Saturday, February 9, 2008

Obama Campaign In Meltdown After Gay-Bash Tour Announcement

More from Rod 2.0:
"The hits keep coming for the ill-advised campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, which is in complete meltdown mode after booking a gospel revival tour in South Carolina and failing to background the participants. New reports suggest Camp Obama rejected at least TWO openly gay black pastors, and two straight allies, including the popular Rev. Michael Eric Dyson, as choices to open the concert series.
This news comes as the campaign releases an open letter by prominent black clergy and gay supporters which says the White House hopeful rejects the beliefs of alleged "ex-gay" Rev. Donnie McClurkin and "at the same time, a great many African Americans share Pastor McClurkin's beliefs."
The amateurish attempt at damage control was in response to the backclash against the headliners—alleged "ex-gay" Rev. Donnie McClurkin, notorious gay-basher Rev. Hezekiah Walker, and, popular gospel duo Mary Mary, who have compared gays to prostitutes and murderers. The inclusion of the Rev. Andy Sidden, who is white, to address homophobia in the black church has only heightened tensions between blacks and the gay community, and, outraged the black gay community.
Several sources inside and outside the campaign confirm the names of TWO openly gay black pastors suggested by the National Black Justice Coalition and the Human Rights Campaign were rejected in favor of Rev. Sidden. Those names are: Bishop Yvette Flunder, an outstanding pastor and orator from San Francisco and Bishop Tonyia Rawls of Unity Fellowship in North Carolina. In addition, Bishop Carlton Pearson of Oklahoma, whose inclusive ministry welcomes the LGBT community, was also rejected. A campaign source says Rev. Michael Eric Dyson, the so-called hip-hop intellectual, reportedly volunteered and was also rejected. Dyson is a prominent Obama supporter and very popular in hip-hop and with youth.
"We decided to go with someone local," says our source in the Obama campaign, who expressed concerns around finding a "local" gay pastor in Obama's own United Church of Christ. Yvette Flunder is a bishop in the United Church of Christ, so, this should have been a non-brainer. There were no such concerns around Hezekiah Walker and Donnie McClurkin who are in the Pentecostal Church.
The campaign's refusal to put a black face—especially a straight ally—to speak against homophobia reinforces stereotypes about blacks and drives a thicker wedge between blacks and gays. Presidential campaign veteran Keith Boykin: "I don't know if the Obama campaign realizes this, but inviting a white gay pastor to speak at a black gospel concert is not a smart move. Whoever is advising Obama really needs to reach out to people in the black community and re-think this whole approach."
Pam Spaulding is also outraged: "It boggles the mind that the Obama campaign would select a white pastor to deal with a situation that is awash in black homophobia," she says, explaining that the message "coming from a white pastor under these circumstances, can only be seen as paternalistic and patronizing; the shields of defensiveness will go up, the message will be ignored."
South Carolina-based Alvin McEwan blogs on black gays and religion at Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters. Let's give him the last word: "LGBTs of color haven't been just pushed to the back of the bus in this controversy. We have been kicked off of the bus and told to find our own way home."