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McClurkin at Obama Event: "God Delivered Me from Homosexuality"

More details have emerged regarding Rev. Donnie McClurkin's appearance yesterday at Barack Obama's "Embrace the Change" Gospel Tour. Actually, McClurkin made more than an appearance. He emceed the event, the Washington Post notes. Andy Sidden, the openly gay minister whom Obama called in at the last minute to counter the furor over McClurkin, offered the event's opening prayer: "Sidden's prayer noted the importance of people of all races, backgrounds and sexual orientations coming together."

McclurkinIt sounds as though the only change Rev. Donnie McClurkin hoped folks would embrace, however, was the one he claims to have made from gay to straight, because it was on that note that the controversial singer went out.

Said McClurkin near the end of his appearance: "I'm going to say something that's going to get me in trouble...They accuse me of being anti-gay and a bigot. We don't believe in discrimination. We don't believe in hatred, and if you do you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. That's the whole premise of God. That's the whole premise of Christ is love, love, love. But there is a side of Christ that deals in judgment, and all sin is against God...Don't call me a bigot or anti-gay, when I have been touched by the same feelings. When I have suffered with the same feelings. Don't call me a homophobe, when I love everybody … Don't tell me that I stand up and I say vile words against the gay community because I don't. I don't speak against the homosexual. I tell you that God delivered me from homosexuality."

Calling the last hour of the concert "a revival meeting about the lightning rod he has become for the Obama campaign, the NY Times reports that "[McClurkin] then told the audience to believe the Bible over the blogs: 'God is the only way.' The crowd sang and clapped along in full support."

And via AmericaBlog comes this addendum from the Washington Post:

"...while the crowd left excited, it was clear the campaign still regarded the controversy as complicated. Aides gave reporters a three-page memo detailing McClurkin's and Obama's views on gay rights that noted in capital letters 'MCCLURKIN DOES NOT WANT TO CHANGE GAYS AND LESBIANS WHO ARE HAPPY WITH THEIR LIVES AND HAS CRITICIZED CHURCH LEADERS WHO DEMONIZE HOMOSEXUALS,' with quotes detailing those statements from the singer. The next paragraph then stated 'OBAMA DOES NOT AGREE WITH MCCLURKIN'S VIEWS ON GAYS.'"

Recently...
Gay Group Protests as Rev. Donnie McClurkin Takes Obama's Stage [tr]
Barack Obama Defends Gay Advocacy, Gospel Tour [tr]
Michael Signorile Interviews Obama's Gay Rev. Andy Sidden [tr]


Gay Group Protests as Rev. Donnie McClurkin Takes Obama's Stage

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About two dozen members of the South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Pride Movement held a protest outside the Township Auditorium in Columbia, South Carolina yesterday as "ex-gay" Reverend Donnie McClurkin took to the stage in an appearance that generated controversy last week after Obama refused to drop the singer from is three-day "Embrace the Change" gospel tour.

McclurkinThe AP reports that McClurkin told a welcoming crowd: "We're here. We're here and we're glad we're here."

They add, "Obama did not attend the event, but in a video played for more than 2,000 at the Township Auditorium he called the evening's acts 'inspirational talent' that were among his favorites."

Obama spoke to The Advocate in an interview late Friday in which he defended McClurkin's inclusion (which he attempted to counter earlier in the week by adding openly gay minister Andy Sidden to the tour) by arguing that homophobia in the black community is best conquered through faith outreach:

"Part of what I have done in my campaign and in my career is be willing to go to churches and talk to ministers and tell them exactly what I think. And go straight at some of these issues of homophobia that exist in the church in a way that no other candidate has done. I believe that’s important. We can try to pretend these issues don’t exist and then be surprised when a gay marriage amendment pops up and is surprisingly successful in a state. I think the better strategy is to take it head on and we’ve got to show up. These people of faith may be operating in part out of unfamiliarity, or they may be insular in terms of how they’re viewing LGBT issues, they may not understand how what they say may be hurtful, and the only way for us to be able to communicate that is to show up."

>Obamaprotest2


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.


Michael Signorile Interviews Obama's Gay Rev. Andy Sidden

Pam Spaulding has audio of Michelangelo Signorile's interview with Reverend Andy Sidden, the openly gay minister added to Obama's South Carolina gospel tour.

AndySignorile also alleges that someone at the Obama campaign may have made an attempt to stop Sidden from going on air:

"He's a nice guy and was gracious and happy to come on my show yesterday -- at least, that was in the morning, when my producer, David Guggenheim, booked him. Later on, he was reticent, almost canceled, clearly getting pressure from the Obama campaign not to do it (he mentioned a name of someone at the campaign -- Joshua -- and this was shortly after someone called us to cancel for him, but we could not, bizarrely, identify who that was; the Obama campaign later wrote my producer to say that no one at the campaign had called to cancel for him, but the call came on our guest hotline, which general listeners do not have). The question is, why were they trying to stop him from coming on?"

Recently
Obama's Gospel Tour Issues Deepen as LGBT Group Plans Vigil [tr]


Obama's Gospel Tour Issues Deepen as LGBT Group Plans Vigil

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It's hard to believe that Barack Obama's gospel tour problems could get any worse, but it has. Leaders of the South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Pride Movement reportedly asked Barack Obama's campaign to dump Reverend Donnie McClurkin from his gospel tour this weekend in a conference call that was held late yesterday.

After refusing to dump McClurkin the LGBT leaders said they would hold a vigil outside the concert on Sunday to protest McClurkin's inclusion.

Another revelation came out yesterday. Openly gay Reverend Andy Sidden, whom Obama added to the campaign in an effort to counter outrage over McClurkin, is white.

Pam Spaulding talked to Michelangelo Signorile last night after Sidden spoke on his radio show. Pam reports that "Sidden [doesn't] consider himself very politically active, and that he accepted the mission not because he was an Obama supporter, but because he couldn't turn down anyone asking him to pray. One of the reasons for his selection, he said, was because he was a UCC minister -- and because he was openly gay."

Pam offers some words about why Sidden is a big problem:

"The last thing a crowd of black folks who have a problem with homosexuality needs is: 1) to be 'told' by the Obama campaign that a message about tolerance must be delivered from a white voice of faith, and 2) to have their beliefs confirmed that being gay is 'a white man's perversion.' Coming from a white pastor under these circumstances, can only be seen as paternalistic and patronizing; the shields of defensiveness will go up, the message will be ignored. The most stinging message that the Obama campaign has sent is that they apparently didn't see the relevance or necessity of removing the ability of religious blacks to stay in denial, that somehow there is not an intersection of being black and gay. This move renders us invisible yet again, as politically expendable, because it telegraphs that it's too politically volatile to address the division in the community by having them confront one of their own -- black gay and gay-affirming ministers -- when it comes to looking at bigotry."

Pam also reports that McClurkin isn't as "ex-gay" as he claims to be.

Backstory
Obama Releases Letter from Gays and Blacks Supporting Gospel Tour [tr]
Obama Adds Openly Gay Minister to Counter McClurkin Furor [tr]
"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]


Obama Releases Letter from Gays and Blacks Supporting Gospel Tour

Gospel_2

Stating that Barack Obama speaks "truth in love to both sides," a group of black supporters made up of religious leaders and a group of LGBT some of whom are activists and former leaders at the Human Rights Campaign, this afternoon released a letter in support of Obama's South Carolina gospel tour.

The letter is an attempt to quell outrage from the LGBT community at the inclusion of Reverend Donnie McClurkin, an "ex-gay" pastor and notorious homophobe who performed at the Republican National Convention in 2004, has vowed to battle "the curse of homosexuality," and believes that gays can be turned straight with religious intervention.

Yesterday, Obama added openly gay Reverend Andy Sidden to the tour to counter the furor over McClurkin.

The letter released today reads, in part:

"A few things are clear. First, Pastor McClurkin believes and has stated things about sexual orientation that are deeply hurtful and offensive to many Americans, most especially to gay Americans. This cannot and should not be denied. At the same time, a great many African Americans share Pastor McClurkin’s beliefs. This also cannot be ignored. Finally, we believe that the only way for these two sides to find common ground is to do so together. Not at arms length. Not in a war of words with press and pundits. Only together. It is clear that Barack Obama is the only candidate who has made bringing these two often disparate groups together a goal. In gatherings of LGBT Americans and African Americans of faith, Obama has stated that all individuals should be afforded full civil rights regardless of their sexual orientation, and that homophobia must be eradicated in every corner of our nation. If we are to end homophobia and secure full civil rights for gay Americans, then we need an advocate within the Black community like Barack Obama. At the same time, while Obama has said that he 'strongly disagrees' with Pastor McClurkin's comments, he will not exclude from his campaign the many Americans including many in the African American community who believe the same as Pastor McClurkin. We believe that Barack Obama is constructing a tent big enough for LGBT Americans who know that their sexual orientation is an innate and treasured part of their being, and for African American ministers and citizens who believe that their religion prevents them from fully embracing their gay brothers and sisters. And if we are to confront our shared challenges we have to join together, build on common ground, and engage in a civil dialogue even when we disagree."

Read the full letter here.

Joint Letter from the African American Religious and LGBT Leadership Teams [barack obama campaign]

Background...
Obama Adds Openly Gay Minister to Counter McClurkin Furor [tr]
"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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