Friday, October 26, 2007

Obama Facing Concert Critique from Gay Rights Groups

United Church of Christ member and Presidential candidate Barack Obama is facing criticism from segments of the gay rights community as his South Carolina campaign begins a weekend series of Gospel concerts in order to reach religious voters in the state.

The "EMBRACE THE CHANGE! Gospel Tour" takes place in three cities and features two popular artists who've spoken out against homosexuality-- Mary Mary and Donnie McClurkin-- a former homosexual who now renounces the lifestyle.

Gay rights groups, like Truth Wins Out, are upset the Obama campaign has not removed McClurkin from its list of performers. In response, an openly gay minister was added to the tour to give an invocation. And Obama himself issued the following:
I have clearly stated my belief that gays and lesbians are our brothers and sisters and should be provided the respect, dignity, and rights of all other citizens... I strongly believe that African Americans and the LGBT community must stand together in the fight for equal rights. And so I strongly disagree with Reverend McClurkin's views and will continue to fight for these rights as President of the United States to ensure that America is a country that spreads tolerance instead of division.
Still, that statement hasn't completely satisfied Joe Solmonese, President of Human Rights Watch, who made the following statement on Thursday:
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.
But as a matter of policy, Obama supports every issue of concern to gay rights groups, short of same-sex marriage-- even while a Winthrop/ETV poll of African Americans in South Carolina shows that 74% view "sex between two adults of the same sex" as "unacceptable," with 62% calling it "strongly unacceptable." Certainly if elected, Obama will be a friend to gay civil rights groups.

So why are these same groups insistent that McClurkin be removed?

If one went so far as to look at this situation through the theological lens of the United Church of Christ, isn't Obama's campaign simply trying to bring people from all sides together, so that "all may be one"?

Donnie McClurkin and Mary Mary are demonstrating "tolerance" by associating their name with a candidate who supports the political agenda of gay rights groups.

The openly gay minister praying the invocation is showing "tolerance" by sharing the same stage with performers who believe homosexuality grieves the heart of God.

Where then is the "tolerance" of groups like Human Rights Watch and Truth Wins Out? If someone personally believes homosexual practices are wrong, yet wants to work with a politician who supports gay rights, why should that person be denied the ability to participate?

It goes to show: Exclusion is not just the exclusive work of political and religious conservatives.

UPDATE: The New York Times reports on McClurkin's concert appearance.

No comments: