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Archive for the ‘democrats’ Category

Speaking about same sex unions at a campaign stop in Appalachia today, Obama said:

I think that it is a legal right that they should have that is recognized by the state. If people find that controversial then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans.

Although Obama doesn’t think gay unions deserve the word marriage, I think his rhetoric on behalf of gay equality is very compelling.  It’s not just that fact that he’s using religiously-based, but easily translatable moral imperatives to counter religious homophobia, but that he’s speaking on behalf of gay equality to largely hostile crowds.  Even if Obama doesn’t deliver on his rhetoric, it is very promising that we have a major Presidential contender speaking this compellingly and unabashedly about gay equality.

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A Gay Reprieve for Obama?

Even after Obama’s gay gaffe, this Daily Dish reader still thinks he’s the best hope for gays.

I don’t know. I tend to agree with Dean Barnett of the Weekly Standard:

For Obama, L’Affaire McClurkin is yet another embarrassing piece of evidence confirming his not-ready-for-primetime bona fides. As with everything else he’s done in this campaign besides raise money, Obama has shown a dogged cluelessness.

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There’s been a bit of a storm in the blogosphere over Obama’s gospel concert in South Carolina, which was aimed at courting black evangelical voters.  Obama invited Donnie McClurkin, an “ex-gay” singer, to the event.  After a bit of an uproar from gay bloggers, Obama hastily booked a white openly gay minister to deliver a short prayer.  Rather than following the gay minister’s example of discretion, McClurkin decided to preach on how he was cured from homosexuality. NYT reports:

The whole controversy might have been forgotten in the swell of gospel sound except Mr. McClurkin turned the final half hour of the three-hour concert into a revival meeting about the lightning rod he has become for the Obama campaign.

He approached the subject gingerly at first. Then, just when the concert had seemed to reach its pitch and about to end, Mr. McClurkin returned to it with a full-blown plea: “Don’t call me a bigot or anti-gay when I have suffered the same feelings,” he cried.

“God delivered me from homosexuality he added. He then told the audience to believe the Bible over the blogs: “God is the only way.” The crowd sang and clapped along in full support.

I can see how this can be more than mildly offensive to gay people, but at the same time I think the whole controversy is way overblown. I’d say the gay community has a lot more to worry about than some obscure gospel singer preforming for a losing candidate.

But more to McClurkin’s message (disclaimer: not trying to legitimize his views, just explain them).  He subscribes to the Christian view of homosexuality–where it is considered an action, not an identity.  “Ex-gay” ministries were out in full force at the Values Voter Summit.  I was able to talk to a few people and pick up materials (Max Blumenthal has a good video report here).

The brochures are sprinkled with pseudo-scientific theories and skewed statistics relating to homosexuality, along with resources for “overcoming” homosexuality. What’s notable is that although these organizations have an explicitly religious foundation, there is no mention of God or the Bible in their brochures.  Of course this is a seemingly dishonest attempt to give the appearance of legitimacy (which is to say, not based on a single ancient text) to their cause.

The individuals I spoke to at the Summit were all very kind (of course I was covering as an evangelical concerned about pro-homosexual groups on my campus).  One must understand where many of the individuals active in ex-gay ministries are coming from.  Most once lived an openly gay life themselves (usually after being estranged from or ostracized by their religious family for being gay).  If you listen to their stories, they will say that they were deeply unhappy when they were openly gay. Their stories are wrought with drug abuse, sex abuse, and strings of empty relationships.  It’s no wonder that someone finding themselves distraught under these circumstances would try to find a “cure”.

Most of these individuals have undergone an emotionally painful “sexual reorientation” process. The “conversion” techniques include behavior modification, aversion (sometimes electro-shock) therapy,  Freudian psychoanalysis,  and prayer.  The American Psychological Association maintains that such programs are ineffective and even harmful writing, “potential risks of ‘reparative therapy’ are great, including depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by a patient.”

And in spite of all of this, there are individuals out there like McClurkin and those I spoke to at the summit who stand by their decision to repress and deny their sexual orientation.  I think we should cut them a break and go after the root of the problem, that is, the pervasive anti-gay norms and and prejudices in society.

Yes, that is no small feat, but it is necessary for true equality.  It consists of gays living their lives without shame, in spite of all the forces (external and internal) saying they should do  otherwise.  It requires that gays interact with and reach out to their straight friends, family, and colleagues (rather than hiding away in gay ghettos).

The push for equality must come from gay individuals who don’t differentiate themselves as some irreconcilable ‘other’ in society (as many on the Religious Right and Queer Left would have it).  Only then, when gays show that they are just like any other straight friend or family member, will the straight world begin to recognize their equality.  This is already happening, and I think there is an unstoppable momentum on the side of (eventual) full gay equality.

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Andrew Sullivan thinks Giuliani is out of his mind for recent statements made regarding Clinton and Obama. Sullivan wonders, “If he is starting with this kind of unhinged claim, where will he end up?” Probably a legit concern. Or Guiliani could just be reverting to the general Republican campaign tactic of criticizing their (not yet) Democratic opponents.

Then again, Giuliani’s foreign policy adviser, Norman Podhoretz, has been advocating military action as the only US policy option in Iran, citing the dangers of ‘Islamofacism’, and comparing Ahmadinejad to Hitler. Fareed Zakaria interjects a bit of realism into the discussion pointing out Podhoretz’ alarmism . He calls for Cold War style deterrence against Iran’s nuclear program. Excerpt:

Here is the reality. Iran has an economy the size of Finland’s and an annual defense budget of around $4.8 billion. It has not invaded a country since the late 18th century. The United States has a GDP that is 68 times larger and defense expenditures that are 110 times greater. Israel and every Arab country (except Syria and Iraq) are quietly or actively allied against Iran. And yet we are to believe that Tehran is about to overturn the international system and replace it with an Islamo-fascist order? What planet are we on?…

In a speech last week, Rudy Giuliani said that while the Soviet Union and China could be deterred during the cold war, Iran can’t be. The Soviet and Chinese regimes had a “residual rationality,” he explained. Hmm. Stalin and Mao—who casually ordered the deaths of millions of their own people, fomented insurgencies and revolutions, and starved whole regions that opposed them—were rational folk. But not Ahmadinejad, who has done what that compares? One of the bizarre twists of the current Iran hysteria is that conservatives have become surprisingly charitable about two of history’s greatest mass murderers.

I prefer Zakaria’s approach. And while I generally prefer Rudy as a candidate over most others, I find his foreign policy thinking a bit disconcerting.

More: Audio and transcript from last night’s debate on News Hour.

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Salon has an insightful article on Obama’s booking of an “ex-gay” gospel singer at one of his events, and homophobia in black churches generally:

On Thursday, as the tour began, Obama supporters from the African-American religious community and LGBT campaign leaders collaborated on a letter to the public that attempted to clarify their candidate‘s decision to keep McClurkin onboard, stating, “We believe that the only way for these two sides to find common ground is to do so together.”

Obama’s gay advocates obviously support him regardless of this fumble. But his gay critics are right to ask why he thinks getting homosexuals to sit at the same table with antigay and allegedly “ex-gay” Christians represents some kind of balance. Had McClurkin been a Holocaust denier, my money says Obama would be “embracing a change” in his tour’s entertainment lineup, lickety-split.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Obama is playing to both sides — that seems to be what he’s best at. He means well, but you know what they say about the highways in hell. However, adding Sidden to the mix without giving McClurkin the shaft was enough of an afterthought to incense the gay community without fixing the problem. Did Obama overestimate the depth of the black community’s homophobia and unintentionally solidify the stereotype about him — that he’s the white man’s black candidate? Well, if Sharpton refuses to pander to the homophobic faction of the black church, why should anybody else?

To the last question: Sharpton never had a shot at the presidency.

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Romney makes this ridiculous gaffe (from the Caucus):

“I think that is a position which is not consistent with the fact,” Mr. Romney said. “Actually, just look at what Osam — uh — Barack Obama, said just yesterday. Barack Obama calling on radicals, jihadists of all different types, to come together in Iraq. That is the battlefield. That is the central place, he said. Come join us under one banner.”

The comment set off some confusion among the press corps. Glen Johnson of the Associated Press was momentarily frantically searching for comments made by Mr. Obama, another Democratic presidential contender, about jihadism and Iraq.

It turns out, of course, Mr. Romney was talking about the new audiotape from bin Laden calling on insurgents in Iraq to unite.

From the chatter picked up at the fundy conference over the weekend, Romney’s blur of the distinction between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden is not that far off in minds of Christian fundamentalists.

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Jacques Berlinerblau, associate professor of Jewish Civilization at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, wrote a piece in WaPo about the lack of religious rhetoric in the recent Republican debate. He concludes:

Which begs the question, why? One explanation has to do with the content of the debate. The economic issues facing the American people do not lend themselves easily to chapter-and-verse citations. After all, it is hard to find biblical proof texts pertaining to ethanol subsidies. Then again, the scriptures do have a few things to say about taxes and none of those associations were drawn.

Maybe this demonstrates that during the Fourth Great Awakening religious conservatives devoted far more attention to social and cultural issues than economic ones. As Democrats are quick to point out, religious Republicans never did forcefully address the scriptures’ messages on poverty, preferring instead to concentrate on homosexuality and abortion.

Whatever the case may be, Tuesday’s debate permitted voters to ponder what the Republican Party might look and sound like if Conservative Christians make good on their threat to take their business elsewhere.

One could only hope that they do. I want the return of the pre-Rove/W Republican party–even if that means a Democrat may win in 2008. I have never been fond of the Democratic party, but I believe the Christianist influence in the Republican party makes it the greater of two evils.

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