10-28-2016  2:51 pm      •     

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama's campaign held a hurriedly put together conference call Thursday night with gay and lesbian leaders in South Carolina to discuss the candidate's gospel tour, which includes a singer who says homosexuality is a choice.
Obama campaign spokesman Kevin Griffis refused to talk about what was discussed on the call with Steve Hildebrand, Obama's early voting state strategist, and Joshua DuBois, who runs faith programs for the campaign.
Afterward, the South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Pride Movement decided to hold a vigil outside the Sunday concert in Columbia to protest gospel singer Donnie McClurkin, said Tony Snell, the group's past president.
Snell listened to the call and said ll he heard was talking points and the campaign wasn't budging on McClurkin.
"This guy has a reputation. He has a past. It's well known," Snell said. "You guys should have researched this out," Snell said of the Obama campaign.
Snell said the call ended with the 15 gay and lesbian leaders making a final appeal to Hildebrand and DuBois to talk to Obama. "Please ask him one more time to stop Donnie McClurkin's appearance at Sunday's event," Snell said.
Griffis said McClurkin won't be booted from the program.
"The Obama campaign is trying to bridge real divides and bring people together. Two things are certain: We will never be able to bridge those divides if we are unwilling to listen to voices we don't agree with, and we will never change anyone's mind if we refuse to talk to him," Griffs said in a statement.
Obama's campaign invited the Rev. Andy Sidden, a South Carolina pastor who is openly gay, to appear at the same concert. But Snell said that doesn't right the program.
McClurkin is a Grammy Award winner who performed at the Republican National Convention in 2004. He told AP Radio in an interview that September that he was "once involved with those desires and those thoughts," but God turned him away from them.
Obama has spoken out against homophobia, including in the black community. He supports civil unions for same-sex couples but not the right for gay marriage.

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