Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Senator Obama and Support for Lesbian and Gay Persons

There is a lot of buzz going on today about Senator Obama including Donnie McClurkin in an upcoming gospel tour of South Carolina.

Now, I have to admit until this morning I had never heard of Mr. McClurkin, but he is a Grammy award winning gospel singer and also apparently according to Wikepedia and news reports, a person who claims his desire for sex with men was cured through prayer. There seems to be some disagreement about whether he is anti-gay, but in response to criticism, the Obama campaign posted this statement today on its web site:

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 have consistently spoken directly to African-American religious leaders about the need to overcome the homophobia that persists in some parts of our community so that we can confront issues like HIV/AIDS and broaden the reach of equal rights in this country. 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.

Some commentators are calling for the Senator to disinvite Rev. McClurkin, but I am frankly pleased with how much better Obama seems to be getting in affirming lesbian and gay rights. Remember, this is the man who needed 24 hours to get it right about General Pace's homophobic comments.

I don't believe that people can change their sexual orientation through prayer - or therapy - but I do believe that people can choose their behaviors, and perhaps that is what has changed for Rev. McClurkin. More importantly, I believe in the right to free speech, and that the cure for hate speech isn't censorship but more speech.

So if I was advising the Senator, I'd encourage him to include a gospel singer or another minister who affirms sexual and gender diversity in this upcoming tour, and to take the time to reiterate his support for full inclusion. We hope Obama might borrow from our "Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Sexual and Gender Diversity":

"Sexual and gender oppression can no longer be portrayed as virtuous and morally defensible."

1 comment:

Justine Urbikas said...

Obamam should borrow some things from James Cone who has pointed out that there isn't a difference between the rights of people of color and GLBT peoples.