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Gay Minister Joins Obama Concert in SC

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NEDRA PICKLER | October 24, 2007 08:16 PM EST | AP

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WASHINGTON — In response to an uproar from gay activists, Democrat Barack Obama's presidential campaign on Wednesday added a gay minister to the lineup for its weekend gospel tour.

Gay activists had criticized Obama's "Embrace the Change" tour in South Carolina because the performers included gospel singer Donnie McClurkin, who says homosexuality is a choice.

Obama's campaign invited Rev. Andy Sidden, a South Carolina pastor who is openly gay, to appear on Sunday in Columbia. Obama discussed Sidden's inclusion Thursday with Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, which supports gay rights.

In a statement, Solmonese said he thanked Obama for including Sidden but told the Illinois senator he was disappointed McClurkin will remain part of the program.

"There is no gospel in Donnie McClurkin's message for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their allies," Solmonese said. "That's a message that certainly doesn't belong on any presidential candidate's stage."

McClurkin is a Grammy Award winner who performed at the Republican National Convention in 2004. He told AP Radio in an interview that September that he was "once involved with those desires and those thoughts," but God turned him away from them.

Obama has spoken out against homophobia, including in the black community. He supports civil unions for same-sex couples but not the right for gay marriage.

(This version CORRECTS Corrects time element.)