I've been very critical of Barack Obama, because of the McClurkin outrage, and I still consider it to have been a coldly calculated pander for votes- yet more proof that Obama is not a candidate of change, just another typical politician playing typical political games. But I also have to give him credit, when it is due; and this anecdote from Ben Smith is greatly encouraging:
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.
Very impressive. Simple as that.
Because of McClurkin, it's not enough for Obama to be generally good on LGBT issues, it's important that he exhibit the courage to confront homophobic bigotry. Certainly, if elected president, he will lack the political courage to push for gay marriage, but so will Hillary Clinton, who is also generally good on LGBT issues. But for Obama to sell tolerance to a skeptical crowd is, indeed, politically courageous. And to do it by using the very religious framing that is often perverted to justify homophobic bigotry is both wise and politically astute. He deserves credit.