Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Hillary Clinton in Seattle Las... | Their Smiling Mugs »

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Barack Obama’s Ex-Gay Problem

posted by on October 23 at 10:52 AM

Barack Obama is still planning to tour South Carolina with an ex-gay/anti-gay preacher. Donnie McClurkin performed at the Republican National Convention in 2004—shouldn’t that alone disqualify him?—and has condemned “the curse of homosexuality,” declared “war” on the gays, and insists that Jeebus can turn gay people straight. He’s a bigot, pure and simple, and like other ‘mos I’m appalled that Barack Obama would tour a state, any state, even South Carolina, with the likes of McClurkin.

Now I’m not rabid on gay issues—really. I wrote John Kerry a check in 2004 after he came out for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. (Which was after he came out against a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.) And I was willing to support Obama—for vice president, preferably on a Gore/Obama ticket—after he came out for civil unions but against full marriage equality for gays and lesbians. I’m gay and I’d like to be married but I understand that the gay marriage issue is a fraught one for Dems and that politics is all about incremental gains and that we shouldn’t sacrifice the good on the altar of the perfect and blah blah blah.


Obama called for the Justice Department to fire an official that made “offensive and erroneous comments” about racial minorities last week. This week Obama refused to boot McClurkin from his South Carolina tour over McClurkin’s “offensive and erroneous comments” about gays and lesbians.

Here’s Obama:

“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 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.”

Excuse me, but what the fuck? If believing in the “respect, dignity, and rights of all other citizens,” including gay and lesbian citizens, doesn’t preclude touring with a hate-monger bigot like McClurkin, what the fuck good is your support? How can the gay community “stand together” with assholes that have declared war on us? And I’m sorry, Barack, but if you choose to stand with McClurkin—if you give him a pass on his anti-gay bigotry—than your “belief” in our brotherhood isn’t worth a bucket of warm santorum.

This is too much. It’s one thing to reach out to conservative voters, which Obama has said he intends to do. It’s another to to stump with raving bigots like McClurkin. If Obama embraces people that judge others not by the content of their characters but by the contents of their rectums, well, Barack Obama isn’t not going to see any of my money or win my vote.

RSS icon Comments


Can we say hypocrite?!

Posted by will | October 23, 2007 10:54 AM

First the border wall, then this: I'm done. Hillary '08.

Posted by Grant Cogswell | October 23, 2007 10:55 AM

Didn't McClurkin perform at a Democratic National Convention too? Isn't he just a singer in the band? Is that what you're really after, pro-gay gospel singers? Isn't there anything higher you can reach for?

Why is the Stranger obsessed with symbolism and uninterested in hearing what anybody actually has to say?

And why is The Stranger now seemingly pumping hard for Clinton, who is a thousand times less likely to make any serious pro-gay moves? Do you really favor the HRC approach?

More importantly, do you think Mitt Romney's going to be a lot better?

Posted by Fnarf | October 23, 2007 11:02 AM

Is it too much to ask for a candidate I can vote for without wincing whenever I think about it?

Posted by Chris B | October 23, 2007 11:02 AM

Obama is just another disappointment to us all. The machine is broken and it's not going to be fixed by any of the clusterfuckers.... maybe someday we'll have a viable third party that will give us a real choice.

Posted by M | October 23, 2007 11:04 AM

As long as you folks at The Stranger continue to lambast and ridicule the only candidate who REALLY speaks to your issues (Dennis Kucinich) then you've got no excuse to bitch about little slights like this.

Posted by DOUG. | October 23, 2007 11:05 AM

No more money to Obama and they sure were ringing me last week! Too bad, so sad. I'll hold my breath for Al Gore.

Posted by Lloyd Cooney | October 23, 2007 11:08 AM

I have to say that it seems a lot more is being made of this issue than necessary. One, from what I've read, it isn't like McClurkin is "stumping" for Barack. He is merely one singer out of many who will be performing at the final stop of Barack's tour in SC.

I've been tired of the two-party system for awhile so it isn't like Barack lost my vote, but the rant here and other places shows how shrill and out of focus people can be.

I guess it takes a lot more to ruffle my feathers - like an unnecessary and poorly fought war, corporate infiltration of our government, and creeping facism in both the Democratic and Republican parties.

Posted by Adam | October 23, 2007 11:16 AM

DOUG, is that the same Kucinich who used to be pro-life and has accomplished nothing in his time in congress except some meaningless symbolic votes. Thanks I'll pass.

Posted by giffy | October 23, 2007 11:25 AM

so, no vote for Obama?

Friendly reminder: you have to go to you Democratic precinct caucus to cast a vote that it counts.

The "primay" we will have is a beuaty contest that does not count for choosing any delegates to the DNC convention.

Posted by unPC | October 23, 2007 11:26 AM

If you're choosing Sen Clinton over Sen Obama on this ... well, you haven't been paying attention.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 23, 2007 11:26 AM

woo hoo hillary.

Posted by and | October 23, 2007 11:27 AM

the gays are always the first to get thrown under the bus. what, 5% of the population? not enough voting power. it's unfortunately that simple.

this is one of those tossing the baby with the bathwater moments. if the worst thing obama does is have some gay-hatin' gospel singer perform at one of his campaign stops, he's still head and shoulders above the rest of the field. he could do a lot worse.

please, just let this [non]story die. the media will do any and everything to ensure hillary is the nominee in '08, and framing obama as a switch-hitter appears to be their latest strategy. don't take the bait!

Posted by brandon | October 23, 2007 11:29 AM

So much for the politics of hope. This reeks of a cynicism so foul I wouldn't expect it from Newt Gingrich.

Posted by Gitai | October 23, 2007 11:29 AM

"a buck of warm santorum"

Posted by I just threw up a little in my mouth | October 23, 2007 11:29 AM

What kind of hate-mongering does McClurkin practice? Loading gays up in ovens? Or denying them rights based on their sexual orientation?

Frankly, Dan seems to be the anti-gay bigot here. At worst, this McClurkin is just a self-hating gay, yet Savage wants to prevent him from earning a living.

Because of this, I cannot in good conscience continue to read Dan Savage. I will write all the freeklies that carry him, asking them to run another sex columnist who lacks his intolerance.

Posted by holier than thou | October 23, 2007 11:31 AM

I think I was fine with this initially (he is just a hired hand singer, afterall). But, now that it's a big deal, that Obama actually had to make a decision about how to respond, and he chose to do nothing, I am irritated.

I also am wondering does McClurkin support Obama (one would presume so if he's singing for him)?

Posted by Julie | October 23, 2007 11:33 AM
Now I’m not rabid on gay issues—really

Oh, bullshit, Dan. Anytime a Dem says or does something on gay rights that you don't like, you throw a fucking fit. What happened last year when Dean claimed that the Dems oppose same-sex marriage? You actually claimed that gays and lesbians would spontaneously stop supporting the Democratic party. The amount of outrage you muster up on these matters is inversely proportional to how important they are.

Posted by keshmeshi | October 23, 2007 11:42 AM

Have you vetted the singers in Clinton's band to make sure they all hold acceptable views?

To read this, you'd think this guy was running Obama's campaign. He's not.

Posted by Fnarf | October 23, 2007 11:43 AM

giffy... The only thing that makes Kucinich's bills "symbolic" and "meaningless" (i.e. to impeach war criminal Dick Cheney) is the spineless nature of the majority of House Dems.

Keep voting for the likes of Hillary and enjoy your for-profit war and health "care".

Posted by DOUG. | October 23, 2007 11:45 AM

Julie, if it was your decision to make, what would you do? Would you fire someone based only upon the fact that they've expressed unpopular beliefs; beliefs that you disagree with? Wouldn't that be a horrible, wrong, thing to do? Just because it's a "big deal" now, that doesn't change the dynamics of an employment arrangement, and doesn't change what the right decision is in a case like this. Obama is doing the unpopular thing that, in this case, is also the right thing.

Dan Savage is usually fairly insightful, but on this one he has just totally missed the boat.

Posted by D | October 23, 2007 11:47 AM

If you want to get elected President of a 300 million person country, you're gonna have get the votes of a lot of people whose beliefs make you gag.

If some homophobe wants to sing for Barack Obama, why stop him? If he gets a bunch of other homophobes to vote for Obama, hooray!

Would it ever be politically feasible for Obama to crack down on homosexuality? If it isn't for Bush, it sure won't be for Obama.

Be realistic, please.

Posted by Seth | October 23, 2007 11:49 AM

@ 13. Does throwing gays "under the bus" ONLY costs 5% of the primary vote for the Democratic nomination? Even conservatives know that's a crazy statement. This is a desperate move by a desperate candidate to get socially conservative minority voters in South Carolina. Maybe it scores "some" points in SC but he has to know it will cause some problems down to road so it must be do or die time.

Posted by Touring | October 23, 2007 11:50 AM

McClurckin is NOT a bigot or a hatemonger. That's the story that everyone seems to be missing here. He thinks homosexuality is wrong, as does half the freaking country. That makes him ignorant. But not a hatemonger. McClurckin opposes discrimination against gay people!

This is the big shift happening in evangelicalism. Most of them still think homosexuality is wrong, but increasingly they don't think gay people are horrible evil people any more. More and more of them are starting to support anti-discrimination laws, and some degree of civil protection for same-sex couples, EVEN AS they believe that homosexuality is "not in god's plan".

That people like McClurckin are breaking away from the religious right and coming over to Obama is a GOOD THING.

Also the "declared war on homosexuality" and the "curse of homosexuality" quotes are being taken way out of context.

And Barak's not touring South Carolina with the guy. McClurkin is one of four performers at one of three events.

Dan, get your head out of John Aravois's ass and try actually investigating the facts!

Posted by Kevin Erickson | October 23, 2007 11:50 AM

Please don't try and turn this into another stupid Howard-Dean-scream type moment. Is one pathetic self-hating "ex-gay" folk singer performing at a campaign stop really enough to ruin Obama for you? Come on.

Posted by Hernandez | October 23, 2007 11:53 AM

Maybe this is what it will take for Seattle's big gay erection for Obama to finally fade away.

Posted by mjg | October 23, 2007 11:53 AM

OK, here you go. Clinton courted and got the support of Rev. Harold Mayberry, an anti-gay preacher from Oakland. This was no gospel singer booked to sing a song, but a political advocate against gay rights. But The Stranger doesn't notice, because it's not purely symbolic -- it actually requires reading the words they say.

Clinton is ACTIVELY COURTING the anti-gay vote; Obama hired one to sing. See the difference there?

Posted by Fnarf | October 23, 2007 11:54 AM

Yes, my children, this is how it all begins, every four years--the wingers sink the left. In 2000 it was the Naderites, in 2004 it was the MoveOn crowd, and now, right on time, the purists draw their shaky line in the sand. I didn't think it was possible to get the GOP back in in 2008, but you all give me hope.

Posted by Sammy the happy Republican | October 23, 2007 11:57 AM

Man, the quality of discourse at the Slog seems to have really gone down lately. (I blame ECB and Josh, what with their drinking and metro-destroying proclivities.)

Dan, you are right. And you are not "rabid on gay issues." As a straight guy, I've always felt like you were a human being first and a gay man second. With this issue, too.

I love how out-of-control progressives are working up this whole anti-Hillary thing, as if there's a rat's ass difference between her and Obama's positions on, oh, health care for instance. As if 88% of Democratic voters didn't have a favorable view of her. As if her negatives haven't fallen from 44% to 40% in the last couple of months.

Issues like this are *precisely* why some of us like her so much; she doesn't make these kind of school board election-grade mistakes. I think Obama's a great guy but I have 0% confidence that he will knock the Republican's collective dicks into the dirt come election 2008. Hills can and will.

Posted by Big Sven | October 23, 2007 12:00 PM

This actually shows poor vetting skills more than any thing else. At this point Obama is in a lose/lose situation. If he fires McClurkin, he's gonna look bad to some, and if he keeps him he's gonna look bad to others.

I guess I fall somewhere in the middle. I'm not nearly as offended as Dan. McClurkin is just a singer, not a campaign manager or policy advisor. Obama has disavowed his views. *shrug*

I think it was a mistake, and it certainly cools my enthusiasm. I won't be writing him any more checks any time soon. But Hillary hasn't exactly been a vanguard on civil rights issues either. And any of them would be better than back-stabbing Romney or Giuliani.

Posted by SDA in SEA | October 23, 2007 12:02 PM

"Clinton is ACTIVELY COURTING the anti-gay vote"

Fnarf, evidence please? I just went looking for news about this Harold Mayberry guy. I can't find anything her and him that isn't tied to McClurckin and Obamapologists.

Posted by Big Sven | October 23, 2007 12:06 PM

@21. Well, I imagine that legally, he is an independent contractor and not actually employed by Obama, so the "employment arrangement" could be modified or terminated at any time for any reason.

But, regardless... in politics I absolutely think you have to take into account the beliefs of the people you're working with. I don't think it would be wrong or horrible for a candidate to fire someone working with/for their campaign if it came out that they were a racist, so why should it be wrong or horrible to fire someone for being a homophobe?

That being said, I have no idea whether McClurkin is a homophobe -- Dan seems to think he is, Obama says he "disagrees with his views", but @24 seems to think he is just anti-gay marraige.

Posted by Julie | October 23, 2007 12:09 PM

SDA in SEA @30.. Well said.

Posted by Julie | October 23, 2007 12:13 PM

From the SF Chronicle in March 2004:
Like most religious opponents of same-sex marriage, the Rev. Harold Mayberry, pastor of the First African Methodist Church in Oakland, has preached against homosexuality to his congregation of 2,800.

However, he does not think a federal amendment is necessary. The scriptures direct people how to lead a moral life, he said.

"I'm comfortable in what I believe in," Mayberry said. "I'm not rejecting people. As God loves, we love. I don't reject thieves, I reject thievery.''
On Friday, August, 10, Senator Hillary Clinton stopped by the African American Art and Culture Complex for a meeting with Bay Area African-American ministers and community leaders.

"I thank all the leaders whom I met with for their contributions to our country and their commitment to fighting for civil rights and equality," said Clinton. "As President, I will partner with African-American leaders to ensure that the promise of America is realized."

The afternoon meeting, organized by Reverend Amos Brown of Third Baptist of San Francisco and Pastor Clarence Johnson of Mills Grove Christian Church, was an opportunity for African-American leaders to hear directly from Hillary Clinton on the issues that affect their community.
I want a president who knows how to strike a balance between addressing international and domestic challenges facing this country," said Reverend Dr. Harold R. Mayberry, Senior Pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal Church and Chairperson of Network for Interfaith Action.

Posted by hillary loves anti-gay bigots | October 23, 2007 12:31 PM

I forgot the headline:
"Hillary Backer Compares Gays to 'Thieves;' Opposes Same-Sex Marriage"

Posted by hillary loves anti-gay bigots | October 23, 2007 12:35 PM

I also think SDA in SEA @30 said it best.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 23, 2007 12:36 PM

Correction for @32. I don't know if Mcclurkin has a position on gay marriage. (he's a gospel singer, not a politician). I know that (like about 50% of the population), he thinks homosexuality is wrong, and so, yes, he's probably a "homophobe" on some level. But my point is not everyone who believes homosexuality is not "part of God's plan" is automatically a hatemonger. Ignorant, sure, but not a hatemonger. Again, McClurckin has gone on record as opposing anti-gay discrimination. The guy has said a bunch of things that would qualify as uninformed, but not malicious. He's not out to demonize gay people or deny them equality.

Look, we're not going to be able to convince everyone overnight that homosexuality is 100% awesome. But if those of us who disagree with us can still get behind the idea that discrimination is always wrong, then that's a huge leap forward, right?

Speaking as someone who has studied the christian right and Christian music industry extensively, I'm certain that the people who get excited about seeing Donnie McClurckin aren't going to be excited about him because he's anti-gay. They're going to be excited because he's a grammy-winning gospel artist. Obama isn't pandering to anti-gay conservatives. He's embracing different kinds of people with different sets of beliefs, and putting aside differences to work for common sense solutions.

I mean, it's fucking amazing that we have a candidate that both Alice Walker and Andrew Sullivan can get excited about.

Posted by Kevin Erickson | October 23, 2007 12:38 PM

What the big deal? We all know what kind of people become polititians. ALL polititians will do or say ANYTHING to win. As a culture we have been trained to accept the stereotype of the corrupt polititian so anytime one does something dispicable we just shrug our collective shoulders.

Posted by Dan | October 23, 2007 12:44 PM

Although his UNFORTUNATE opinion about gays, I love Obama. He seems to be a SERIOUS candidate and has great proposals (way better then Bush's ones). I always find his SPEECHES very INTELLIGENT, specially this one:

Posted by Leila | October 23, 2007 1:16 PM

what has mcclurkin said again, i haven't seen any first hand accounts or evidence...i'm disgusted morever by much of the racism i've seen in the comments on many blogs. i think many gay people need to realize the racism that exists in our community before we go around calling people hypocrites.

Posted by Jiberish | October 23, 2007 1:57 PM

Maybe someone else in the band will have a KKK hood in their back pocket.

Posted by idaho | October 23, 2007 2:37 PM


If by 'SERIOUS' you mean 'inexperienced,' and by 'INTELLIGENT' you mean 'vague and cobbled together from the viewpoints of his rivals', I agree completely.

Obama is a suit stuffed with fluffy rhetoric and a painted-on smile.

Posted by mjg | October 23, 2007 9:01 PM

The real issue is Obama is not pro-Israel enough. Hillary has my vote, she is pro-war, pro-Israel and who cares what she thinks about gays. It's not like the president is ever going to be pro-gay anyway.

Dan Savage is right to attack Obama. Obama is not the president to lead a war against Iran. Hillary could lead Israel and America to victory against Iran.

Posted by Issur | October 23, 2007 10:21 PM

Thank you Jiberish @40!

Posted by Papayas | October 23, 2007 10:29 PM

Annoyed by assholes? Try

Posted by Fred | October 24, 2007 4:44 AM

What does this have to do with Obama. He probably associates with Republicans to that doesn't mean he shares their views.

But how can you be an ex-gay/anti-gay? Now, that is funny

Posted by YACT | October 24, 2007 2:48 PM

A special comment on Gay Marriage:

Funny thing really, those who oppose are only defeating marriage alltogether. Most marriages now end in divorce, and that is protecting it? On TV commercials we see an elephant and a centipede married, and that is protecting it? No, a big no, marriage is already a laughing footnote in many non-christian communities. Why? Well, and this is the best part, because straight people, the only ones who can be married, turned it into a laughing stock.

What does marriage mean:
1. Legal Prostitution - you marry someone who will support you financially and give them sex to keep the interested, sex for money. When you divorce them you get half of everything.(bringing us to ...)

2. Non-binding - divorces occur a LOT, more than 40% if I remember the statistic correctly.

It's already corrupt and a huge joke. So, as long as they keep same sex partners from being married they are protecting the gay community, since now ONLY straight people can be blamed for screwing it all up.

Posted by KittenComputerGoddess | November 1, 2007 11:18 AM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).