US Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama has issued a statement affirming his pro-gay stance and distancing himself from an ally’s views.

Obama has been criticised for aligning himself with gospel singer Donnie McClurkin, who is set to raise funds for the senator’s presidential bid at an upcoming concert. McClurkin has previously stated that he does not approve of homosexuality.

In response to calls to distance himself from McClurkin, on Monday Obama published a statement on his website:

“I have clearly stated my belief that gays and lesbians are our brothers and sisters and should be provided the respect, dignity, and rights of all other citizens. I have consistently spoken directly to African-American religious leaders about the need to overcome the homophobia that persists in some parts of our community so that we can confront issues like HIV/AIDS and broaden the reach of equal rights in this country.”

He went to add, “I strongly believe that African Americans and the LGBT community must stand together in the fight for equal rights. And so I strongly disagree with Reverend McClurkin’s views and will continue to fight for these rights as President of the United States to ensure that America is a country that spreads tolerance instead of division.”

McClurkin has claimed that he struggled with his sexuality but that he has been cured of homosexual urges. Writing in his book, Eternal Victim, Eternal Victor, the singer said: “The abnormal use of my sexuality continued until I came to realise that I was broken and that homosexuality was not God’s intention… for my masculinity.”

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