Barack Obama went before Dr. Martin Luther King's church yesterday and delivered a stirring speech that, amongst other things, decried homophobia in the black community.
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. And all of us understand intimately the insidious role that race still sometimes plays on the job, in the schools, in our health care system and in our criminal justice system.
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. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.
The speech, which you can watch here, is beautiful, but marred slightly by the fact that Obama has worked with an actively homophobic leader of the black community in the past. And he accepted the endorsement of another just a few days ago. The Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, who has supported Bush previously but will campaign for Sen. Obama, runs a ministry that is all about the ex-gay thing. From the website:
We are pleased to announce the creation of " The Way, The Truth and The Life", a program created to provide Christ Centered instruction for those seeking freedom from homosexuality, lesbianism, prostitution, sex addiction and other habitual sins.
No one is spotless here. Hillary Clinton identifies Billy Graham as a spiritual influence even though Graham is (or was) famously anti-Semitic. But nevertheless, this is disappointing.
Update: John Aravosis contacted the Obama campaign and it told him that Caldwell was a little over-excited when he said he would be campaigning for Obama. The campaign hasn't actually asked him to do anything.