Oct 282007
 
Authors: Sean Reed

Apparently no presidential candidate is immune to controversy.

Sen. Barack Obama, still trailing Hillary Clinton, may have made a big boo-boo in South Carolina.

According to CNN, Obama, attempting to boost his support from within the black community in South Carolina, kicked off a series of gospel concerts in the Charleston area.

This comes in the wake of a recent CNN poll that put Obama’s support from registered Democrats in the black community at 33 percent behind front-running Clinton’s 57 percent. The disparity comes mostly from female black voters, who overwhelmingly support Clinton over Obama.

These low-key events to bolster support rarely even garner more than passing attention from the media, but it was Obama’s choice in performers that created controversy.

Obama invited Grammy Award winning gospel singer Donnie McClurkin to perform, which has caused outrage within the gay community.

In the past, McClurkin has said that homosexuality is a choice and made another remark that “he was ‘once involved with those desires and those thoughts,'” but that he was able to overcome them through the power of prayer, according to CNN.

These comments mirror the popular views of James Dobson and others that homosexuality is a morally wrong and something that can be “fixed,” which, of course, is hotly contested by the gay community.

In response to criticism, Obama discussed the matter with Joe Solomese, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, a group pushing for equal rights for members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities, and added the Rev. Andy Sidden, an openly gay pastor from South Carolina, to his gospel event on Sunday in Columbia. He appeared alongside McClurkin.

After meeting with Obama and gay and lesbian leaders Wednesday, the South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Pride Movement promised to hold a protest vigil outside of the event.

I understand the sensitive nature of this issue, but I think things have gone a bit too far.

Obama is a supporter of the LGBT community. On his Web site, he lists among his priorities the expansion of hate crime laws to include crimes based on sexual orientation, the extension of civil union and federal rights to same-sex couples and his opposition to a Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Also, under the LGBT section of his site, he released a statement on McClurkin expressing his commitment to equal rights as well as his opposition to the controversial comments made by the singer.

Obama bent over backwards to appease those upset with his choice to include McClurkin, but it seems they will not back down until he is taken off the bill.

Personally, I applaud Obama for keeping McClurkin on.

It would have been easy to pull McClurkin to appease detractors and would definitely be the safe move. However, instead of doing what politicians usually do – apologizing and dismissing the bad actor – Obama decided to try something different: engage in honest dialog and give both sides representation.

Whether or not the gay community likes it, people like McClurkin do exist, and will continue to exist for a long time. Conversely, the McClurkins and James Dobsons of the world need to realize that homosexuals have been around for the entirety of human history, and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

These two groups need to get past the rhetorical attacks and find a way to coexist. Until they do, we’re going to continue seeing more of this nonsense.

For now, the members of the gay community upset with Obama need to just suck it up.

I mean, for goodness sake, McClurkin was there to sing, not preach.

Editorials Editor Sean Reed is a junior political science major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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