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For Obama, Friends Like These Mean Playing Defense

The controversial actions of two different Barack Obama supporters had the Illinois Senator's campaign on the defensive yesterday. In Nevada, the campaign faced criticism for having Floyd Mayweather, a boxer with a history of violence against women who has been convicted of both battery and domestic abuse, as one of the main hosts of a "African Americans for Obama" event in the state, which is scheduled to have an early primary in January.

Meanwhile, in South Carolina a controversy continued over one of the singers in a series of a gospel concerts the Obama campaign is holding there this weekend that features Donnie McClurkin, who has talked about his own fight against gay tendencies and has called homosexuality a "curse." As gay rights activists have highlighted McClurkin's statements, Obama aides said a gay minister would also participate in the tour, but that was not enough for the Human Rights Campaign, a D.C. based gay rights group.

"I spoke with Sen. Barack Obama today and expressed to him our community's disappointment for his decision to continue to remain associated with Rev. McClurkin, an anti-gay preacher who states the need to 'break the curse of homosexuality," said Joe Solmonese, the group's president, in a statement. "There is no gospel in Donnie McClurkin's message for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. That's a message that certainly doesn't belong on any Presidential candidate's stage."

Earlier in the week, Obama had distanced himself from McClurkin's statements. "I have consistently spoken directly to African-American religious leaders about the need to overcome the homophobia that persists in some parts our community," Obama said in a statement.

--Perry Bacon Jr.

By Washington Post editors  |  October 24, 2007; 6:59 PM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Barack Obama  
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Re: tonygrafx

I think you're being a little bit too harsh. You admit that you don't know his real motives an convictions, which indicates to me that you haven't spent enough time learning about the man's history and positions to make an informed comment.

What drew me in to Obama's campaign was his governing philosophy. He is very clear about his principles (the caveat he gives in The Audacity Of Hope is "after all, I am a liberal"), but he is also very clear that he believes shutting people out and dividing people over contentious issues is not only an ineffective method of governing, it turns people off from the political process generally.

Obama's people did admit that they failed to vet McClurkin, but the fact that he wasn't thrown out of the tour speaks to Obama's overarching philosophy- that nothing is accomplished if people who disagree can't find ways to talk to each other.

That's what he's about, and that's what his campaign is about. I encourage you to read The Audacity Of Hope to gain a little more insight into how the man thinks. I believe you will be pleasantly suprised.

Posted by: beatpanda | October 26, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

When Jesus gathers people to him, it was in recognition of the fact that we are all sinners; that we all need his help. When Obama gathers people to him, what he's looking for is popularity and votes. No comparison. Having said that, I feel that Obama is acting like some "Mad Scientist" type; He's constantly mixing, altering, and matching the components of his campaign, seeking desperately for the "Eureka!" mix that will generate the most popular response. This approach may indeed produce a popular candidate; a Jimmy Carter good ole boy type. The diversity of his support group however makes me wonder at the sincerety of his platform. What are his real motives and convictions? Until I could be sure of these, I wouldn't(if I were an American voter) feel confident enough to vote for him.

Posted by: tonygrafx | October 25, 2007 11:53 PM | Report abuse

NO SURPRISES HERE: ANOTHER STUNT BY HILLARY AND HER CRONIES..AFTER ALL WHO IS JOE SOLMONESE? Solmonese is the former Chief Executive Officer of EMILY's List, which has ENDORSED HILLARY CLINTON FOR PRESIDENT.. What a credible voice. This is like SWIFTBOATING.. just started early at HOME CAMP first. YOU THINK HE IS TRUE TO THE CAUSE???.. If he was, he would have pointed his finger at HRC first who had invited many Anti- LGBT folks on her election campaign. BUT HE IS ANOTHER SIDEKICK they use. PEOPLE WITH COMMON SENSE AND SOMETHING IN THEIR GREY MATTER CAN SEE THIS THROUGH. As always, the crooks wont let a decent guy survive.

Posted by: paulchacko | October 25, 2007 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Obama might have a spine after-all.

As far as I can tell, McClurkin isn't against homosexuals. He is against homosexuality and those who propose that it is normative.

Given his personal history (available in many places so there is no need to go into it here) it's understandable that he may be particularly passionate about it.

Many people don't seem to understand (or accept) that it's possible to disapprove of someone's actions, their attitudes, even their subjective emotional experience without hatred. It's possible to fully understand the other person's position and still disagree.

As long as you are not actually violating (or advocating the violation of) someone's Constitutional rights, there is nothing wrong with disagreement. There is nothing wrong with vocal disagreement.

And vocal disagreement with a complex of behaviors and attitudes that have cost him so much personally is his right. Isn't it our duty to speak up about our convictions?

And isn't it our duty to engage those who disagree with us fairly and reasonably?

This rush to shut down and shut out all hard debate and shut out all who disagree with us (issue by issue) can only serve us poorly.

Heck, the guy's just there to sing.

As an aside, this is one of the first things that Obama has done that has made me go "hmmm....".

Up till now, he's mainly been Hillary fodder, just like the rest of them. Depending on how he deals with the fallout from this, maybe he'll be the one that I cast my last vote as a Democrat for, before tearing up my lifelong registration and going to The Dark Side in disgust.


Posted by: wash | October 25, 2007 7:20 PM | Report abuse

If a gay candidate hired an openly-racist person to host a rally, what kind of response would there be from from the black community? Would they criticize the candidate or would they applaud the candidate's inclusiveness?

I personally like Obama, but this was a case of bad judgment. I am sure there are plenty of homophobic people in all campaigns. But when a candidate hires people to perform or to host an event, those people reflect on the candidate, particularly when that host or that performer has a strong negative reputation.

Posted by: dharmashanti | October 25, 2007 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Congragulations to Mr Obama for accepting people as they are, exactly what Jesus did and taught to his followers. If someone chooses to be gay or whatever, let it be. We followers of Jesus are commanded to love and accept them to our lives, but hate the actions that do NOT bring glory to God. I see Mr Obama as accepting of all people in all situations, exactly what he has been saying all along as I have understood.

Posted by: refreds | October 25, 2007 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Keep your lies straight:
1.) McClurkin transitioned form homosexuality by "CHOICE".
2.) Floyd Mayweather apperance on Dancing with the Stars went unoticed by the domestic violence group.
3.) When in support for Obama these same people who were not mentioned last week are now villians today.
4.) By associating with those who are conviently designated as villians, Obama has also this week earned villian status.
5.) The "Black" President fact is now squarely before us, brought to you under the guise of Obama intolerance.
6.) Are these vocal Homosexual Rights and Domestic Abuse voices also speaking for those "Blacks" within their group?
7.) We are down to the major problem in this country Black and White. Obama is both so we will have a Black and White President.
8.) Don't fabricate lies against Obama under the guise of association with designated villians. "Truth Will Win Out" when the real motivations are known and not masquraded behind the fabricated intolerance lie.

Posted by: dmscontractor | October 25, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

You can't change hearts and minds by shutting out those who disagree with you. Obama's welcoming this preacher is what makes him different than Bush, Clinton, and anyone else who's self-righteousness keeps them from connecting with real people where they're at.

It doesn't mean Obama has to compromise on the issue of equality -- and he hasn't. He directly speaks out against church-related homophobia quite cogently, and he supports equal rights.

But it does mean he doesn't write off any individual based on a differing opinion. Sounds like a good trait in a president to me.

Posted by: renatarollins | October 25, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I think its time all the gays,blacks, and women realize that Barack Obama is the candidate most interested in providing true justice to everybody. He has expressed over and over that many issues are not race issues,sexual orientation issues or gender issues. They are justice issues and justice is for ALL. Our country is based on "justice for all" and Barack Obama is dedicated to including people , not excluding them. I like appreciate his honest "find some common ground" approach.

Posted by: eSPO1 | October 25, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

McClurkin has made appearances for the Clintons in the past -- why don't you report on that?!

Posted by: dani2914 | October 25, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Height of Kafka-esque absurdity: a gay rights group screaming foul that one guy who can build bridges between them and a homophobic community has the nerve to include as a SINGER -- not speaker, not policy guru, but entertainer -- someone with known homophobic views. Silly.

How many homophobes are working in or for other campaigns? How many closeted gays?

That Barack Obama has stood his ground on this is a good thing. He hasn't capitulated to anyone.

Gay America has to realize that make progress in the quest for their rights, they need to do what Black America did: build coalitions based on common ground. The Civil Rights acts, Voting Rights act and more were forged by talking to people with whom we often disagreed to find commonality.

Posted by: jade7243 | October 25, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Over the past couple of decades American politics have beceome so divisive ... the wedges have been so effectively driven in between poeple. We are so quick to take deep personal offense ... to make a situation into an "us versus them" thing.

We have so many diffcult issues in our country that will require folks to come together, to sit down and talk with each other again, to find common ground and get us moving forward again. Senator Obama is all about facilitating this coming together. He has years of successful experience working with disparate groups to make positive changes happen. His life's work is all about creating a more just nation and world.

Folks who condemn him for including Donnie McClurkin need to step back a moment...think about it. Senator Obama is inclusive and a uniter. His commitment to the rights of GLBT folks remains strong and resolute. Please realize that he is NOT betraying you because he's willing to include someone you don't agree with. In order to heal the divisions we need to be talking to each other...not pushing away!

Posted by: ricknej | October 25, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Gay activists: it's too early in the campaign season for you to be screaming wolf when it was just a lil ole rabbit crossing the road..your spoiled brat, bullying cost us Ohio in 2004..grow up and do some real the Black community has been doing for centuries.

A white liberal who has had it with you folks

Barack 08

Posted by: maelisa | October 25, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

What many choose to ignore is that the religious black community can be VERY homophobic. (Hello??? Anyone remember Ohio in 2004???) The truth is - you can't please all the people all the time.

Why is Obama being held to a standard higher than anyone else???

Posted by: GordonsGirl | October 25, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Listen, many of us have friends that have beliefs we don't share, but we don't abandon them. I agree with Obama to remain true to his word, and to help people overcome homophobia. I know this man is very principled. This man is not turning against the LGBT community. Please don't make this into a childish fight about if you play with that person, then yiu can't play with me. I am liberal, but my sister is not. I'm not about to exile her from my life. She has other great attributes. Please think about these things as you read this. This is just some hyped up shenanigans to try to shed a bad image on Obama, again! The Post keeps trying, but I will not fall for it!

Posted by: mizonglohong | October 25, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

As a strong supporter and contributor I feel personally betrayed by Obama, much as I did when Bill Clinton "protected" America with the Defense of Marriage Act. I have accepted Obama's endorsement of gay rights and civil marriage as an honest attempt to remain as progressive as possible. That, to me, is a unifying stance. Employing someone who literally preaches ignorance and justifies intolerance is frightening. When this is considered with his demand for the firing of John Tanner, it appears to be extremely hypocritical. I thought Obama would be different, not just another politician. How foolish! Idealism is dead in America.

Posted by: TeddyRoosevelt | October 25, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Say what you will about Obama, at least he's trying to bring people together. He also says things that he believes even when it isn't convenient. He spoke about fuel efficiency in Michigan, and AIDS to an evangelical church.

In this case he acknowledged that he doesn't agree with the reverend but is trying to bring him along to cooperate on places where they can agree. I hope a dialogue of compassion can achieved through this.

Posted by: dgarti | October 25, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

These are entirely unforced errors on Obama's part, and another sign he's not ready to take on Hillary Clinton. John Edwards, who's also been her most consistent critic on Iran is the real viable Democratic alternative to Clinton

Posted by: sfmandrew | October 25, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

imagine if the canidate had an anti-black preacher speaking, but then said "that's okay, I've got a pro-black guy speaking too"

how would that go over?

THATS what obama is doing

Posted by: newagent99 | October 25, 2007 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Cal makes sweeping accusations against Hilary Clinton and John Edwards. Accusations for which he offers no substantiation ...It's easy to slander, Bill O'Reilly has built a highly lucrative career out of it.

Cal says that John Edwards "...built his wealth on fraudulent class-action lawsuits." Hhmmm...I guess that none of the juries who decided the many cases that Edwards won would agree with him. Cal, do you know something about these cases that the juries did not or is it that you just don't know a thing about these cases? It might surprise you to learn that you or someone you know may well be an indirect beneficiary of them.
Check your facts, Cal, before your next gas attack. It may take more time than sloppy, emotional libel but try it, you just might like it.

Edwards cases principally represented plaintiffs in product liability and medical malpractice suits. One example, from approximately 12 major cases, concerned a 5-year-old girl who was disemboweled, but survived, after being caught and suctioned by a wading pool's defective drain. Despite 12 prior suits with similar claims, the manufacturer, Sta-Rite Industries, continued to make and sell drain covers lacking warnings. So, rather than spend some design dollars to fix the problem, or even to attach warnings about the problem, Sta-Rite persisted in producing a product that could disembowel a child. Cal, can you seriously say that you knew about this case and are defending Sta-Rite in their conduct? How would you feel were it your child or your neighbors child? Quite differently I am sure.

The fact is that the vast majority of attorneys work for corporations, defending corporate behavior. A small fraction are the much maligned trial attorneys who take on corporate malfeasance, such as Sta-Right Industries. Without these attorneys there would be no product liability laws and no push from insurers for their corporate clients to clean up their act. Without people like Edwards, Sta-Rite Industries would still be making a buck disemboweling little kids. Is that what you want? I think not.

Posted by: kelly | October 25, 2007 5:59 AM | Report abuse

Ha Ha Ha, dan.pop!! Hillary and Edwards? A candidate proven to over and over accept illegal donations, and an ambulance chaser who's wealth was generated by fraudulent class-action lawsuits, abusing the tort system.

Obama may have associated with some bad people, but Hillary and Edwards ARE bad people.

Posted by: cal | October 24, 2007 10:18 PM | Report abuse

"Another case of anti-Christian bigotry. If you are a Democratic politician today, you can only associate with people on the Human Rights Campaign's "approved persons list." Sheesh, so much for tolerance!"

Intolerance appears on both sides.

Obama also invited a gay minister to participate in the event and he has not distanced himself from the gospel singer... he did make clear he disagrees with one of the singer's personal beliefs.

Obama has been the most tolerant, showing that he can bring together people who may have religious differences, but can still come together on political issues for the benefit of the country. This is exactly why separtion of church and state is necessary.

Personally I think it's encouraging that a personal who openly disagrees with Obama's support of the LBGT communty still chooses to campaign for Obama. Proof that Obama can bring Americans together to get things done depite our differences.

Posted by: culb | October 24, 2007 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Another case of anti-Christian bigotry. If you are a Democratic politician today, you can only associate with people on the Human Rights Campaign's "approved persons list." Sheesh, so much for tolerance!

Posted by: Phil6 | October 24, 2007 10:01 PM | Report abuse

What about Hillary, she is married to an abuser, purgery and a serial cheater. She does not have the judgement to be president.

Posted by: vamonticello | October 24, 2007 9:56 PM | Report abuse

It's obvious Obama will sell his soul for a vote, playing to every group and pushing his ethnicity to the black population. What would he really bring to the Presidency? Inexperience and lots of half-formed ideas trying to placate every interest group. Just another ego trip looking for his 15 minutes of fame. Hillary and John Edwards are the only two viable candidates for the Democrats.

Posted by: dan.pop | October 24, 2007 9:46 PM | Report abuse

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