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Obama Decries Homophobia at King’s Church

by Steve Weinstein
Contributor
Monday Jan 21, 2008
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Democratic presidential contender Barak Obama used the occasion of Martin Luther King Day to bring a message of outreach to blacks about tolerance for gays. Obama spoke at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where King himself was the preacher.

"For most of this country’s history, we in the African-American community have been at the receiving end of man’s inhumanity to man," he said. "And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King’s vision of a beloved community. We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them."

Obama also made reference to the recent flap about rival Hillary Clinton’s remarks about King having the vision but President Lyndon Johnson the political muscle to forward civil rights.

Obama’s message played against the background of a controversy over his endorsement by "ex-gay" preacher Donnie McClurkin, who traveled on an Obaama-sponsored church tour. But it wasn’t the first time Obama has tied gay and black struggles.

In a speech in June 2007 at Hampton University, Obama equated scapegoating blacks and gays, "When we try to have an honest debate about the crises we face, whether it’s from the pulpit or the campaign trail, the pundits don’t want us to find common ground, they want us to find someone to blame. They want to divide us into Red States and Blue States, and tell us to always point the finger at somebody else-the other party, or gay people, or people of faith, or immigrants."

Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early ’80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).

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