singer whose role in a Barack Obama campaign event in
South Carolina riled gay activists served as master of
ceremonies of a gospel concert promoting the
Democratic presidential hopeful Sunday night.
Donnie McClurkin told a cheering crowd. ''We're here and
we're glad we're here.''
has angered gay rights groups by saying homosexuality is a
choice, told the crowd the musical acts were there ''in the
name of unity'' and ''in the name of change.''
An hour earlier,
outside the concert venue, about two dozen gay and
lesbian rights supporters marched and carried a rainbow
headlining an Embrace the Change concert that capped a
weekend of gospel music that Obama, an Illinois senator, is
hoping to use to recruit churchgoers -- and music
lovers -- in this early-voting state.
presence created a rift as gay and lesbian activists
tried to force Obama to boot the singer from the lineup.
Obama wouldn't budge, but he tried to quell the anger
by adding a gay pastor to the event. McClurkin, who
has said he does not believe in discriminating against
homosexuals, spent much of Sunday evening introducing the
Obama did not
attend the event, but in a video played for more than 2,000
at the Township Auditorium in Columbia, S.C., he called the
evening's acts ''inspirational talent'' that were
among his favorites.
The people in the
crowd agreed with their feet, standing and waving and
clapping hands to the blaring music, regularly joining in to
Obama has been
courting churchgoers heavily in South Carolina. Earlier
this month, he spent two Sundays at churches in Columbia and
Greenville. (Jim Davenport, AP)