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Obama to Launch Faith Tour That Includes Supporter of Prop. 8

Obama to Launch Faith Tour That Includes Supporter of Prop. 8


Sen. Barack Obama's campaign is reportedly launching a "Faith, Family, and Values Tour" next week that will include Catholic legal scholar Douglas Kmiec as one of the campaign's surrogates. Kmiec wrote an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle this summer in which he urged support for passing California's marriage ban, Proposition 8.

The Christian Broadcasting Network is reporting that the Obama campaign next week will kick off "Barack Obama: Faith, Family, and Values Tour," designed to woo the votes of left-leaning Catholics, progressive Evangelicals, and some conservative mainline Protestants. If LGBT people find the tour eerily reminiscent of the South Carolina gospel tour the campaign arranged last year with antigay "ex-gay" gospel singer Donnie McClurkin, their instincts may not be far off.

CBN names Catholic legal scholar Douglas Kmiec as one of the religious surrogates who will hit the road stumping for Obama. Kmiec wrote a June 13 op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle supporting California's Proposition 8, the ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage, titled "On Same-Sex Marriage: Should California Amend Its Constitution? Say 'No' to the Brave New World." Kmiec's first two sentences in the piece read, "The California ballot initiative intended to set aside the state supreme court's judicial invention of same-sex marriage deserves public support. Maybe it is enough to say, as many do in conversation, that it merely re-secures a millennia of tradition and common sense."

In the op-ed, Kmiec says the state supreme court ignored the separation of church and state in its ruling and argues that allowing gay marriage serves to separate the institution of marriage from procreation.

He concludes his op-ed: "When carefully assessed, the acquisition of unnatural reproductive means often advances the interests of the very affluent through a libertarian exercise that would threaten all hope of democratic equality. In a depopulating world, the claim that there is a universal right to marry regardless of gender becomes a frightening ally of a claimed universal right to access to genetically engineered children. People should reject this claim by returning traditional marriage to its rightful place."

Kmiec's views run counter to those of Obama, who voiced his opposition to Proposition 8 in a letter addressed to San Francisco's Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club. "I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states," the Illinois senator wrote.

Contacted by The Advocate for comment, Obama campaign spokesperson Shin Inouye confirmed CBN's report, reiterated Obama's support for LGBT rights, and echoed the theme of diversity that Obama often trumpets himself.

"Senator Obama's position on LGBT equality is clear and he has consistently spoken out against proposals like Prop. 8 in California that would only hurt LGBT Americans," Inouye said. "Certainly our campaign -- and our country -- is open enough to allow people from all walks of life and ideologies to work together. We have many people who support Senator Obama but don't agree with all of his positions. But we all agree that Senator Obama will bring America the change we need."

Defeating Proposition 8 is one of the gay and lesbian community's top priorities in the 2008 election. A Field Poll released this week found that 55% of likely voters say they will vote against Proposition 8, while 38% support the ballot measure. But reports broke early this week that proponents of the marriage ban had raised $16 million, compared with $11 million for the No on 8 campaign.

The Obama campaign infuriated many LGBT activists last fall during the Democratic primary when "ex-gay" gospel singer Donnie McClurkin, who had made homophobic comments in the past, was allowed to headline a campaign gospel tour even after his statements came to light.

During that political firestorm, Obama granted an interview to The Advocate in which he responded to a question about whether McClurkin had been adequately vetted, "Obviously, not vetted to the extent that people were aware of his attitudes with respect to gays and lesbians, LGBT issues -- at least not vetted as well as I would have liked to see."

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