Barack Obama‘s decision to work with anti-gay preacher Donnie McClurkin may have tarnished his reputation, but it wasn’t entirely a bust. In the wake of the brouhaha, Obama’s gay and black Christian campaign teams have finally come together. Why weren’t they working together before? Good question.
So, what did Obama’s friends do with their cooperative effort? They released a letter urging voters to use the McClurkin stink as a springboard for unity.
Here’s but a taste:
As representatives of Barack Obama supporters from the African American religious community and 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 and believe that this is a moment to bring together communities that have been divided for far too long.
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 and African Americans of faith, Obama has stated that all individuals should be afforded full civil rights regardless of their sexual orientation, and that homophobia must be eradicated in every corner of our nation. If we are to end homophobia and 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 and treasured part of their being, and for African American ministers and citizens who believe that their religion prevents them from fully embracing their gay brothers and sisters. And if we are to confront our shared challenges we have to join together, build on common ground, and engage in a civil dialogue even when we disagree.
The letter later urges critics to consider the alternatives. Would we rather a candidate who ignores black people? Obviously not. Would we rather Obama neglect the gays? No, of course we wouldn’t. Would we rather have a candidate who took the time to investigate his allies and their views on his other potential allies? You bet!
As for Obama “including” blacks who hold McClurkin’s beliefs – well, that’s all well and good, but will he be taking time out of stumping to explain why he supports gay rights? Will he explain why McClurkin – and their – homophobic beliefs go against their so-called Christian love? Will Obama call for an end to all forms of discrimination? Only Obama can answer these questions. And we hope that he will.