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Obama in exclusive interview with Black gay magazine

Obama a friend to gays and lesbians.
By A.B. Craigwell

New York, NY — Oct 24—In a statement of commitment, not only to the Black gay community but as a response to questions about his position on gays, Senator Barack Obama, a 2008 presidential candidate, recently granted an exclusive interview with PULSE, a magazine produced by Gay Men of African Descent (GMAD), a New York-based social service and advocacy agency.
More recently, however, on Oct 23, the Associate Press (AP) reported that there have been calls for Sen. Obama to distance himself from the gospel singer and minister, Donnie McClurkin, who is among several other gospel singers scheduled to perform in a concert in South Carolina this weekend. According to AP, McClurkin has elicited the ire of gays around the country with his views on homosexuality.
Obama, in a response, carried by AP, to the calls, ‘said he believes gays and lesbians are “our brothers and sisters” and should be afforded the same respect, dignity and rights granted all other citizens.’
In the interview with PULSE, Obama addressed issues such as the “Don’t ask Don’t tell” stance about gays in the military; homelessness and violence affecting gay youth; homophobia in the healthcare system; and the elimination of the “F” word (faggot or fag) along with the “N” and “B” words from common usage.
Interviewed by Tokes Osubu, executive director of GMAD, and Robert Crawford, associate publisher for PULSE, Obama said that he fully supports the repeal of the “Don’t ask Don’t tell policy, where the real test for the military is found in its sense of duty, patriotism and willingness to serve. He referred to the 2005 General Accounting Office (GAO) report, which said that the policy has resulted in significant loss of qualified service members for critical occupations and who have important language skills.
“I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces,” said Obama.
He said that while the issue of homelessness and the perpetration of violence against gay youth are at crisis levels, gays and lesbians who make up 3% to 5% of the general population “account for 20% of homeless youth under age 21 in many urban areas.” Obama said that many young men and women face difficulties in their development, including rejection from family and friends, harassment, violence from peers, rejection from adults, HIV risks, and substance abuse.
“I believe we have to do more to ensure that we have adequate resources and support structures to nourish and encourage gay and lesbian youth, as well as all young people,” Obama said. He called attention to the cuts in funding to the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act and for funding restoration for the Community Development Block Grant program. “As president,” he said, “ I will fund these programs and ensure that we have adequate funding and support for homeless youth.”
With respect to the homophobia in the healthcare system and the Ryan White Care Act, Obama said, “We must continue to fund this vital program. It is a program that provides access to life-saving treatment and care for over half a million low-income Americans with HIV/AIDS.” He said in his campaign he proposed an affordable universal healthcare plan for all Americans.
“I will create a new national health program that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable healthcare similar to that available to federal employees. No one will be turned away or charged more due to illness, and everyone who needs it will receive a subsidy for their premiums,” Obama said. The creation of a National Health Insurance Exchange, he said, is a way of reforming the private health insurance market so that any American could enroll in participating private plans and provide comprehensive benefits, issue every applicant a policy, and charge fair and stable premiums.
Weighing into and adding another letter to the controversy surrounding the use of the “N” and “B words,” Obama said, “I find the “F word” just as reprehensible as the “N and B words”, it too has no place in a tolerant America.” He said that all Americans have witnessed a coarsening of the culture that everyone has to think about. The entertainment industry has played a role, he said, “but in many ways we have to accept personal responsibility and begin to condemn discriminatory and derogatory insults, wherever they may arise.” ###


October 24, 2007 - Posted by | Obama, Politics | , , ,


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