Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

East Texas Gay Basher Gets 10 Years for Savage Attack

Mickey Jo Smith, convicted of anti-gay hate crime in East Texas.

Paris, Texas – The second of three defendants in the Reno, Texas homophobic hate crime attack on a gay man received a 10 year sentence after pleading no contest to the charges against him. Mickey Jo Smith, 25, took his medicine for participating in the savage beating and burning of 28-year-old Burke Burnett that took place after an October 30, 2011 Halloween gathering gone seriously wrong.  Smith offered no defense Tuesday against charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, plus a hate crime enhancement, as reported in the Dallas Voice.

Burnett, who suffered multiple bruises, stab wounds, and cuts from a broken beer bottle, plus second degree burns from being bodily dumped in a blazing trash barrel, offered this statement on Wednesday to the Voice: “I am grateful and comforted to hear of the sentencing of Micky Joe Smith. So many people who have endured similar experiences of hate crimes have not been afforded the opportunity to see justice served. The gay community in North Texas is a safer place today.”

In February, James Mitchell Laster, 32, pled no contest, and was sentenced to eight years in prison for his part in the hate crime.  The third suspect in the attack, Daniel Shawn Martin, 33, who like the other defendants yelled homophobic slurs at his gay victim while prosecuting his assault, was scheduled to face trial on Wednesday, but according to court officials, his day in court has been postponed.

Texas prosecutors have been reluctant to invoke the state’s hate crimes law in cases involving gay or lesbian victims.  The fact that both men convicted in this brutal example of homophobia have been sentenced with a hate crimes enhancement is significant–perhaps indicating that the LGBTQ community’s protests have been heard by state and local officials.

April 19, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slashing attacks, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dharun Ravi, Clementi’s Spying Roommate Found Guilty of Anti-Gay Intimidation

Dharun Ravi (l), found guilty of cyber-spying and bias intimidation against his gay roommate, Tyler Clementi (r).

New Brunswick, New Jersey – Dharun Ravi was found guilty today on the vast majority of counts for spying on his Rutgers roommate’s gay intimacies in 2010.  ABC News reports that Ravi remained emotionless as the jury brought back its verdict in one of the most closely watched anti-bullying trials in United States history.  He was found guilty of  invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering, and hindering arrest due to his actions setting up a spy-cam to record a gay tryst between his freshman roommate, Tyler Clementi, and a same-sex lover on September 19, 2010.  Ravi was also found guilty of prompting others to spy on Clementi during a second tryst on September 21, 2010, and of intimidating his roommate for being gay.  He was found not guilty of some subparts of the 15 counts of bias intimidation, attempted invasion of privacy, and attempted bias intimidation, but needed only to be found guilty of one part of each count to be convicted. Ravi, who is 20, could face a sentence of five to ten years for his crimes.  Because he is a citizen of India in the United States on a Green Card, he could also face deportation.

Behind the proceedings, the suicide of Tyler Clementi loomed like a dark cloud.  Clementi was distressed when he found out that he had been videoed in his own room and exposed for being gay. His death by drowning after leaping from the George Washington Bridge on September 22, 2010, and the connections between his suicide and Ravi’s use of the spy-cam to invade his privacy and intimidate him for his sexual orientation made international news.  Clementi’s death, one of a long list of gay intimidation suicides, burst on the national scene with long-delayed urgency, calling attention to the loss of so many young lives to school and university brutality and intimidation.

Over the course of the 12-day trial, Ravi’s defense team argued that he was not homophobic in action or intent, and that his actions were those of an immature person who saw a chance to make fun of someone different.  They also argued that Ravi’s use of a spy-cam was to monitor Clementi’s male guest, whom Ravi felt was “sketchy,” according to reports in USA Today.  The jury did not buy the explanation.  As the verdict was read, Ravi’s mother burst into tears, and his father took notes about the particulars of the findings.  Ravi will be sentenced on May 21.

Tyler Clementi’s family spoke briefly at a press conference following the verdict.  They praised the work of the court, and affirmed how important this trial was to them, though they did not refer directly to the verdict or the case.  The family will now be able to return to their Ridgewood, New Jersey home in the knowledge that some justice has finally been done for their shy, musically gifted son.

March 16, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Bullying in schools, cyber voyeurism, gay teens, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, LGBTQ suicide, New Jersey, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Social Justice Advocacy, suicide | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gay University Student Attacked, Raped, Barely Escapes with His Life

Keire Gartica, 25, Gay Hate Crime victim, recovering from his wounds.

Corpus Christi, Texas – A gay university student says he was captured, beaten for hours, raped, and would surely have died if he had not escaped his assailants through a window.  Keire Gartica, 25, a Texas A&M Corpus Christi Political Science student, was found naked and bleeding from multiple wounds on Thursday after his harrowing escape.  The police took him to a hospital where he was treated and released.  Gartica says his attackers, two Hispanic men in their 20s or 30s, held him hostage and repeatedly assaulted him, calling him racial and homophobic slurs, after he came by their house on Elizabeth Street to repay a $5 debt he owed them.

KRIS TV News reports that police are treating the investigation as a simple assault until the District Attorney makes a determination on hate crimes charges.  Gartica, in the meanwhile, has left Corpus Christi for his home in another locale to recover from his wounds.  According to his Facebook page, authorities are “dragging their feet,” and police have not yet interviewed him about the heinous hate crime which took place almost a week ago.  On Sunday, Gartica posted: “I was the victim of a heinous hate crime that has rendered me a shell of myself. Action ten news in Corpus is covering the story and I conducted an extended interview that airs tonight at ten. There is also footage of me immediately after my escape thursday night on the action ten site… the people responsible for this will be held accountable and brought to justice.”

The attack was prolonged and brutal.  Gartica told KZTV 10  reporters that he was forced to clean the house naked by his assailants, who beat him with a belt buckle, glass cups, a frying pan, a pistol, and their fists while he complied in fear of his life.  At one point, an attacker threw bleach in his eyes, blinding him. The men debased him racially, and violated him sexually with a variety of items.  Gartica is certain he would not be alive today if he had not taken a chance and jumped out of a window.

Now Gartica, shaken by his ordeal, has lost his sense of security. He says he will not feel safe again until his attackers are apprehended and are behind bars.  As he said in a telephone interview for Six News, “I don’t feel right at all. It’s hard to fathom that this actually happened. It doesn’t seem like this actually happened.”  Though Gartica is appreciative of the outpouring of support for him by friends and classmates all over the state of Texas, he posted on his Facebook page,“It has been almost a week. I just feel powerless.”

March 14, 2012 Posted by | African Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latinos, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, rape, Sexual assault, Slurs and epithets, Texas, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gay Tulsa Teen Savagely Attacked at House Party

Cody Rogers, 18, after his hate crime beating this weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Tulsa, Oklahoma – A gay 18-year-old gay man, stepping in to keep a girl from being beaten by homophobes this weekend, was pinned down and beaten unconscious at a South Tulsa house party.  Cody Rogers, who had come out only 18 months ago, was told that the hands of the Tulsa Police Department “are tied” when it comes to hate crimes against gay people, since Oklahoma does not protect LGBTQ people from violence in its law code. Rogers’ attackers have been charged with simple assault, according to Fox News 23.  His friend, Jordan Garrett, said, “I believe 100 per cent this was a hate crime.”  Garrett went on to say, “They were just so angry just over someone’s sexual orientation that they would do something like this. (Cody) looked as if a truck hit him.”  The Fox news story on the bashing drew so many violent and abusive remarks online, the website has blocked all comments.

His assailants objected to gays being invited to the party by the host, and flew into a violent rage at one of the gay men’s female friends, yelling “Where are the f**king faggots?”  Continuing to yell epithets against gay people, one of the angry men began to assault Rogers’ 21-year-old girl friend, causing Rogers to intervene.  Rogers says that when he pulled the man off of the young woman, the man’s friends joined him in knocking Rogers down, stomping and beating him until he became unconscious.

As the Dallas Voice reports, Oklahoma is one of 19 states that refuse so far to include sexual orientation as a protected class.  In states where hate crimes legislation is on the books, what happened to Rogers would probably be charged and prosecuted as a felony.  The Unfinished Lives Project first got word of this hate crime through Facebook posts.  Rogers and his friends have now put up pictures of his ravaged face and chest on a Facebook page, Help Stop the Stomping, designed to spark change in Tulsa. Rogers courageously told Fox 23, “I am not ashamed as to what happened. I am proud to stand here and show the bruises.”  As his story goes viral around the web, Cody is mending physically and emotionally at home.

Toby Jenkins of Oklahomans for Equality says that attacks of this severity are unusual in Tulsa, but the law must be changed to protect LGBTQ people so that something like this will never occur again. The state, he said, is “behind the times.” 

February 29, 2012 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, gay men, gay teens, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Oklahoma, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

East Texas Gay Basher Sentenced to 8 Years

James Mitchell Laster III, sentenced to eight years for gay bashing.

Lamar County, Texas – The first of three accused gay bashers has been sentenced to eight years in prison by a Paris, Texas court on Thursday, February 23, following a plea bargain agreement.  As reported in the Dallas Voice, James Mitchell Laster, 33, pled guilty to assault with a deadly weapon in the October 30, 2011 attack on Burke Burnett, a gay man who was attending a pre-Halloween party with friends at the time of the hate crime assault.  Burnett, 26, was beaten, bruised, and burned when Laster and two other men yelling anti-gay slurs bodily threw him into a burning garbage barrel because he was gay.  The story made national news because of the graphic nature of Burnett’s injuries.  Gary Young, Lamar County District Attorney, released at statement to the Paris News, saying that Laster also pled guilty to the hate crime enhancement charge lodged against him for his role in the brutal attack.  Laster will have to serve at least four years of his sentence before he becomes eligible for parole.

25-year-old Micky Joe Smith of Brookston, and 33-year-old Daniel Shawn Martin of Paris are still in jail pending trial for their part in the savage gay bashing of Burnett, who received 3o stitches to close his wounds, and suffered second-degree burns over a good portion of his body from being thrown in the burning trash barrel.  Burnett, who now lives in Houston, was unavailable for comment on the sentence at the time of this report.

Significantly, this case is one of the few recent instances when the Texas hate crimes law has been invoked in sentencing. The Austin American-Statesman reported in January 2012 that the Texas statute has had “little effect” in prosecuting bias-motivated crimes in the Lone Star State.  Since the law was passed in 2001, there have been no fewer than 2000 cases in the state which were bias-motivated, yet the hate crimes statute was invoked in only ten of these prosecutions.  The reluctance of Texas prosecutors to use the hate crimes statute stands in sharp contrast to California, where prosecutors filed hate crimes charges in 230 cases in 2010 alone, and New York, where around a dozen hate crimes are prosecuted a year.  The use of the Texas hate crime law in the Laster sentencing may set a precedent for its use by prosecutors in the two remaining trials stemming from the Burnett gay bashing.

February 28, 2012 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Atlanta Gay Bashing Victim Indicts Homophobic “Monsters” for Brutal Attack

Homophobes attack gay 20-year-old Atlantan, Brandon White, Saturday, February 4 (Surveillance video capture).

Atlanta, Georgia – Brandon White was going to stay silent about the brutal attack of three, epithet-screaming attackers who assaulted him in broad daylight–until his assailants posted a video online bragging about what they did to him.  Three members of a gang named “1029 Jack City” took their homophobic rage out on Brandon White, 20, outside a southwest Atlanta convenience store on February 4.  Yelling “No Faggots in Jack City!” the trio threw a tire carcass at White, knocked him to the sidewalk, and repeatedly slapped and kicked him–all in the the presence of several bystanders who can be heard laughing and encouraging the assault in the video’s soundtrack.  The attack was a set-up so that the assault could be captured on video to allow the homophobes to revel in their barbarity.  But though tens of thousands have viewed the short clip on YouTube (which may be accessed here), the incident sparked outrage around the world at the unprovoked hatefulness of the assault.

White felt compelled to overcome his embarrassment and humiliation when so many began speaking out against the crime done him.  At a press conference called this Wednesday by leaders of the Pittsburgh area of Atlanta where the attack took place, White called for justice for himself and for all victims of anti-gay hate crimes.  The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that White called his attackers “monsters,” and said, “”If a straight person walks into a store and I have a problem, I should be able to do the same thing. I shouldn’t have to worry about if I should have to look over my shoulder, or if this person is going to attack me, or if that person is going to attack me, for just being a gay male.”  Encouraged by newfound support, White went on to urge victims of hate crimes to come forward the report them.  “Don’t wait until it’s too late to report it. Don’t hide it.”  White acknowledged that the beating made him fear for his life, and still does.  “The scars run deeper than anyone will know,” he said. “The physical pain, I can get over that. My thing is: Who’s to say they won’t come after me again? Who’s to say they won’t kill me?”

Three men were identified as the assailants, and one of them, Christopher Cain, was arrested on February 11 in DeKalb County and charged with aggravated assault and robbery. Cain is being held in the Fulton County Jail pending his arraignment. A $15,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the other two attackers.  The FBI is co-operating in the investigation under the provisions of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, since Georgia does not have a state statute making anti-gay hate crimes punishable.  Activists and lawmakers see this widely-known outrage as an opportunity to introduce hate crimes protections in the state.

February 13, 2012 Posted by | African Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, FBI, Gang violence, gay bashing, gay men, Georgia, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Transgender Woman of Color Slain in D.C.

Deoni Jones, 23, died of a stab wound to the face.

Washington, D.C.  The Washington Blade reports that over 200 attended a Tuesday vigil for a slain transgender woman at the bus stop where she died just the week before.  Members of the family of the victim, Deoni Jones, appealed to the large crowd to help develop leads for the police, an appeal that appears to have borne fruit.

Ms. Jones, 23, was waiting for a bus at approximately 8:15 p.m. on February 2 when a male stepped forward and stabbed her in the face, a wound the autopsy report says was the fatal blow.  The suspect was caught on a surveillance video, and according to breaking news from WJLA.com, Metropolitan Police have arrested 55-year-old Gary Niles Montgomery and charged him as Jones’s alleged murderer.  It has not yet been determined whether anti-transgender hate crimes charges will also be filed against Montgomery. He appeared in court for his arraignment on February 11, and is being held without bail.  His preliminary hearing is scheduled for February 24.

This horrible attack is the third murder of a transgender woman in Washington, D.C. in a little over a year.  The two previous transphobic murders remain unsolved, and the city’s transgender community has called for more comprehensive protection.

February 12, 2012 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, stabbings, transgender persons, transphobia, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, Vigils, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Homophobe Stabs Gay Waiter at Denny’s; Gets Big Jail Time

Curtis Martin, convicted for brutal homophobic stabbing (KCOY image).

Santa Maria, California – A 25-year-old man pled no contest on Wednesday to the attempted murder of a gay waiter, and received a 26-years-to-life sentence for the homophobic hate crime attack.  Curtis Martin gained entrance to Denny’s Restaurant on East Main Street in Santa Maria just before opening time on a day in mid-September 2010 on the pretense of using the restroom.  Once inside, Martin asked a waiter whether he was gay, and then stabbed him twice, once on the side of the neck and then in his throat, according to Central Coast News. Witnesses testified that Martin was yelling anti-gay epithets at his victim as he carried out the brutal attack.  He fled in a car, but Santa Maria Police apprehended him within a few blocks of the restaurant.  The victim survived, and is still recovering from the aftermath of his wounds.

Mercury News reports that Martin was charged with a hate crime which enhanced his sentence for attempted murder with a deadly weapon.  No other motive has been uncovered for the crime than irrational hatred of someone he perceived to be gay.  The assailant and his victim did not know each other prior to the savage attack. As Instinct Magazine suggests, now even an American dining icon like Denny’s is no longer exempt from hate crimes against LGBTQ people. We at Unfinished Lives hope Martin serves his full sentence.  No one should have to fear going out to eat because of their sexual orientation.

February 11, 2012 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, California, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, stabbings | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Our Pets are First Victims of Right-Wing Hate: Response to Arkansas Cat Murder

Pet cat killed because of hate. Picture provided by Blue Arkansas who wrote: "It is included here not for shock value, but to show just how heinous some people can be."

Russellville, Arkansas – Jake Burris, campaign manager for Democratic Congressional candidate Ken Aden, came home with his four children to find their pet cat slaughtered on the front porch.  “LIBERAL” was scrawled in magic marker on the lifeless body. In a clear example of terrorism, the innocent animal had been bashed in the head and left so that it could not be missed by Burris, who is locked in a tight campaign struggle against a right-wing Republican opponent to elect his candidate to the U.S. House of Representatives.  But instead of Burris finding the carcass of the family pet before his children, his little boy found their kitty first.  Blue Arkansas wrote movingly about this atrocity:

“This is terrorism.  There’s no other word for it.  A police report has been filed.  Jake said the kids seem to be handling it okay.  The one that discovered the cat was too young to be able to read and Jake had quickly gotten the others into the house before they saw it.  Pope County is an insanely conservative area and the Aden campaign has been shaking things up even there and it looks like another right wing sociopath with a taste for violence has come crawling out of the woodwork in response.  I asked Aden for a comment on the record:

‘“This is sickening.  To kill a child’s pet…I’m at a loss for words…I’ve seen the best and the worst of humanity, but this is something else.”’

Defenseless, innocent victims pay the price of hate ideology and violence first–our pets.  Violence against human victims is underreported, but statistics on this dimension of hate violence are non-existent. The numbers of pets slain in hate killings must be astronomical. Political liberals, progressives, LGBTQ people, women, racial/ethnic minorities have all experienced the terrible shock, anger, and raw fear Jake Burris and his family faced yesterday at the hands of irrational hate groups who send a message of terror by killing cats, dogs, birds and other family pets.

The murder of pet animals is often a prelude to anti-human violence.  Gay man Charlie Howard found his cat dead on the front steps of his apartment in Bangor, Maine with its neck broken shortly before a gang of Bangor’s youth threw him off the State Street Bridge. Friends of Charlie’s said that after he found his cat killed, he became depressed and fearful. He had every reason to be, as it turned out. Charlie drowned in Kenduskeag Stream because three boys hated him because of his sexual orientation.  The pet killing was a telegraphic message of homophobia, sent from people who warmed up to killing Charlie by taking the life of his companion.

I know the feeling that terrorized Charlie Howard and that the Jake Burris and his family face now.  In the early 1990’s, I came home from pastoral hospital visits to parishioners to find my English Bulldog Buck and my Basset Hound Beau butchered, hanging up in a tree in my Eastern NC parsonage yard.  Anonymous opponents suspected I was gay, and tried to drive me out of the church I was serving by slaughtering my pets.  In those days, I lived a single, closeted life, serving churches with the fear of discovery of my sexual orientation. My dogs were my only companions, and paid the ultimate price because cowards thought I would run.  I did not run.  I stayed at the church and fought back successfully.  But the loss is still with me.

Reuters reports that the campaign of Republican incumbent Steve Womack, Aden’s opponent in the heavily conservative 3rd District of Arkansas, has condemned the killing of Burris’s cat.  Candidate Aden and Burris said they do not believe anyone in the Womack campaign perpetrated the crime.  The Russellville Police Department is treating this incident as an animal cruelty case, and the investigation is ongoing. But the fact remains that the atmosphere of irrational hatred propounded by unreasoning prejudice is lethal.

Jake Burris told Blue Arkansas, “I’ve got a gun and I know how to use it. If I have to protect my kids I’ll do it without hesitation.”  

We have a duty to all life to find a cure for hate.  Our pets pay as terrible a price as we do because of hate violence.  Perhaps the shock of a story like this can awaken the consciences of our neighbors to work with us to create a world safe for all creatures to live without fear.    ~ Stephen V. Sprinkle, Founder and Director of the Unfinished Lives Project, Associate Prof at Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, Texas

January 23, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Arkansas, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Pet killings, Slurs and epithets, Special Comments, transphobia, U.S. House of Representatives | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wisconsin Queer Bashing Suspects Face Trial; Gay Panic Excuse Put to Test

PJ's Bar, Oshkosh, scene of brutal Christmas Day queer bashing (Facebook image)

Oshkosh, Wisconsin – Two suspects arrested in the bashing of a gay man outside a gay bar on Christmas Day will go to trial, according to reports from WTAQ News Talk.   Lyall Ziebell and Jacob “Jake” Immel-Rhode, both 20, waived their preliminary hearings on January 5. Ziebell entered no plea, and will face arraignment on January 12. Immel-Rhode pled not guilty to all charges, and is due back in court for a pre-trial conference on February 1. The alleged attackers are charged with battery causing great bodily harm, and burglary.  The battery charge for both men also carried a hate crime modifier, which increases the penalties for the crimes, if found guilty. If the maximum penalty is invoked, each man could serve 23-and-a-half years in prison and face $40,000 in fines.

The police complaint states that Immel-Rhode and Ziebell agreed to give a cigarette to the victim in exchange for a shot of liquor at PJ’s bar on Oregon Street in Oshkosh just before 2 a.m. on Christmas Day.  When the three men came out of the bar to smoke, the attack started almost immediately.  Ziebell, who characterized himself as “very homophobic,” hit the victim so hard he collapsed on a car hood, and then fell to the pavement, where Immel-Rhode set upon him, kicking the helpless man while shouting that he was a “stupid faggot.” The alleged assailants excused their actions because they say the victim “tried to hit on” Ziebell who threw the first punch. The complaint further states that the pair robbed a Mexican market on the way home to Ziebell’s house, stealing money and pre-paid cell phones.

The victim suffered a broken jaw and injury to his brain from the brutal attack, and underwent emergency surgery.  He was then admitted to Intensive Care.  Recently, he was released from the hospital to recuperate at home, and to deal with the emotional trauma of the assault.

The Wisconsin Gazette reports that James Combs, a friend of the victim, has started a petition on Change.org calling attention to the hate crime, and urging Winnebago County Assistant D.A. Adam Levine, Democratic State Senator Jessica King, and others in authority to make sure justice is done in this case, including pursuit of hate crimes charges.  The petition can be accessed by clicking here. Combs told the Gazette, “We really need to draw attention to this kind of thing. People have not really grown accustomed to gay people, and there is still violence and horrible things happening.”  He also said that a fund to help pay the victim’s hospital expenses is being set up.

Among the most important aspects of this case is the gay panic excuse the attackers gave for their violence against a gay man. In the gay panic defense, alleged homophobic assailants rely upon latent negative feelings in the general public to cloud the issue of the crime, and to lessen popular anger at their deeds.  The illogic of the gay panic excuse turns justice on its head: the victim is put under the spotlight, insinuating that he or she was somehow responsible or “had it coming” when violence is perpetrated against them. In its more extreme forms, the innuendo implies that the victims actually went out seeking punishment for their “perverse lifestyle.” When used in court, as by all indications will be done in this case, defense attorneys count on anti-gay prejudice buried in jurors to buy acquittal or a lesser sentence for their clients. Sadly, this has worked in the recent past in American courts, an amazing outcome in the 21st century. James Combs says in the narrative for the Change.org petition,  Hate Crime Tolerance in Wisconsin, “We need to let lawmakers know that Gay Panic Defense will never fly as an excuse, and any jury would agree. Let’s make sure they receive the full sentence.”

The gay panic defense is a discredited, out-of-date, and outworn attempt to sully the character of LGBTQ victims of hate crimes, and to obstruct justice.  No victim deserves physical attacks for being gay or lesbian in the United States of America. Neither should any victim of an anti-gay hate crime face the burden of emotional distress and public shame by having his character brought into question–an irrelevant point in cases such as these. For defendants to present such a “justification” for their actions in an American courtroom should, by itself, increase the penalty of law for false accusation.

January 8, 2012 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, gay bashing, gay men, gay panic defense, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Wisconsin | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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