Gay Groups Ask for Leniency in Lawrence King Murder
April 15th, 2008
A coalition of 27 LGBT activist organizations is urging the Ventura County, California District Attorney to charge 14-year old Brandon McInerney, Lawrence King’s murderer, as a juvenile. McInerney shot King, 15, point blank in the head on February 12th at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, California. With hate crime enhancements, McInerney faces up to 27 years in prison if he is charged as an adult. But citing an overall “climate of intolerance and fear about sexual orientation and expression,” the coalition feels that prosecuting McInerney as an adult would “compound this tragedy with another wrong.”
The press release, which is not yet available online, reads:
A coalition of 27 groups fighting for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights today is urging Ventura County prosecutors to try 14-year-old Brandon McInerney in juvenile court, and not as an adult. McInerney has been charged as an adult in the February 12 murder of his E.O. Green Middle School classmate, 15-year-old Lawrence King. Students say McInerney targeted King because the victim was openly gay and because he wore women’s jewellery and makeup.
LGBT civil rights organizations, including Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Transgender Law Center, have delivered a short statement to Ventura County District Attorney Gregory D. Totten, calling on him to try McInerney as a juvenile.
“We are saddened and outraged by the murder of junior high school student Lawrence King,” the statement reads. “At the same time, we call on prosecutors not to compound this tragedy with another wrong “we call on them to treat the suspect as a juvenile, not as an adult.
“The facts in this matter seem clear: one boy killed another in a climate of intolerance and fear about sexual orientation and gender expression. The alleged perpetrator, who turned 14 years old less than three weeks before the shooting, should be held accountable for his actions. But we support the principles underlying our juvenile justice system that treat children differently than adults and provide greater hope and opportunity for rehabilitation. In addition, public safety is not served by treating children as adults. According to research released by the Centers for Disease Control in 2006, children transferred to adult court are more likely to re-offend than those committing similar offenses who remain in the juvenile justice system. California law does not require District Attorneys to prosecute 14 year-olds as adults, even in circumstances such as these, and we oppose them doing so. We are issuing this joint statement because we believe so strongly in principles of justice that protect all our young people and know that, even in the face of strong emotions, we should not abandon them. We refuse to let our sense of outrage blind us to the fact that the suspect is only 14 years old.
“Prosecuting the alleged perpetrator as an adult will not bring Lawrence King back nor will it make schools safer for LGBT youth. We must respond to this tragedy by strengthening our resolve to change the climate in schools, eliminate bigotry based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and hold schools responsible for protecting students against discrimination and physical harm.”
The list of signatories include: American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California; American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties; American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California; Ally Action (CA); Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere (COLAGE; national); Community United Against Violence (San Francisco); Different Avenues (DC); Equality California; Gay Straight Alliance Network (CA); Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD); Human Rights Campaign; LAGAI – Queer Insurrection; Lambda Legal; LifeWorks Mentoring (Los Angeles); Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center; National Black Justice Coalition; National Center for Lesbian Rights; National Center for Transgender Equality; National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) National; Safe Schools Coalition; San Francisco LGBT Community Center; Sylvia Rivera Law Project (New York); TGI Justice Project (CA); Transgender Law Center; The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (NY); TransYouth Family Allies, Inc.
Why Does Focus Fear the Snakeywolves?
January 23rd, 2008
This spring, Soulforce will follow their successful campaign to bring awareness to conservative campuses with a campaign to bring Good News to evangelical mega-churches. They have identified six pastors and churches that they wish to approach and seek dialog:
• Rev. Joel Osteen and the Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas
• Bishop T.D. Jakes and The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas
• Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr. and Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland
• Bishop Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia
• Rev. Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois
• Dr. Rick Warren and Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California
They have sent letters to each of these pastors
The letters inform each pastor that a delegation of families with two moms and two dads, as well as supportive heterosexual-parent and single-parent families, plans to visit each church. The letters invite their congregations to collaborate in creating opportunities for meaningful conversations. Over the next several weeks, staff from Soulforce, UFMCC, NBJC, and COLAGE will negotiate peaceful forums with members from each of the congregations.
Some might think that such efforts are futile, but history shows us that it if we don’t speak to those who oppose us we cannot have any hope of influencing them. And we have also seen some who have been willing to allow God to shift their thinking on issues surrounding sexual orientation.
Polls have also shown that those who are familiar with gay people are far more likely to support gay civil equality. We also know that it is far easier to condemn the person whom you don’t know than it is to look someone in the face and offer them cruelty.
Perhaps it is the potential for true communication that has frightened Focus on the Family. FOTF’s Caleb Price has sent out a warning against the churches meeting with or listening to Soulforce. And Price expresses his concerns in the most fearful and demonizing of ways.
“As with any temptation to disregard God’s clear word on any given matter, this attempt by Soulforce and their allies is a classic example of what we see in Genesis Chapter 3, when the serpent tempts Eve by [asking] ‘Did God really say …?’” says Price. “And I think perhaps the biggest lesson we can take from that account is it’s best not to talk to snakes. Scripture clearly teaches that there will be a great falling away in the last days and there will be wolves in sheep’s clothing who will try to enter into the fold and deceive even the elect.”
Portraying Soulforce as snakes and wolves (or perhaps snakeywolves), Price seeks to keep churches from seeing Soulforce’s members as human, as children of God. Accusing them of being tempters to a false doctrine, Price aligns Soulforce with forces of evil.
“These churches that have been targeted by Soulforce need to be clear about the real agenda behind these staged actions,” he says. “It’s not for dialogue and greater understanding — it’s to tempt them to embrace a false doctrine, which will keep many from the gospel message of hope and transformation for those who are trapped in homosexuality.”
However, there is hope that with such obvious and blatant fear-mongering, Price’s efforts may not be effective. We have faith to believe that some within the mega-churches will be able see beyond snakeywolves and emissaries of Satan and will hear the message brought by sincere and devout Christians seeking to spread the Good News of a loving and inclusive God.