10/23/2007 02:00 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Obama and McClurkin: Don't Care

With all the ruckus about Barack Obama's cozying up to Donnie McClurkin, the gospel singer notoriously ignorant about the possibility of curing homosexuality, you'd think that none of the Democratic candidates have been pandering to the homophobic vote from the day they started running. More precisely, they have all been walking that tight-rope they hate so much between throwing a bone to the gays (and the LBTs) while not scaring off ostensibly straight voters.

In this game, all candidates have been associated with homophobes. For instance, Hillary Clinton recently trumpeted her friendship with Harold Mayberry, of the First African Methodist Church in Oakland; her press release on the meeting/endorsement left out the fact that Mayberry believes homosexuality to be comparable to thievery.

This campaigning compartmentalization has lead to the absurdity of Democrats rediscovering the value of states' rights, after the brief 1960s folly of empowering the federal government to have a say in the minor matter of local civil rights; segregationist Democratic party greats such as George Wallace would feel vindicated. The irony is thick: Democrats can't get enough of the federal government regulating every aspect of our lives, except on the one issue of same-sex marriage.

More bluntly, the leading Democratic candidates' stance on same-sex marriage is in itself homophobic, although I don't completely blame Clinton, Obama or John Edwards (actually, him I do blame for being a coward and trying to have it both ways by hiding behind both his faith and his wife). They are making a political calculation, and it is their right to do so; it is for the rest of us to show that calculation to be increasingly flawed.

His association with a fool like McClurkin notwithstanding, Obama easily remains the most convincing on the issue of gay rights. He is by far the most comfortably eloquent on the subject, and he is right when he says that he is the only candidate who has brought the fight to some of its toughest frontiers. Clinton, Ms. DOMA, is fine in front of a Human Rights Campaign audience, but, as with everything else, overly cautious elsewhere. As for Edwards, his stated "struggle" on the issue of gay marriage is not exactly inspiring, especially coming from Mr. Slick on every other topic. And, of course, we love Dennis Kucinich, but we are not going there.