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June 16, 2010

Would you accept an endorsement from this man?

Would y1WilsonWillieou accept an endorsement from this man? Why does Clark Ray? 

But … women falling down on another woman, strapping yourself up with something, it ain't real. That thing ain't got no feeling in it. It ain't natural. Anytime somebody got to slap some grease on your behind and stick something in you, it's something wrong with that. Your butt ain't made for that.

No wonder your behind is bleeding. You can't make no connection with a screw and another screw. The Bible says God made them male and female." --Rev. Willie Wilson

Listen to Willie Wilson's Sermon

The sermon is not appropriate near children or in workplaces. It was delivered in a church.

Some political candidates can't help but make really stupid mistakes and touting them as victories. Sometimes they are naive. Sometimes they are just pandering to one group while alienating others.

At-Large Council candidate Clark Ray has unfortunately been boasting about his endorsement by Rev. Willie F. Wilson of the Union Temple Baptist Church. Wilson has a long history of race-baiting and hateful anti-gay rhetoric. Ray should be rejecting this endorsement and the association with Wilson's hateful rhetoric.

Wilson led an 1986 boycott of an Asian-owned takeout near his church after he said a member of his flock had been “disrespected” by a store owner. When asked by the press whether his demands that an African-American be allowed to run the business inflamed racial tensions, Wilson replied that if Anacostia residents had been less forgiving of the store owner, “we would have cut his head off and rolled it down the street.” --Washington City Paper

Wilson is also a master of religious tolerance.
... Wilson was preaching racial and cultural harmony to nearly 2,000 clergy and members of Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, and Muslim congregations. But his rambling 30-minute speech, which ran twice as long as scheduled, was often defiant and sometimes divisive, as he railed against “feeble, fake, phony ecumenical gatherings.” He told the assembled religious representatives that many of them “have become psychological, spiritual, philosophical, and intellectual masturbators,” a line he likes to use on unsuspecting audiences. --Washington City Paper

Clark Ray is probably touting this endorsement to get support in the Ward 8 Democrats straw poll on Saturday. Wilson does have some support. He represents a large church. He is Marion Barry's on-again off-again minister, and has defended all manner of illegal and immoral behavior by Barry. Wilson has benefited from Barry's popularity, and Barry from Wilson's veneer of religiosity.

Ray should be ashamed of associating himself with Wilson. Instead he is rather proud of it. On a small scale, this is akin to Elton John singing at Rush Limbaugh's wedding. It denigrates both men. Let's hope that the voters remember this in September. D.C. doesn't need a councilmember who embraces hate. D.C. doesn't need another Marion Barry.


Here is the full text of the recorded speech in the lede:

… We live in a time when our brothers have been so put down, can’t get a job, lot of the sisters making more money than brothers. And it’s creating problems in families. That’s one of the reasons our families’ breaking up. And that’s one of the reasons many of our women are becoming lesbians.

You got to be careful when you say you don’t need no man.

I can make it by myself. Well, if you don’t need a man, what’s left?

Lesbianism is about to take over our community. I’m talking about young girls.

My son in high school last year, trying to go to the prom, he said, ‘Dad, I ain’t got nobody to take to the prom because all the girls in my class are gay. There ain’t but two of them straight and both of them are ugly. I ain’t got nobody to take to the prom.’

Now, can I talk here for a moment? I ain’t homophobic, because everybody in here got something wrong with him. Whoever you point at, you can point at your own self. You got something wrong with your life. But when you get down to this thing, women falling down on another woman, strapping yourself up with something, it ain’t real. That thing ain’t got no feeling in it. It ain’t natural. Any time somebody got to slap some grease on your behind, and stick something in you, it’s something wrong with that. Your butt ain’t made for that.

[Audience shouts and yells its approval in the background.]

You got blood vessels and membranes in your behind. And if you put something unnatural in there, it breaks them all up. No wonder your behind is bleeding. It’s destroying us.

Can’t make no connection with a screw and another screw.

The Bible says God made them male and female. The Hebrew word "neged," which means complementary nature — there is something unique to man and unique to woman and it takes those two things to complement each other. You can’t make a connection with two screws. It takes a screw and a nut!


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What the author--a vocal supporter of, and financial donor to, Ray's opponent--left out:

- Wilson has apologized for that sermon (which I agree of course was deeply hurtful and offensive).

- If you want to protect and advance the gains we've made as LGBT residents of this city, you can't do it by sitting comfortably in NW. You have to build new bridges of mutual understanding and respect--and I'm glad that Clark, an openly gay man, is able to make connections such as this across the city's many divides.

As an openly gay man, and a supporter of Clark's, I decided to attend this endorsement this morning. And I know this endorsement is the result of a sincere spiritual belief by Clark, and Rev. Wilson, that people have to come together when and where they can. This is progress, regardless of the author's personal political alliances.

Joel, what a load of patronizing b.s. Let's see how this reasoning works for you and your candidate.

On August 2, 2005, in an op-ed piece titled "Sermons Without Stereotypes" Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson had this to say about the Rev. Willie Wilson's apology:

"Wilson noted both his record and his intention in an apology he
finally issued, after a month of attacks by gay activists and
chatter on black radio stations. "I am not homophobic, nor am I
antifeminist," Wilson said in the statement posted on the Union
Temple Web site. "To any and all whom I offended . . . I sincerely
and most profusely apologize."

I believe Wilson when he says he was trying to address the crisis
in the black family, and I agree that there is no greater
challenge facing black America. But later in his apology he
strayed once again into terra incognita, maintaining that black
girls are "engaging in same-sex relations" at "an alarming rate
all over the nation," and that "many girls . . . have been
threatened and intimidated into participating by same-sex girls'

On Aug. 3, in an article titled "D.C. Pastor Again Assails Lesbianism; Web Posting Describes 'Severe Crisis' for Blacks" Post reporters Lori Montgomery and Hamil Harris provide this additional quote from Wilson's online apology:

"But I do not apologize for bringing to the forefront a very
critical and crucial issue facing our young girls. Though many
clergy, parents, school administrators, teachers, community and
youth workers are aware of this very serious situation, no one
has addressed it."

As apologies go, this is clearly insufficient. In fact, the additional comments only serve to reinforce the misogyny and homophobia evident in the original sermon.

I am all for building bridges across cultures and demographics--but anyone from the gay and lesbian community should be exceptionally wary about embracing a "man of God" with such a tarnished and divisive record. Further, Wilson's denying black gay author and activist Keith Boykin a speaking role at the Millions More Movement March in October 2005 does not give one confidence that the preacher has changed his tune.

As the old adage goes, "Once, shame on you; twice, shame on me." Unless there are more recent demonstrations of the Rev. Willie Wilson's expressing regret and remorse for his statements--and subsequent actions on his part to make direct and meaningful amends to the LGBT community--I believe that Clark Ray should neither have sought nor accepted the pastor's endorsement.

Mitch, thanks for posting that. Joel's peculiar snark notwithstanding, Mr. Ray will learn soon enough that bigotry is not solely a concern of people in Northwest.

Has Willie Wilson been involved at all in opposing marriage equality in DC? I've done a little searching and haven't found any evidence he has been.

Clark Ray has now posted a video from the endorsement:

Keith I agree with what Clark said at the beginning of his campaign, and that was a focus on what we'd all have to do, as residents of the city together, esp. after marriage was made a reality: "a future where our houses of faith are drawn further into the common purpose of all our people, rather than drawn to the barricades for or against anyone’s equal rights."

As the son of two deeply religious parents, both very active and esteemed in their denomination, but of sharply differing views on LGBT issues, that spoke to me. What should everyone from residents to church and city leaders actually do, now? I like and support what Clark Ray is doing here, I genuinely do. It's progress, and we all know that real progress can be uncomfortable.

Marriage has been made a reality for now, but I don't think we're out of the woods yet. There are still people in some churches and (more important) in Congress who want to undo what's been accomplished. I was only asking whether Wilson might be one of those people. Considering his past statements, that's not an unreasonable question.

I am on the steering committee of a project to do marriage-equality-related education in the District, including outreach to African Americans and faith community members. Achieving breakthroughs does indeed require traveling through uncomfortable territory. One uncomfortable truth that Joel resists confronting is that Rev. Wilson is not a reliable partner for the purpose of social healing, in that Wilson is one of our city's most notorious dividers. Yes, of course that very fact would make him a fine choice for starting on the path of healing, were there reason to believe he's had a serious change of heart. In the Christian tradition in which I was raised, forgiveness requires repentance, which requires more than a phony, opportunistic apology.

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