As expected, there are still calls for Obama to drop Donnie McClurkin from an upcoming campaign tour because of the singer’s anti-gay remarks.
Columnist Earl Ofari Hutchinson, who first pointed to Barack Obama’s deployment of McClurkin on the campaign trail, writes today that he was pleased with some aspects of the presidential candidate’s response but that it didn’t go far enough.
He writes: “Obama’s response to my call for him to reject support of Grammy winning singer and anti gay crusader, Donnie McClurkin was a big, bold, and direct claim that he will fight anti-gay phobia, and aggressively challenge religious leaders to do the same. One of those at the top of the list of religious leaders that he says that he challenged is McClurkin. But one line missing from his disavowal of gay bashing was this: ‘I will not appear on stage with Reverend McClurkin unless he publicly disavows his rabid anti-gay statements and crusade.’ Since Obama didn’t add that line, this question still dangles dangerously. How hard will Obama fight as president for tolerance, specifically against anti gay bigotry? This is the supreme litmus test for any candidate that purports to champion diversity and tolerance.”
Hutchinson calls this “even more of a test” for Obama as he seeks support of black ministers to slice away at Hillary Clinton’s support.
“An Obama win in the state would propel him skyward in his march toward the presidential nomination. Black voters make up more than forty percent of the Democratic vote in the state, and a significant percentage of them are evangelical leaning, and openly hostile to gay rights. Many are strict Bible constructionists and take literally passages that condemn homosexuality as a sin against the almighty.”
As he points out, Bush benefited from the support of black evangelicals in 2004, even from those who otherwise may not have voted for him. Their reason? His call for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
Given other, even more forceful reaction in the blogging community, this issue is likely to fester. This election, many gay leaders are especially sensitive to Democratic candidates who profess to support gay rights yet remain silent or their actions do not match their words. Matt Forman of the Gay and Lesbian Task Force already has expressed doubts that this race won’t be a replay of past elections, where candidates haven’t stood up more forcefully for gay rights and have instead parsed their words and tried to avoid the issue altogether.
McClurkin on Monday told the Associated Press that he does not believe in discriminating against gays. “What people do in their bedrooms and who they are as human beings are two different things,” he said.
He softened his earlier words in which he said that homosexuality was a “curse.” But he still called it a “choice.”
“I don’t believe that it is the intention of God,” McClurkin said Monday in a telephone interview. “Sexuality, everything is a matter of choice.”