Friday, October 26, 2007

How Could the Obama Campaign Make Things Worse?

It's hard to believe that the Obama campaign, five days into this controversy, could only keep making things worse. But that seems to be the case with their solution to have the Rev. Andy Sidden open the Gospel Tour. He's a nice guy and was gracious and happy to come on my show yesterday -- at least, that was in the morning, when my producer, David Guggenheim, booked him. Later on, he was reticent, almost canceled, clearly getting pressure from the Obama campaign not to do it (he mentioned a name of someone at the campaign -- Joshua -- and this was shortly after someone called us to cancel for him, but we could not, bizarrely, identify who that was; the Obama campaign later wrote my producer to say that no one at the campaign had called to cancel for him, but the call came on our guest hotline, which general listeners do not have). The question is, why were they trying to stop him from coming on?

One of the reasons might have to do with this: On the show he did not deny African-American lesbian blogger Jasmyne Cannick's description of him as white. I must say that this was baffling. I did not even think for a minute that the Obama campaign would choose a white minister to bring the message of acceptance of homosexuality to a black audience at a gospel concert featuring a hugely popular antigay black gospel singer. I assumed from his photo that Rev. Andy Sidden was black and light-skinned, or biracial. Sidden also told me he was not an Obama supporter, and accepted the invitation because he'd never turn away someone who asked him to pray.

Pam Spaulding has much more on all of this, on why it is wrong-headed to have chosen a white gay minister -- why it makes things worse -- and how easy it would have been to find a black gay minister to counter the message of antigay singer Donnie McClurkin. At a time when all communities -- black and white -- in the Democratic Party needed to see the inclusive message of black gay groups like the National Black Justice Coalition and the visibility of African-American LGBTs (including among ministers and leaders of churches), the Obama campaign instead feeds into the long-held distortion among some in the black community that homosexuality is a "white thing" and that the people who are angry about McClurkin's appearance are the the stereotypical, well-funded white gay lobby. And that could not be further from the truth in terms of who has been out front criticizing him and pointing to the problems here.

UPDATE: Pam Spaulding has the audio of the Sidden interview on her site.