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Rev. Gregory Daniels

The Rev. Gregory Daniels says if he 'chose' not to be gay, so can others. And they should, he adds, because homosexuality is destroying black America.

CHICAGO — The Rev. Gregory Daniels walks into the South Side's famous Dixie Kitchen restaurant wearing a full-length chocolate mink coat and glass frames the icy blue color of toothpaste gel.

He knows why he's been asked for an interview and immediately delves into the sizzling declaration reported in The New York Times in February 2004: "If the KKK opposes gay marriage, I would ride with them."

It was quite a statement for a black man.

Despite what Daniels now describes as a mere "parable," the president of United Voters for Truth and Change (UVTC) says he does not hate LGBT people. After all, if it weren't for a few kind twists of fate, he says, he, too, could have turned out gay.

When he was a teenager, Daniels says, an older man repeatedly propositioned him with money for sex. The young Daniels was broke at the time, so he seriously considered the indecent proposal. His saving grace, he says, was a job offer that solved Daniels' financial problems. He told the older man to stop calling him.

That wasn't Daniels' only rejection of homosexuality, he says. As a child growing up among nine brothers and one sister, he usually chose to play with his sister and her paper dolls, rather than horsing around with his brothers. In high school, he adds, he was teased by the guys because he cooked and cleaned house for his mother.

One day, Daniels says he told his mother, "People are thinking I'm gonna be a sissy."

"Well, are you?" she replied.

At that point, Daniels explains, he chose not to be.

Today, Daniels says he doesn't believe that a "special interest" group — men who he believes simply adopted homosexuality — should be entitled to marriage rights. After all, he has been a heterosexual husband of 25 years, a man who "chose" to go straight.

Today, Gregory Daniels is a key player in the religiously based black anti-gay movement. As head of UVTC, his own religious right voter education organization, he has traveled around America, from the Midwest to Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is legal. He has made his way to Washington, D.C., to confront and lobby lawmakers on issues related to homosexuality.

And he has campaigned to bring more blacks into the Republican fold. During the last presidential campaign, he wrote on Beliefnet.com, a religious news website: "This is our mission — to help President George W. Bush change the wind of destruction to a new wind of freedom and justice for all."

The church that Daniels used to pastor, Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist, sits on a block on Chicago's South Side just across the street from one of relatively few still-standing high-rise public housing projects in America. The ground is littered with empty liquor bottles and patrolled by drug-addicted, drug-peddling teens, and an atmosphere of despair pervades the place. But Daniels doesn't stress drugs, alcohol and gangs as damaging to inner-city African Americans.

Homosexuality, he tells the Intelligence Report, "is what has destroyed the black community."

And what about Daniel's infamous statement about riding with the Klan? Daniels says with a chuckle that he hasn't heard from the men in white just yet. But he did get a provocative letter, he concedes, from a black woman. "What do you think they gonna do to you," she asked, "after the ride?"