Big time. “Senator Barack Obama is drawing criticism for signing up a gospel singer with controversial views about gay men and lesbians for his campaign in South Carolina. The Obama campaign has recruited several gospel acts , including Donnie McClurkin, for a statewide tour to begin this week in Charleston.
“Gospel music is one of many ways the campaign is trying to reach black evangelicals in South Carolina, an early voting state where half the Democratic primary voters are black and where at least one recent survey shows Mr. Obama is losing ground to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“Mr. McClurkin, a black preacher who sang at the Republican National Convention in 2004, has gained notoriety for his view that homosexuality is a choice and can be “cured” through prayer, a view ridiculed by gay people.”
Obama issued this statement: “I have clearly stated my belief that gays and lesbians are our brothers and sisters and should be provided the respect, dignity, and rights of all other citizens. I have consistently spoken directly to African-American religious leaders about the need to overcome the homophobia that persists in some parts of our community[…]I strongly believe that African Americans and the LGBT community must stand together in the fight for equal rights.”
Except that’s unlikely to happen. One of the long-whispered secrets in the civil rights movement is that homophobia is more of a problem in the African-American community than it is amongst Caucasians, Latinos, Asian-Americans or anyone else. Study after study have concluded “that anti-gay sentiments may be more prevalent among African Americans than among Whites,” and when you throw measures of religion into the mix, the attitudes become even more pronounced (see Negy & Eisenmen, Journal of Sex Research, 2005, for more).
As Earl Ofari Hutchison writes at HuffPo, “The hard core black evangelical ministers loom bigger and bigger in the battle to slice away at Clinton’s black support. That’s even more crucial in South Carolina.”
Hence, Obama’s big dilemma. In an effort to derail Hillary Clinton’s mojo in the black community, Obama is aligning himself with black ministers, most of whom could not care less about “equality” with their “gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.” And Obama runs the risk of alienating his LGBT support in the process, thus the double handicap of such a move.
Of course, this doesn’t bode well for Hillary Clinton either, (“I have the support of the homophobes in the black community”?), but it’s a much bigger problem for Obama at the moment.
Shakes has more.
Cross posted from AoF