i like obama. i think he'd make a good democratic candidate for '08. but i can't quite swallow the balancing act he's currently performing to court homosexuals on the one hand + homophobic evangelicals on the other.
a coalition of black clergymen + glbt activists issued the following statement in defense of obama's south carolina 'gospel' tour, which prominently includes ex-gay anti-homosexualist minister/performer donnie mcclurkin:
"as representatives of barack obama supporters from the african american religious community + the gay community, we are issuing a statement together for the first time. our letter addresses the recent issue of pastor donnie mcclurkin singing at senator obama’s `embrace the change' concert series. in the midst of division, we hope + believe that this is a moment to bring together communities that have been divided for far too long.
"a few things are clear.
"first, pastor mcclurkin believes + has stated things about sexual orientation that are deeply hurtful + offensive to many americans, most especially to gay americans. this cannot + 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 + 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 + african americans of faith, obama has stated that all individuals should be afforded full civil rights regardless of their sexual orientation, + that homophobia must be eradicated in every corner of our nation. if we are to end homophobia + 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 + treasured part of their being, and for african american ministers + citizens who believe that their religion prevents them from fully embracing their gay brothers + sisters. + if we are to confront our shared challenges we have to join together, build on common ground, + engage in a civil dialogue even when we disagree.
"we also ask senator obama’s critics to consider the alternatives. would we prefer a candidate who ignores the realities in the african american community + cuts off millions of blacks who believe things offensive to many americans? or a panderer who tells african americans what they want to hear, at the expense of our gay brothers + sisters? or would we rather stand with barack obama, who speaks truth in love to both sides, pulling no punches but foreclosing no opportunities to engage?
"we stand with senator obama. we stand with him because of the solutions he is proposing for our nation. we stand with him because of his character + his judgment. but the most important reason we stand with him is because today, as he has done all along, barack obama is causing us to stand together.
"that's the kind of president we need, + we are proud to support him."
fine words, in spite of dignifying intolerance + hate speech in the name of un-ignorable 'belief.'
moreover, obama has invited the 'openly' gay rev. andy sidden, pastor of the garden of grace ucc church in columbia, sc, to join the tour. a move made, without doubt, in response to the outspoken glbt 'pundits' who criticized obama for cozying up to mccormack. a gesture of token inclusion that obama would likely not have thought to make had it not been for these pundits, now being politely asked to shut up.
i, too, believe in civil dialogue. but dialogue suggests a level playing field on at least two sides.
i'm fine with mccormack as someone who earns his bread by preaching hate + calling it god's grace. he's just making the gig work for him. it's capitalism + for many it's christianity. i don't like it, but as a homosexual lefty american atheist, i've had to stomach worse.
i'm fine with obama including mccormack in his s.c. 'gospel' show, as he wraps himself + jesus together in the american flag to win southern evangelical votes. it's politics, + i'm unaware of any of the front runners who are not doing much the same or wishing they had thought to do so first. hell, it's probably why they're allowed to be front runners in the first place.
what pisses me off is it's the gays (again) who are being asked to play nice for the good-hearted democrats, who find it never hurts to urge the gays to shut their yaps, even while the democrats provide a platform for homophobes to open theirs.
so i'm fine, especially, with those glbt pundits who exercised their rights of free speech to criticize an 'electable' golden-boy candidate, so full of 'love' for us all, + managed to get a gay african-american minister on the stage with obama + the homophobe.
it's not right that, if we yelp when somebody hits us, it's our yelps that are called divisive + counter-productive, not the homophobe spewing bile.
it's also an insult to black americans to assume that the majority of them cannot see their own clear interests in supporting civil rights for all, including the liberty to pursue happiness in ways the bible disapproves. (the same bible, i might add, that has been used to support slavery + segregation in the past.)
or that they can't likewise be reasoned with to lay down their divisive + counter-productive (let alone non-'embracing') anti-gay bigotry.
it's a particular insult to the legacies of coretta scott king, jesse jackson, + others who saw, decades ago, a common bond between their christian faith + the struggles of gay americans of all races.