Originally Heard on the John Selig Outspoken Podcast
Up until last week Barack Obama was my top choice for President. Well, actually he was my fifth choice. My first, second, third and fourth choices were and remain Al Gore. There is no doubt in my mind that Al Gore gets it. He understands the peril our planet faces from global warming and the huge responsibility that the United States plays in the treacherous abuse of the environment. Al Gore gets the need to provide all Americans with equal access to quality health care. Al Gore was against the War in Iraq from the get go and he has been outraged by the terrible abuse of power and trashing of our Constitution by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and their posse of Petro Robber Barons. Both Al and Tipper Gore get the discrimination that impacts the lives of LGBT Americans and are personally committed to our having the same rights as others.
I had been hopeful that Al Gore would decide to run for President once he received the Nobel Peace Prize, a prize that he so richly deserved. At this point I am doubtful that he will enter the race. The Nobel Peace Prize has given Al Gore a platform on a World stage that would be splattered with mud should he enter the political arena again. Hillary Clinton is far in the lead and poll numbers for a Gore candidacy are not compelling.
Two years ago, Senators Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Harry Reid came to Dallas and attended a political rally held in the park that is across from where Rodolfo and I live. I attended the rally with friends and listened to a long ninety minutes of political stump speeches from local Democratic politicians as a warm up while we waited for Obama, Biden and Reid to arrive, take the stage and speak to us. Both Biden and Reid spoke well and had the support of the crowd.
When Obama took the stage the electricity that went through all of us was magical. Few politicians have the oratory skills that can captivates a crowd in a way similar to the great orators of the last century like Winston Churchill, FDR and John F. Kennedy. I found Obama captivating. In listening to Obama I immediately knew that he represented a new kind of politics, a commitment to doing things differently that he wouldn’t be part of the smoke–filled back rooms, the political spoils up for sale to big money lobbyists and the corporations and organizations that they represent. After so many years of the evil represented by Bush/Cheney and by a Congress at their beck and call, I felt something I hadn’t felt for a long time. I felt hope. I felt inspiration that many in my parents’ and grandparents’ generations felt during Camelot as the Kennedy years were known.
While sitting on the lawn listening to Barack Obama speak I knew that I was listening to a man who would make a difference, a man who would do great things, a man who should and probably would become President of the United States someday. I also knew that this was a man that I would support and he gave me a glimmer of optimism for the future of my country.
Last week Barack Obama announced that he was going to allow Donnie McClurkin, a homophobic ex–gay pastor and Gospel singer, be part of his Gospel tour in South Carolina this past weekend. There was a huge “hue and cry” from the LGBT community about Obama appearing on stage with an outspoken homophobe.
Wayne Besen, the LGBT expert on the Ex–Gay movement and a past guest on John Selig Outspoken had the following quote from McClurkin in his October 24th column, “There are countless numbers of people who are not happy in this lifestyle and want to be freed from it,” said McClurkin. “They were thrust into homosexuality by neglect, abuse and molestation, and want desperately to live normal lives and one day have a happy home and family.”
Wayne Besen also had the following additional quotes from McClurkin:
- “Homosexuality has really ravished our children. It started in my generation. I was touched by it and I struggled with it and all that for years and there was nobody to deal with it. I started dealing with it in my sermons and even when we do our concerts.” (In an interview with FamilyChristian.com)
- “Everybody is going to the same hell. The religious hypocrite will go to the same hell as the murderer and homosexual. My job is to say that sin is wrong and kill the sin, not the sinner.” (From “The Voice” 16 July16th 2001)
- Commenting on New York City’s Harvey Milk School, which caters to gay students, he said, “The gloves are off. And if there’s going to be a war, there’s going to be a war. But it will be a war with a purpose.” (Said on CBN’s, “700 Club” on September 23rd 2003)
The Obama campaign has been barraged with phone calls and emails from LGBT folks from all over the country including several from yours truly. Obama’s decision to enlarge his tent in order to do everything to win the primary in South Carolina has been incredibly upsetting. Fortunately, the LGBT media has done an excellent job of covering the controversy. “The Dallas Voice” included a front–page story in its paper that was published on Friday October 26th and also included a poll asking the question “Does Barack Obama’s association with anti–gay Gospel Singers change your opinion of him?” Four days into the poll the results are currently 66% Yes, 25% No and 9% Undecided.
Obama now has a well–deserved credibility crisis with the LGBT community. Obama added Andy Sidden, an openly gay South Carolina pastor to open the tour and offer prayer. Obama spun the issue by saying that he has spoken to African–American religious leaders about the need to overcome the homophobia that persists in some parts of the Black community, and he will continue to be outspoken on the issue.”
Obama added in a letter sent out to folks who contacted him, like myself, who were outraged over Obama’s decision to include Donnie McClurkin on the tour, “We need to create a productive dialogue between people of opposing views.” He claimed that he has consistently supported gay rights throughout his career and will continue to work for an open, tolerant society where people of all sexual orientations are protected and their contributions are valued. Obama also included an open letter from sixteen supporters from the African American religious and gay communities.
I cannot help but ask if Obama’s tent would be large enough to allow an appearance in Louisiana, by David Duke, a former member of the Louisiana House of Representative and a former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Clan. Would Obama’s African American supporters embrace such a tent? Would Obama allow an outspoken member of the American Nazi Party to appear as a speaker at an Obama event and would Obama’s Jewish supporters embrace Obama’s need to enlarge his tent to allow such an appearance. I think the answer to such questions would be a resounding “Hell No” in both cases.
As Stephen H. Miller stated in his Culture Watch Column on Sunday, October 28th, “So while LGBT groups bend over backwards to condemn any real or imagined manifestation of racial insensitivity within ’the community,’ we’re too often expected by our fair–weather allies to tolerate anti–gay bigotry for the sake of all– important ‘coalition–building.’”
Personally, I am sick and tired of the double standard. It is not okay to align oneself with a person or group that is hateful towards gays even if it is to enlarge one’s tent. Period! End of discussion!
I have to question my support of Obama. My decision on whom to support for the Democratic nomination is now in flux.
I refuse to settle for Crumbs. I wonder how long it will take Obama, if he is elected president, to sell out the LGBT community in order to get policy enacted that is more important to reach his goals. Unfortunately, Obama isn’t alone on this. I don’t trust any politician to stand up for the rights of LGBT Americans.
We must hold all politicians feet to the fire. I am not willing to tolerate anti–gay bigotry and neither should you. No other minority would accept such treatment. Why should we?
It is our responsibility as LGBT Americans to be as vocal as possible on this issue. We need to confront any politician who sells us out. We must vote with our ballots, with our voices and with our contributions. We cannot be silent. We must stay informed, make phone calls, send emails and write letters. We cannot give in. We must make our voices heard!
© 2007 John R. Selig. All rights reserved.