David Kirkpatrick

February 28, 2008

Obama’s toughness on display

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:45 pm

He’s willing to face up to a controversial political subject (gay rights) in front of a very tough crowd (black evangelicals.)

Here’s a Ben Smith post:

Selling gay rights

Obama’s rally in Beaumont today was the highest-energy of this Texas swing, with a crowd that was about three-quarters black cheering at almost every turn.

An interesting moment came when he was asked a question about LGBT rights and delivered an answer that seemed to suit the questioner, listing the various attributes — race, gender, etc. — that shouldn’t trigger discrimination, to successive cheers. When he came to saying that gays and lesbians deserve equality, though, the crowd fell silent.

So he took a different tack:

“Now I’m a Christian, and I praise Jesus every Sunday,” he said, to a sudden wave of noisy applause and cheers.

“I hear people saying things that I don’t think are very Christian with respect to people who are gay and lesbian,” he said, and the crowd seemed to come along with him this time.

The moment reminded me of a conversation I had recently with a senior figure in the national gay rights movement, who noted that Obama’s deference to some black Christian discomfort with homosexuality — his refusal to dump the “ex-gay” gospel singer Donnie McClurkin from a tour — angered some gays and lesbians; but conversely, that his ability to sell gay rights in the black church is unique and appealing.

I think gay rights should be a given, but they aren’t. The GOP is very active against gay rights, and almost no politician is willing to touch the subject other than in front of that constituency.

It says a lot about Obama,  the candidate and the man, that he’s willing to bring the topic up over and over again. Even in front of wary, and maybe hostile, crowds.

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