Stumping on Hate

There has been a lot of buzz this week around presidential hopeful
Barack Obama’s choice to include gospel singer and anti-gay
minister, Rev. Donnie McClurkin in an upcoming stump effort in
North Carolina. The state’s primary is scheduled at a significant
time (after NH and IA and before several big states vote on Feb. 5)
and the Obama campaign is using the tour as part of a broader
effort to court the black evangelical vote.

Despite protests from prominent LGBTQ organizations and comparisons
to a jaunt that President Bush made with the reverend in 2004,
Obama has decided to continue with the tour. He has added an openly
gay minister to the lineup, which has done little to quell
activists’ presumptions that by including someone who says that
homosexuality can be “overcome,”
Obama is trying to play both sides: being “supportive” of the
community and also implicitly
endorsing bigotry

It will be interesting to see the repercussions of this dual
pandering. Will it work or will Obama be seen disingenuous on both

Using homophobia to garner votes is not limited to national
politics. In my native Texas, a Fort Worth city council race brings
ignorance into the local political fray.

The city council race is supposed to be non-partisan. But after
explaining that the race would likely result in a run-off between
hopefuls, Chris Turner and Joel Burns, a current city council
member, Chuck Silcox, encouraged
voters to support Turner
, citing two characteristics that are
not on Burns’ platform.

“This is an excellent time to have Republicans get out and support
a Republican: Chris Turner…We have two people of opposite
partisan politics, opposite philosophical persuasions and opposite
sexual orientations. I didn’t tell you which one was homosexual,”
Silcox said as the crowd laughed. Pointing to Turner, Silcox
continued: “He’s married to a female, and the other’s married to a
male. You make your own mind up.”

Burns, who has had a partner for 15 years, is not participating in
the mudslinging. Though he’s not surprised that his sexuality has
been brought up in the race, he is disappointed with the negative
manner in which it was presented.

At a candidates’ forum on Thursday, Joel Burns responded:

“Councilman Silcox and my opponent Chris Turner had some things to
say about me that were not very pleasant…I think there,
unfortunately, has been a very partisan injection into some of the
rhetoric and the things that they’ve said. I will represent
everyone equally and not represent just some finite, narrow
political ideological spectrum,” he said.

Hopefully the voters of Fort Worth will prioritize integrity over
dirty politics.