Democratic presidential hopeful, Senator Barack Obama, was overwhelmingly rebuked by LGBT leaders in late October over his invitation for controversial gospel singer, Donnie McClurkin, to perform during a high-profile campaign event in South Carolina. The three-date “Embrace the Change” tour, with stops in Charleston, Greenwood and Columbia, was designed to help the candidate reach evangelical primary voters, and in particular the coveted segment of religious black women, in the critical Southern state where he is deadlocked with Senator Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner.
Obama, who emphasizes his Christian faith, invited McClurkin, a Grammy award-winning gospel music artist and minister known for the hit songs, “Stand,” and, “We Fall Down,” to appear at the concert in Columbia on Oct 28. Gay and lesbian advocates, such as the Truth Wins Out group led by ex-gay opponent Wayne Besen, immediately noted McClurkin’s previous assertions that homosexuality is a choice that can be cured.
McClurkin, 48, who has led the popular Perfecting Faith Church in Freeport, New York since 2001, detailed his own decades-long struggle with homosexuality, and his belief that it can be changed, in the book, Eternal Victim/Eternal Victor, published in 2001. He performed at the Republican National Convention in 2004, and previously for President Bill Clinton.
When Obama announced on October 24 that he would keep McClurkin on the tour but also invite the openly gay
Reverend Andy Sidden of South Carolina to participate, the Human Rights Campaign in a public statement thanked him for the addition, but expressed its continued disappointment with his decision to remain associated with McClurkin.