I jumped the Clinton Middle Class Express when it stopped in front of the Iran-Iraq border and swiveled its 20mm guns to face the Republican Guard. Running back towards the relative safety of the newly secured streets of Baghdad, the thought hit me: I had just endorsed Barak Obama for President (or at least for Democratic nominee). That was right before the barrage of shrapnel from the IED of the Obama campaign’s promotion of Grammy-winning Gospel singer Donnie McClurkin.
The Rev. McClurkin, besides being a dynamite singer, has a backstory that’s not your typical lib-left Democrat testimony. He’s “struggled” with a sexual desire for other men that he attributes to a childhood rape by an uncle. He says that God has now changed him into “a man that was made for a woman. I wanted a family, I wanted a home, I wanted the whole lot of it.” He now calls himself an “ex-gay” and spends a considerable portion of his ministry telling other gay people that they, too, can be free of those troublesome homosexual urges.
The truth is, human sexuality is a wondrously complex set of emotional, physical and psychological factors that, so far, has defied the best efforts to quantify it into neat little hetero or homo packages. Let’s leave it to another post (or a hundred others) to discuss whether or not one can change one’s sexuality. Let’s just, for the moment, accept Donnie McClurkin at his word that he used to like boys and now he likes girls. (He’s still not married, but….)
Should Obama have included a self-proclaimed “ex-gay” celebrity in his South Carolina “Embrace the Change” tour? Does McClurkin’s endorsement of Obama square with the Obama claim to “broaden the reach of equal rights in this country” for everyone, including gay people?
Quite simply, yes. This is not like having Norman Hsu raising money for you. This is not like having Krauthammer the Inquisitor say he can live with your lack of principle. Ronald Reagan didn’t reject the support of the “Reagan Democrats” because they were members of the AFL-CIO.
McClurkin is exactly the kind of conservative “values voter” that the Democrats (and Obama in particular) need to bring into the fold if there is any hope at all of cutting out the cancer of the Imperial Presidency. Obama needs pro-lifers who can get over his pro-choice stand. He needs efficient-government fiscal hawks who can get over his support of SCHIP. He needs African Americans who think homosexuality and alcohol use is sinful. He needs business leaders and community organizers. He needs white men who hunt deer and black men who mentor kids in the inner city. He needs soccer moms and single moms. He needs Baptists and Buddhists, Jews and Muslims. He needs a big, broad coalition of people who don’t always agree on specific policies, but who agree that America must change course decisively for the sake of our children, our children’s children and the children of the whole world.
Coalitions are built, not on differences, but on agreements. Donnie McClurkin presumably knows that Obama has a more liberal view of homosexuality than he does. He obviously agrees with Obama on enough other issues that he lent his support to the campaign.
His is exactly the type of support Obama should be courting. I hope that the Obama campaign will resist the temptation to jettison Donnie McClurkin, and instead focus on the reasons that McClurkin has decided to work for Obama’s election.