Will Obama’s inclusion of an openly gay minister diffuse the controversy over Donnie McClurkin?
The reaction was a decidedly mixed from the Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation’s largest gay rights groups.
After speaking with Barack Obama today, the Human Rights Campaign’s Joe Solmonese released a statement that expresses disapproval of his campaign’s association with McClurkin — yet thanks Obama for making an openly gay minister a part of this weekend’s gospel tour called “Embrace the Change.”
Solmonese said, “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.”
“I did thank him for announcing he would be adding an openly gay minister as part of the tour and for his willingness to call on religious leaders to open a dialogue about homophobia. We hope that Sen. Obama will move forward and facilitate face to face meetings with religious leaders, like Rev. McClurkin, and the GLBT community to confront the issue of homophobia.”
Solmonese also widened the statement to include other campaigns.
“We also call on all of the presidential campaigns to look within their ranks of supporters and make the same commitment to engage in a dialogue among differing views around issues of equality and fairness for our community.”
To say the least, there are probably a lot of different pressures on Solmonese, as HRC has strident backers of all candidates on its board and among its membership. The Obama campaign will certainly hope that it helps diffuse the situation.
But it’s not over yet, as other groups are still weighing in.
Another group, the National Black Justice Coalition, has condemned the “Embrace the Change” concert tour as “gospel music’s most openly homophobic artists; the most volatile of which is the Rev. Donnie McClurkin.”
Fox News’ Carl Cameron reported that another singer, one-half of the duo Mary, Mary, once said of homosexuality: “I feel how God feels about it … but I still love them. … I don’t agree with the lifestyle, but I love them. They have issues and need somebody to encourage them like everybody else — just like the murderer, just like the one full of pride, just like the prostitute; everybody needs God.” Cameron also note that McClurkin has performed at the Democratic and Republican conventions. He also pointed out that earlier this year, Hillary Clinton trumpeted her support from Harold Mayberry, pastor of the First AME Church in Oakland who has preached against homosexuality.
Why not just drop McClurkin?
Keith Boykin, an openly gay member of the Clinton White House and a classmate of Obama’s at Harvard, wrote on his blog: “If they disinvite McClurkin, they run the risk of offending black voters who are inspired by McClurkin’s message and don’t know or don’t care about the gay controversy. If they go ahead with McClurkin, they run the risk of alienating gay voters who have supported and contributed to their campaign since the beginning.”