized by Fred Phelps and Bill O'Reilly. The U.S. will be in a moral fight for it's life in the coming years.

    I will be voting come November. I will be voting for Obama because I believe, at this time, he's our best hope of breaking the grip of religious zealotry that's choking the life from our democratic republic.

    Posted by: JerzeeMike | Feb 29, 2008 6:10:21 PM

  15. The idea that blacks are more homophobic comes about because a disproportionate amount of homeless gay kids are black.

    If it's not homophobia of their parents turning these kids out of their homes, it must obviously be that wonderful xtian tendency to love the sinner.

    Posted by: beergoggles | Feb 29, 2008 6:49:51 PM

  16. ^Have any stats to back that up, because from what I see, most homeless gay teens are not black...

    Posted by: On | Feb 29, 2008 7:02:28 PM

  17. Okay, let's not forget that prior to the Clinton campaign's injection of race into the nomination process, Sen. Clinton had strong lead over Obama in the African American community.

    It gets very old reading these comments that AFrican Americans only support African American candidates. That's bullshit. Ken Blackwell in Ohio, Lynn Swann in Pennsylvania, and Michael Steele in Maryland all got their butts kicked by African Americans who voted for their white competitors.

    Posted by: noah | Feb 29, 2008 7:40:25 PM

  18. B HUSSEIN Obama knows nothing of Christianity.
    He is a muslim.

    Posted by: sandy | Feb 29, 2008 8:00:34 PM

  19. B HUSSEIN Obama knows nothing of Christianity.
    He is a muslim.

    Posted by: sandy | Feb 29, 2008 8:01:21 PM

  20. Race was first injected into this campaign by Barack Obama. Don't believe me, try the comments of BLACK lesbian minister Irene Monroe all the way back in October.

    "In the highly competitive race for black evangelical votes in South Carolina, [Donnie] 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."


    But it was after Obama's growing ego got a reality check in New Hampshire when Sen. Clinton rose from the political grave pollsters and pundits had put her in and beat him, that he let the dogs out, and the Swift Boat Campaign of 2008 truly left the dock—this time suggesting than Sen. Clinton was a racist.

    First up at the wheel—Obama national cochair Jesse Jackson, Jr., who in an desperate and incoherent harangue on MSNBC about "a melting" the very MORNING AFTER the NH primary [BEFORE Bill Clinton's misrepresented remarks in SC] said about her misty eyes [JJ calls them "tears"] in New Hampshire:

    "those tears also have to be analyzed. They have to be looked at very, very carefully in light of Katrina, in light of other things that Mrs. Clinton did not cry for, particularly as we head to South Carolina where 45% of African-Americans who participate in the Democratic contest, and they see real hope in Barack Obama.

    We saw something very clever in the last week of this campaign coming out of Iowa, going into New Hampshire, we saw a sensitivity factor. Something that Mrs. Clinton has not been able to do with voters that she tried in New Hampshire.

    Not in response to voters — not in response to Katrina [read "not for black people's suffering"], not in response to other issues that have devastated the American people, the war in Iraq, we saw tears in response to her appearance. So her appearance brought her to tears, but not hurricane Katrina [read: not for black people's suffering]."

    And others took the wheel and plowed into her and pretty soon blacks who had been YAWNING in his face for months suddenly took notice, swallowed it, and the wagons circled and the numbers flipped, and Obama who was way behind with black voters suddenly was way ahead.

    Even AFTER black civil rights icon John Lewis denounced people who accused the Clintons of being racist; even after Obama himself denied it and asked his staff and supporters to stop suggesting it—the calcultated, dishonest smear stuck as Noah has demonstrated.

    This campaign is going to make the history books for a lot of good reasons—and some of them very ugly and shameful—like racist attitudes toward Obama, like trying to claim he's secretly a Muslim, and like race baiting Sen. Clinton.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Feb 29, 2008 9:51:03 PM

  21. I am not and never will be a supporter of Obama. He’s a tawdry political hustler in a rightwing party who won’t renounce his pandering to scum like Donnie McKulkin . I’m glad he’s speaking out but he’s been silent about this in the Senate, not lifting a finger when Hillary’s campaign manager conspired with Frank, Pelosi and Reid to gut ENDA and toss it and the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act into the toilet. I’d think more of him if he’d proposed and fought for resolutions to end the war, impeach Cheney and Bush, and repeal DOMA, DADT and NAFTA.

    Nevertheless I am alarmed at the similarities of the attacks by the Dixiecrat Clintons, the Hillaryhacks and the Republicans attacks on him. They’re playing the ‘race’ card and the muslim card over and over, reminding everyone who’ll listen of his ethnicity and muslim acquaintances and relatives. This ‘race’ baiting has to stop, whether it comes from Dixiecrat Hillary Clinton, Hillaryhacks or the Republicans, who’ve already done polling to see how much they can get away with using the ‘race’ card or using misogyny if Billery wins.

    We’ve already seen the rate of gaybashing hate crimes rise, with three murders in February. Attacks on us and on African Americans will escalate if this trend continues. It’s very dangerous.

    Posted by: Bill Perdue | Mar 1, 2008 2:53:39 AM

  22. Oh, so we should believe him because he said it? How about we consider his actions? Maybe associating with homphobic preachers and black leaders says more about him than the bullshit he spews in a speech? Just maybe.

    Don't be stupid people.

    Posted by: Shane | Mar 1, 2008 9:04:35 AM

  23. To the Black Gay American-There is no bi-polar big daddy in the sky. There is only God. I am not sure what Obama's church teaches, but we believe the Bible is the unadulterated inspired word of God. The Bible clearly and definitively says that homosexuality is an abomination to God. A SIN. Man should not lay with Man as Man lays with woman. And Neither should a woman lay with a woman. The Bible says that this is a sin worth of death (Old Testament). Jesus' death brought life to all who were willing to Obey God. Paul speaks of those in the Church of Christ who were ONCE GAY! I don't think the issue has ever been if the Bible teaches homosexuality is a sin and do you believe the Bible is true? Someone should ask Obama that. However, from what I understand Gays want rights. They don't want people to agree with their lifestyle. Those rights can only be given by the laws of the land, Not the laws of the Bible. Why would you want to be married since marriage was first ordained by God in the Garden of eden? Why would you want to be a part of something that God made when his word clearly is against your lifestyle. So maybe it's not marriage you want. What about rights of homeownership, benefits. . .? I think that is a human right. It is not a Spiritual or Biblical Right. So if Gays want healthcare, benefits, for their partners like everyone else-Why can't they have it? We should make a clear distinction of rights afforded to us by Biblical principles and laws and those afforded to us by the Constitution.

    Posted by: Church of Christ Membr | Mar 1, 2008 10:01:41 AM

  24. So now Obama is also a theologian and biblical expert? Nope. All you have to do is read the Bible. Homosexuality is wrong according to the Bible. You either agree with the Bible or not. There is no other way to slice it. It's not important what he thinks. Christianity is not a game you make up as you go along. Obama is wrong.

    Posted by: Saint Paul | Mar 1, 2008 11:56:59 PM

  25. I've worked with plenty of homosexual people in the medical field.

    Never had a moments problem with them... they are caring, hard workers.

    NO WAY it's not BIOLOGICAL... no way.

    Anyway, I don't know what give "religious" people the right to persecute them.

    "Do unto others" is in the Bible too.

    I'm a Hindu and understand that God does not interfere with our free will.

    Btw, I doubt Jesus would enjoy spending His day at a mass production slaughterhouse.

    "Thou shalt not kill"

    Posted by: David | Mar 2, 2008 12:43:47 AM

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