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.
The 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.”