Bogus logic abounds in fight over MLK concert

August 16, 2013

Donnie McClurkin on stage at a concert in support of Barack Obama in Columbia, S.C. in 2007. (AP)

Mayor Vincent C. Gray did the right thing by uninviting gospel singer Donnie McClurkin from a city-sponsored concert at the Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial last week, but the reasons he stated publicly for doing so were predictably diplomatic. Quite frankly, McClurkin never should have been invited in the first place.

The 53-year-old singer and minister is highly decorated in the gospel world, but that doesn’t mean that his categorically homophobic outlook needed to be part of celebration designed to promote inclusion. McClurkin’s platform that he’s been able to reverse his own homosexual orientation through prayer categorically implies that there is something wrong with being gay. Add to that the fact that he’s compared gays to drug dealers, prostitutes and gang members, and yes, you have someone that is by definition, unwelcoming of others.

For McCluskin to imply that he was discriminated against because he was asked to bow out of the concert is intellectually dishonest at best and completely disingenuous at worst. In a press release sent out by the Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP) Friday, they claim that, “the black community knows that our civil rights were won through a strong faith in God that Dr. King preached until his tragic death. And most still believe in the truths of this faith that marriage should be between a man and a woman.”

Oh, is that right? Because in 1998, King’s widow Coretta Scott King said otherwise. “I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice. But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream to make room at the table of brother- and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people,” she said.

Let’s be clear about this: if your platform involves marginalizing an entire group of people based on their sexuality, that is discrimination. So, when you’re not invited to the party for said views, playing the victim is a fallacy.

Lou Chibbaro Jr., summed up the bogus logic in The Washington Blade earlier this week.

LGBT advocates in D.C. and in other parts of the country, upon learning of McClurkin’s latest comments criticizing the mayor’s decision to seek his withdrawal from the King Memorial concert, defended Gray’s action, saying McClurkin’s record as a leader of the “ex-gay” movement made him a divisive figure.

“If Donnie McClurkin was a white supremacist who called African Americans ‘vampires,’ ‘sissies’ and ‘evil’ people, then compared our existence to diabetes, he would never have been invited to perform on any stage in the District,” said gay Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Anthony Lorenzo Green of Ward 8. Green was referring to words that McClurkin used to describe gay people in past public appearances.

“All I ask is we end the double standard,” Green said in a Facebook posting Monday night.

Gray took the easy, and probably sensible road out by saying that McClurkin’s presence was denied because it would have caused too much of a circus. But in a city as progressive as the District, where gays can legally marry, there was no way Gray could reasonably not respond to protests against McClurkin, and more largely giving the absurd concept of “ex-gays” such a large platform on the city’s dime.

“This is an outright infringement of Pastor McClurkin’s civil rights,” the Rev. Patrick J. Walker, president of a local conservative ministers group, the Baptist Convention of the District of Columbia and Vicinity told The Washington Post Monday. “How ironic is that?”

It’s not ironic, at all. This is America, where everyone has the right to believe what they like and say as much. On the other side of that coin, people also have the right to tell you to be quiet. The line for tolerance doesn’t begin at one’s own beliefs.

Clinton Yates is a D.C. native and an online columnist. When he's not covering the city, pop culture or listening to music, he watches sports. A lot of them.
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