Commenters at Talking Points memo are asking a good question:
Human Rights Campaign and John Aravosis: Part and Parcel of the Hillary campaign?
Anonymous wrote on October 24, 2007 7:09 PM:
I'm not defending anybody for doing anything. What I'm spelling out is this suddden outage by Aravois is disingenuous at best, and a poor attempt to BLACKMAIL Senator Obama to adopt his preferred solution. He didn't give two sh*ts about Floyd Mayweather or his record before Obama didn't capitulate to his ultimatium. So he decideds to stir up as much bullsh*t as he can. And in the process exposes himself as a racists.
So spare me your holier-than-thou attitude. McClurkin is a bigot. Aravois just exposed himself as a racist.
Following is the text of the email letter I sent to the Human Rights Campaign, after reading the news this morning that the HRC has threatened the Obama campaign that it will publicly denounce Obama if he does not disinvite black gospel singer and pastor Donnie McClurkin from singing in his upcoming gospel concert series in South Carolina:
You're Threatening Obama Now? (subject line)
This is unspeakably short-sighted and counterproductive.
I've always admired and supported the work of the Human Rights Campaign, But do you honestly believe that any other candidate in this race has greater potential than Barack Obama to move this country further along the path toward being a pro-diversity society -- a society that creates more acceptance and opportunity for everyone, including lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered people?
I urge you in the strongest possible terms to take a deep breath, then take a good, long look at the forest -- instead of the trees.
Of course, if you insist on going down this misguided path, you might consider exercising a little fairness in the matter.
Ever hear of Harold Mayberry? He's a black preacher, too. Like Donnie McClurkin. And he uses his giant 2,800-member Oakland, California, pulpit
to preach against homosexuality.
When asked about this in 2004, Mayberry gave the classic "love the sinner, hate the sin" defense:
I'm comfortable in what I believe in. I'm not rejecting people. As God loves, we love. I don't reject thieves, I reject thievery.
But just this past August, Hillary Clinton met with Mayberry and thanked him for his "commitment to fighting for civil rights and equality."
Ever hear of Darrell Jackson? Another black preacher. Like Donnie McClurkin. In South Carolina. Like Donnie McClurkin. He's a State Senator, too.
And a political consultant. Busy guy.
In fact, just after Jackson endorsed Clinton in February, he admitted that he's also negotiated a $10,000-a-month consulting contract with her campaign.
Turns out Jackson's not a big fan of gay people, either. Although Jackson abstained from voting on a 2005 bill for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in South Carolina -- two of Clinton's South Carolina co-chairs, John Matthews and Linda Short, voted for the bill -- he indicated in remarks on the Senate floor that an amendment was a moot point, since most people in South Carolina -- himself
included -- already opposed same-sex marriage.
Now, we know how we feel on this issue, and I've allowed my position to be known more than anybody else. I stand here as someone who is a pastor to a congregation of a whole lot of people, and I've said it to them and I'll say it to anyone else.
My personal moral position is what I believe and what I subscribe to. I don't have to come here and try to legislate it...There is little doubt in this body what will ultimately happen with that issue. That is a forgone conclusion.
How many times do you think Jackson has uttered -- or will utter -- anti-gay sentiments while Clinton is paying him?
Are you going to publicly denounce Hillary Clinton for her association with -- and endorsement by -- these people?
Or is she getting a pass, because she's "your girl"?
Please think before you act. Nobody's hands are clean here.
And from a commenter to Talking Points Memo:
Terje wrote on October 24, 2007 8:39 PM:
As a proud out gay man and a long time Democratic and queer activist, I find myself unable to become as worked up around the issue of gospel singer Donnie McClurkin’s inclusion in an Obama concert as many of my colleagues have.
McClurkin’s bizarre views on the subject are anathema to anyone who cares about equality. Clearly he is a troubled man whose personal struggles with sexuality have caused him to adopt a hateful message. How sad for him, and how unfortunate for all of us that he chooses to spout his hateful speech in public. If McClurkin were running for President (or any other office), I would be working hard to defeat him.
If the Obama campaign had invited him to speak about human sexuality, or appointed him to an advisory committee on human rights, or otherwise given him a platform for his views, I would be as angry as so many others seem to be.
But McClurkin isn’t supporting the campaign as a spokesperson on these issues – he’s singing gospel songs. As it happens, Donnie McClurkin is a talented gospel singer with a huge following, especially among a subset of religious African-Americans. His participation will attract a large number of Democratic voters who are attracted to his voice, not necessarily his viewpoints (which presumably he won’t be given the opportunity to voice at the concert). I’m pleased that those attending the concert will also hear an openly gay minister speak – not something that usually happens at a gospel concert. Talk about a teachable moment.
Like it or not, any candidate for President needs the support of millions of people who have dramatically different viewpoints on a large number of issues. Rejecting support from all who disagree (even on a fundamental issue) makes it impossible for any candidate to effectively reach the broad spectrum of the American voting public.
Is every candidate for President suddenly going to be held accountable for the views of all their supporters? Will entertainers, politicians, community leaders, bloggers, activists and others who are asked to lend support to a campaign be excluded for holding viewpoints that will be offensive to some voters?
If that is the test, I’m sure we can find plenty of other outrageous examples of homophobic, racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, classist, ageist, xenophobic or similarly offensive statements by supporters of other candidates as well. Do we really think Hillary Clinton has never invited an outspokenly homophobic minister to share the stage, or that they weren’t invited to the Clinton White House? Are we sure that none of John Edwards southern supporters haven’t uttered homophobic statements before (or voted for hate inspired legislation)? For that matter, what are we too make of the fact that Hillary’s number one supporter gave us DOMA, DADT, and cost lives by refusing to lift the ban on needle exchange? Should I refuse to vote for her because of the hateful things Bill did for political expediency?
For me, the issue isn’t the viewpoints of those who sing at candidate events, it is the positions and record of the candidate themselves.
Barack Obama’s record on gay and lesbian issues is clear and consistent. He speaks out loudly and unequivocably on these issues, and his legislative record is clear and without flaws. (And for those white liberals who are somehow convinced that all religious African-Americans are fundamentalist bible-thumpers, it is worth pointing out that Obama belongs to the United Church of Christ, an emphatically progressive church that fully supports gay rights - including marriage.)
With the sad exception of the marriage issue, we are fortunate that all of the candidates for the Democratic nomination are taking clear positions in support of lgbt Americans. Barack Obama’s policy positions and record in this regard are second to none of the major candidates.
I continue to support Barack Obama because I believe that he is the best candidate for the office. He is uniquely suited to restore America’s place in the world, and to change the political dialogue at home. In the end, I believe Barack Obama will be the best President not just for glbt equality, but for all Americans, and the world.
I realize that this may put me in a distinct minority among many who are blogging on this subject. I respect the viewpoints of those who have a different opinion than I do, but I wanted to share my perspectives on the topic.
(Terje Anderson is the former Executive Director of the National Association of People with AIDS, and a long time activist on queer and HIV/AIDS issues at the local, state, national, and international level).