Gay What ?
Rest of site back up shortly!

Murder of cross-dresser in Belize sparks outrage

Belize, gay news, Washington Blade

Belize (Photo by Greg Westfall via Wikimedia Commons)

The murder of a cross-dresser in Belize has sparked outrage among LGBT rights advocates in the Central American country.

The Reporter, a Belizean newspaper, reported two men fatally stabbed Joseph Sanchez, 18, in the chest early on Jan. 12 while walking on a street in Belize City, the country’s largest city.

The publication said authorities found Sanchez wearing a blouse, a short skirt and women’s underwear.

Channel 5 Belize reported police have concluded Sanchez was the victim of what the television station described as “an armed robbery turned violent.”

Sanchez’s brother, Abner Sanchez, told the Reporter he feels the two men deliberately targeted Sanchez — reports have emerged that Sanchez had previously received death threats from a man with whom the 18-year-old had been previously involved.

“It was a setup because they called him out of his bed,” Abner Sanchez told the Reporter. “He doesn’t normally walk those hours. He was always picked up.”

Jen Psaki, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, condemned Sanchez’s murder in a Jan. 16 statement.

“We send our condolences to Joseph’s friends and family and the entire LGBT community in Belize,” she said.

Psaki added the State Department is “encouraged by the Belizean authorities’ swift investigation into the killing.” She said the agency echoes “the government’s commitment to ensure that all citizens, without exception, enjoy the full protection of the law.”

Caleb Orozco, co-founder of the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM), an HIV/AIDS advocacy group, expressed concern over the Belizean government’s response to Sanchez’s murder.

“It is my hope they don’t contaminate evidence in this case,” Orozco told the Washington Blade last week, citing a 2009 murder in which a court released the suspected perpetrator after alleging authorities forced him to confess to killing his partner. “Right now because there is not a definition of hate crime, the police is not legally obliged to say it was nothing other than a robbery gone wrong.”

Anti-LGBT violence and discrimination remain a serious problem in Belize in spite of the government’s recent efforts to combat it.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow last May defended his government’s revised gender equality policy that specifically includes sexual orientation. Belizean First Lady Kim Simplis-Barrow the same month spoke out against anti-gay discrimination and violence in a video that commemorated the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

“The Abominable Crime,” a film that documents anti-LGBT violence in Jamaica, last July won Best Feature Length Documentary at the 8th Belize International Film Festival in Belize City.

UNIBAM in 2010 filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of the Judicature of Belize that challenges the country’s colonial-era anti-sodomy law.

Orozco said he has received hate mail and even death threats because of his advocacy. He told reporters during a Southern Poverty Law Center conference call last summer that two masked men broke into his yard and vandalized his car last May as court’s chief justice heard UNIBAM’s lawsuit against the sodomy law.

A participant of a demonstration against efforts to repeal the statute last July carried a hanging effigy with UNIBAM written onto it. Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development Minister Lisel Alamilla described it as “extremely concerning and even frightening” in a post to her Facebook page a few days later.

A Southern Poverty Law Center report highlights U.S. religious groups that have backed Belize Action, a group that opposes efforts to overturn the Central American country’s anti-sodomy law. The organization said these efforts have inflamed existing homophobic attitudes in Belize.

20
Jan
2014

Lawsuit challenges Alabama same-sex marriage ban

David Fancher, Paul Hard, SPLC, Southern Poverty Law Center, Alabama, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

David Fancher (on left) and Paul Hard at their wedding. (Photo courtesy of the Southern Poverty Law Center)

The Southern Poverty Law Center on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit that challenges Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban.

The organization, which is based in Montgomery, Ala., brought the case on behalf of Paul Hard, who married Charles David Fancher in Massachusetts in May 2011. Fancher died in a car accident less than three months later after he hit an overturned UPS truck on I-65 outside of Montgomery – a wrongful death lawsuit was later filed in his name.

Alabama law says a surviving spouse is entitled to receive the majority of any settlement money, but the state does not recognize Hard and Fancher’s wedding because voters in 2006 overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

“They create two, unequal, classes of married couples living in the State of Alabama: those married couples who enjoy all the protections afforded to people who are married, including the right of a surviving spouse to recover proceeds in a wrongful death action, and those married couples, like Paul and David, who do not,” reads the lawsuit. “The obvious purpose of the Sanctity Laws is to punish and demean citizens who have entered one type of marriage, but not the other.

Alabama is among the 32 states that ban same-sex marriage.

Out state Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham), who married her long-time partner in Massachusetts in 2013, last November introduced a bill that would have repealed Alabama’s gay nuptials ban.

Six gay and lesbian couples in neighboring Florida last month filed a lawsuit challenging their state’s same-sex marriage ban.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Missouri on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in state court on behalf of eight same-sex couples who are seeking recognition of their marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions. The Forum for Equality Louisiana on the same day filed an identical lawsuit in a federal court in New Orleans on behalf of four gay and lesbian couples who legally married outside the Pelican State.

A federal judge on Wednesday ruled Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions.

A judge last month found Oklahoma’s gay nuptials ban unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court less than two weeks earlier blocked any future same-sex marriages from taking place in Utah pending the outcome of an appeal of U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby’s December ruling that struck down the state’s gay nuptials ban.

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto on Feb. 10 announced she will no longer defend her state’s same-sex marriage ban in court.

A ruling in a federal lawsuit that challenges Virginia’s gay nuptials ban is expected in the coming days.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore last week urged all 50 state governors to allow their legislatures to call for a convention to ratify an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would define marriage as “the union of one man and one woman.” Gov. Robert Bentley last September said he would not allow the Alabama National Guard to extend benefits to members’ same-sex partners in spite of a directive the Pentagon issued after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

“The moral foundation of our country is under attack,” Moore told the Associated Press.

Attorney General Eric Holder on Feb. 10 announced the Justice Department will now recognize same-sex marriages in civil and criminal cases and extend full benefits to gay spouses of police officers and other public safety personnel killed while on duty. This new policy applies to Alabama and the 31 other states that currently do not recognize same-sex marriage.

13
Feb
2014

Gay Alabama widower: State saw relationship as ‘nothing’

David Fancher, Paul Hard, SPLC, Southern Poverty Law Center, Alabama, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

David Fancher (on left) and Paul Hard at their wedding. (Photo courtesy of the Southern Poverty Law Center)

Charles David Fancher proposed to Paul Hard three months after the Montgomery, Ala., men’s first date on July 4, 2004.

Hard, 55, accepted Fancher’s proposal six years later – and they exchanged vows on a Massachusetts beach on May 20, 2011. Fancher, 53, died less than three months later when his car crashed into a UPS truck that had overturned on an Alabama interstate.

Hard filed a wrongful death lawsuit, but he would not be able to receive the majority of any settlement money because the state does not recognize him as a surviving spouse.

“At every turn and every juncture, particularly following his death, I was treated as though this relationship was nothing,” Hard told the Washington Blade on Thursday after the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit challenging Alabama’s gay nuptials ban that prohibits the state from recognizing same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions.

Alabama voters in 2006 by an 81-19 vote margin approved a state constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Out state Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham), who married her long-time partner in Massachusetts in 2013, last November introduced a bill that sought to repeal the state’s gay nuptials ban.

Hard said hospital personnel initially refused to allow him to see his husband, even though he had he brought the couple’s marriage license and other legal documents with him. An attendant roughly half an hour later told Hard that Fancher had died.

The director of the funeral home that buried Fancher said on his death certificate that he was “never married” and did not have a surviving spouse. Hard said the funeral home director refused to change the information on the document.

“I was seen to have been fully enough his husband to pay the bills and wrap-up his estate, but the state of Alabama refuses to acknowledges his relationship,” Hard told the Blade.

He added “no one deserves to through what I had to go through” after Fancher’s death.

“No one should have to suffer indignity at the hands of the state at the worst extremity of human existence when you lose someone,” said Hard. “No one would ever suggest to a widow and their church or their community organization that they should not pursue their rights as a widow. And I’m no different than anybody like that.”

Hard, who grew up as a Southern Baptist as his late husband did, told the Blade his family is overall supportive of his decision to seek recognition of his marriage in Alabama.

“Some of them don’t support gay marriage, but they have looked at me and simply said David has the right to leave to whomever he chose his estate,” he said.

Sam Wolfe, senior staff attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said as he and Hard spoke to the Blade it was time to file the lawsuit in the wake of last June’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that found a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and other recent rulings.

“Alabamians can’t wait forever and there is a bit of a wave going on in the country both on the topic of marriage and other issues relating to equality and basic dignity for LGBT people,” said Wolfe. “There are real families here like Paul and his family that are affected negatively, that are harmed by this law. We have the legal arguments at our disposal and we’re taking it to federal court to knock down this law.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed its lawsuit one day after a federal judge ruled Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Missouri on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in state court on behalf of eight same-sex couples who are seeking recognition of their out-of-state marriages. The Forum for Equality Louisiana on the same day filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of four gay and lesbian couples who legally exchanged vows outside the Pelican State.

A judge last month ruled Oklahoma’s gay marriage ban is unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court less than two weeks earlier blocked any future same-sex marriages from taking place in Utah pending the outcome of an appeal of U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby’s ruling late last year that struck down the state’s gay nuptials ban.

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto earlier this week announced she will no longer defend her state’s same-sex marriage ban in court.

Same-sex couples in Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania and other states have filed marriage lawsuits since the U.S. Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling. A measure that would ban same-sex marriage in the Hoosier State will not go before voters this year after the Indiana Senate adjourned on Thursday without considering any amendments on the proposal.

Attorney General Eric Holder’s Feb. 10 announcement that the Justice Department will now recognize same-sex marriages in civil and criminal cases and extend full benefits to gay spouses of police officers and other public safety personnel applies to Alabama and the 31 other states that have yet to extend marriage rights to gays and lesbians. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Thursday introduced a bill that would ban the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages in states that ban gay nuptials.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and Attorney General Luther Strange are among those named as defendants in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s lawsuit.

Bentley’s spokesperson, Jennifer Ardis, told the Associated Press on Thursday the governor believes in the “traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.” Ardis said Bentley would defend the state’s gay nuptials ban in court.

Wolfe told the Blade there have been “a lot” of positive reactions to the lawsuit. He said local officials have also said they plan to fight it “to the bitter end.”

14
Feb
2014

Report criticizes U.S. religious groups’ support of Belize sodomy law

Belize, gay news, Washington Blade

Belize (Photo by Greg Westfall via Wikimedia Commons)

A report the Southern Poverty Law Center released on Thursday criticizes U.S. religious groups for supporting the campaign to defend Belize’s anti-sodomy law.

The organization specifically singles out the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom and the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, which has offices in D.C. and New York, for sending lawyers to the Central American country to advice Belize Action, a group opposed to a lawsuit currently before the Supreme Court of the Judicature of Belize that seeks to overturn the statute under which those found guilty of consensual same-sex sexual acts face 10 years in prison. The Southern Poverty Law Center report also notes that Extreme Prophetic Ministries, a Phoenix-based group, has also publicly backed Belize Action.

The The report further documents that Scott Strim, who heads Belize Action, was born in Texas.

The report further alleges that the aforementioned groups’ support of Belize’s anti-sodomy law has only inflamed existing homophobic attitudes in the country.

Caleb Orozco, co-founder of the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM,) the HIV/AIDS group that challenged the statute in the Supreme Court of the Judicature of Belize in 2010, told reporters on Thursday that two masked men broke into his yard and vandalized his car around the same time the justices heard the case in May. He said he has also received hate mail and saw a YouTube clip with a caption that encouraged someone to shoot him in the head.

Orozco further accused Belize Action of using the media to “confuse, conflate” and “intensify whatever prejudices that already exist to create a culture of fear and hate.” The editor of a leading Belizean newspaper wrote in a column before the country’s highest court heard UNIBAM’s case that “homosexuals pray on children and boys.”

A participant of a demonstration in southern Belize on July 5 carried a hanging effigy with UNIBAM written onto it.

“The involvement of these American groups is adding fuel to the fire in that country,” Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, said. “To inject these ideas into a country like Belize is beyond irresponsible.”

Belize is among the 11 English-speaking Central American and Caribbean countries in which colonial era anti-sodomy laws remain on the books.

Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development Minister Lisel Alamilla described the UNIBAM effigy as “extremely concerning and even frightening” in a post to her Facebook page on July 11. Belizean First Lady Kim Simplis-Barrow spoke out against anti-gay discrimination and violence in a video in which she appeared to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow in the same month also defended the government’s revised gender equality policy that specifically includes sexual orientation.

The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute declined to comment on the Southern Poverty Law Center report. The group’s website, however, contains a statement in French under the headline “Christian churches of Belize are third parties in the sodomy case” that appears to have been written in May 2011.

“Powerful advocacy and international organizations have made the poor country of Belize a target in the international fight for homosexuality,” it reads.

The Alliance Defending Freedom did not return the Washington Blade’s request for comment.

Belize Action, which posted a statement on its website against the UNIBAM effigy, defended its efforts in support of the country’s sodomy law in an e-mail to the Blade on Thursday.

The group said the statute that “Orozco wants to change” has “never been used to prosecute any person for a consensual act, not once.” Belize Action said more than 80 percent of prosecutions under the country’s anti-sodomy law have been for “sexual abuse against children.”

“We say it’s a good law, leave it as is,” the organization told the Blade. “It’s not stopping gays from doing what they want to do.”

Belize Action sought to further discredit Orozco.

“Orozco says this is an issue of loving who they want to love, but in truth this is not about the bedroom. It’s about the classroom,” the group said, noting Belizean men who have sex with men have the country’s highest HIV/AIDS rate. “They want their lifestyle legitimized so they can have it in kids’ curriculums as ‘normal, natural, healthy and productive’ when it’s not.”

Orozco maintained the sodomy statute is “not a good law” as he responded to Belize Action’s claims.

“It does not separate consensual sex from forced sex and mixes sexual practices with bestiality,” he told the Blade. “It serves only to sanction current attitudes of extreme Christian right leaders like the Belize Action representative.”

While not responding directly to the Southern Poverty Law Center report, a State Department official told the Blade the U.S. government continues to support efforts to decriminalize homosexuality around the world.

“U.S. policy, articulated by President Obama and numerous other officials, including Secretary of State [John] Kerry is that the United States opposes laws that criminalize consensual same-sex relations,” the official said. “The United States also staunchly defends freedom of association and freedom of expression, even when individuals or groups are advocating policies that are inconsistent with universal human rights and our foreign policy.”

Supreme Court of the Judicature of Belize is expected to issue its first ruling in UNIBAM’s case later this month or in August.

26
Jul
2013

As 2013 ends, remember to give back

champagne, 2013, gay news, Washington Blade

As 2013 comes to a close there is optimism in the air. Our troops are coming home; the economy is improving even if not quickly enough; and even Brian Boitano, the figure skater, and the British diver Tom Daley finally came out. (Photo by Bigstock)

Having the years seem to go by faster and faster is a sign of age I am told. December whizzed by with lots of food and drink in D.C. and a few great days seeing good friends in New York. Soon the crystal ball will drop in Times Square signaling it’s 2014 and I will be a year older, maybe not wiser, but older nonetheless.

My contemporaries who connect over the holidays naturally ask, “How are you feeling?” That usually leads to a lengthy diatribe about various aches and pains and ends with, “But isn’t it great we’re still alive?” After those conversations I’m thankful for my younger friends who haven’t yet reached the stage in their life where that discussion is the norm.

This has been a good year for me and thankfully for so many of my friends. But the holiday spirit means taking a moment to think of those less fortunate. While the economy is better, too many people are still unemployed or stuck in menial and underpaying jobs. We should celebrate that in 18 states and D.C., with the recent additions of New Mexico and Utah, same-sex couples can marry. Yet, at the same time we are making great progress in gaining LGBT rights, in Russia, India and Australia things are moving backwards. We should celebrate nearing the end of the war in Afghanistan and that young men and women who have been in harm’s way will be coming home. This year saw a real chance to end the Syrian war and stop the bloodshed and even possible openings in our relationship with Iran. But clearly vigilance will be required in both countries if we are to be successful.

This year the world lost a true hero when Nelson Mandela died. But his memorial service provided the opportunity that President Obama took to shake hands with Cuban President Raoul Castro, which could lead to a thaw in relations with Cuba. This year we learned some disturbing things about the NSA from Edward Snowden, who released information on the extent of our government’s spying operations. But while I am glad that is now in the open I think Snowden should be prosecuted to the fullest extent the law allows as a traitor for how he did what he did.

Pope Francis was named Time magazine’s man of the year for taking a much more rational position on what the church should focus on and yet Catholic schools continue to fire LGBT teachers. The Advocate also named him man of the year and to me that was like giving President Obama his Nobel Peace Prize in the hope he would do something to deserve it. Clearly Edie Windsor would have been a better choice for their person of the year.

We reached the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination and were reminded that it was 53 years ago that we elected the first Catholic president. It took us another 47 to elect the first African American and many hope it will take a lot less until we inaugurate our first woman president.

As we look toward celebrating the New Year it is also the time to think about all those charities that do good work here at home and around the world. Time to look at the bank account and determine how much you can donate to the causes or groups that need money to continue their work. Remember you still have a few days to make donations and deduct them on your 2013 taxes so the government is actually contributing a percentage of what you give.

I always start by writing checks (yes, I still write checks) to Whitman-Walker Health, MetroTeen AIDS, SMYAL, US Helping US, UNICEF, and the Southern Poverty Law Center among others. I think of my parents who escaped the Nazis and my father’s parents who I never met because they died in Auschwitz as I write my check to the Holocaust Museum. I remember my mom as I write that check to hospice, which took such good care of her when she was dying.

We all have our favorite charities that mean something to us or our loved ones. What’s important is that we give generously to those causes in which we believe. It helps to remember that they depend on us as much as they depend on our neighbors.

As 2013 comes to a close there is optimism in the air. Our troops are coming home; the economy is improving even if not quickly enough; and even Brian Boitano, the figure skater, and the British diver Tom Daley finally came out. May you all have sweet dreams into the New Year and dream about kissing that someone you love or want to love under a bough of mistletoe.

23
Dec
2013

Gay service members to receive full severance pay

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (Blade photo by Michael Key)

A federal court on Monday approved a settlement that will allow gay service members discharged because of their homosexuality to receive full severance pay.

The American Civil Liberties Union said that it reached the roughly $2.4 million agreement on behalf of more than 180 service members who signed onto a class action lawsuit who received only 50 percent of their separation pay when the military discharged them. This policy took effect in 1991, two years before “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” took effect.

The settlement the ACLU reached with the Pentagon only applies to those discharged before Nov. 10, 2004, because of the statute of limitations.

“It makes no sense to continue to penalize service members who were discharged under a discriminatory statute that has already been repealed,” Joshua Block, staff attorney for the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project, said. “The amount of the pay owed to these veterans is small by military standards, but is hugely significant in acknowledging their service to their country.”

The ACLU in 2010 challenged the policy on behalf of former Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard Collins who was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2006 after a co-worker at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico saw him kiss his boyfriend in their car while they were off-base.

“This means so much to those of us who dedicated ourselves to the military, only to be forced out against our will for being who we are,” Collins said. “We gave all we had to our country, and just wanted the same dignity and respect for our service as any other veterans.”

“There was absolutely no need to subject these service members to a double dose of discrimination by removing them from the armed forces in the first place, and then denying them this small benefit to ease the transition to civilian life,” Laura Schauer Ives, managing attorney for the ACLU of New Mexico, added. “This decision represents a long-delayed justice to these veterans.”

The ACLU announced the settlement hours after President Obama nominated former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel to succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta — his selection sparked controversy among some advocates who have criticized him for his anti-LGBT voting record on Capitol Hill and for describing James Hormel as “openly, aggressively gay” during a 1998 newspaper interview about his nomination to become the U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg.

Hagel apologized for his comments.

Former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos are among the military commanders who have said the integration of openly gay men and lesbians into the armed forces has gone smoothly since the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” became official in September 2011.

Problems, however, remain.

Transgender servicemembers remain unable to openly serve, while the Defense of Marriage Act prohibits the military from providing on-base housing, survivor and other spousal benefits to same-sex partners of gay soldiers.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network in October 2011 filed a federal lawsuit against DOMA on behalf of Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan, a lesbian guardsman with terminal breast cancer who led the Pledge of Allegiance at New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan’s inauguration on Jan. 3, and other gay service members and veterans. The Southern Poverty Law Center last February filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs on behalf of a disabled veteran from California whose application for spousal benefits for her wife whom she legally married outside Los Angeles before voters in 2008 approved Proposition 8 that banned nuptials for gays and lesbians.

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in cases challenging both Prop 8 and DOMA at the end of March.

The Obama administration announced in February 2011 it would no longer defend DOMA, but House Republicans continue to back it.

08
Jan
2013

Family Research Council shooter pleads guilty

A Herndon, Va., man arrested last August for shooting an unarmed security guard in the lobby of the anti-gay Family Research Council headquarters in downtown Washington pleaded guilty on Wednesday to three felony charges, including the charge of committing an act of terrorism while armed.

Floyd Lee Corkins II, 28, who has been held in jail since his arrest last August, signed a charging document before appearing in court on Wednesday confirming that he intended to commit a mass killing at the FRC building, a federal prosecutor said in court.

“[C]orkins targeted the Family Research Council because of its political views, including its advocacy against recognition of gay marriage,” according to a statement released Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney’s office.

“He entered the building with the intention of shooting and killing as many employees of the organization as he could,” the statement says.

The wounded security guard has been credited by D.C. police and the FBI with saving the lives of FRC employees working on the building’s upper floors by wrestling Corkins to the floor and taking away the semi-automatic handgun Corkins wielded while attempting to gain access to the elevator.

The guard suffered a gunshot wound to the arm and has undergone several rounds of surgery in connection with the injury.

In addition to the terrorism charge, Corkins pleaded guilty to charges of assault with intent to kill while armed and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition. He faces a potential maximum sentence of 70 years in prison.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard W. Roberts scheduled a sentencing hearing for April 29.

Corkins, who worked for a short time as a volunteer at D.C.’s LGBT Community Center in 2011, has not disclosed his sexual orientation.

In new information released this week, the U.S. Attorney’s office said police and FBI agents investigating the case found a handwritten list on Corkins’ possession containing the names of the Family Research Council and “three other organizations that openly identify themselves as having socially conservative agenda.” The U.S. Attorney’s office didn’t identify the other organizations, saying only that Corkins intended to target them had he succeeded in his planned shooting at the FRC.

Prosecutors also disclosed for the first time that Corkins returned to a gun store in Virginia where he purchased the gun on the night before he arrived at the FRC building and engaged in shooting practice.

Authorities previously disclosed that they had discovered in Corkins’ backpack a box of 50 rounds of 9 mm ammunition and 15 individually wrapped sandwiches he bought the previous day from Chik-fil-A.

FBI unit at Family Research Council headquarters, gay news, Washington Blade

Floyd Lee Corkins II was accused of shooting a security guard inside the Family Research Council’s headquarters building in August. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

In the statement released on Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s office disclosed that Corkins told FBI agents interviewing him after his arrest that he planned to “smother the Chick-fil-A sandwiches” into the faces of the FRC employees he intended to shoot.

In a separate court filing last week, prosecutors disclosed that they searched of Corkins’ family computer at the Herndon home where he lived with his parents. The computer search showed that he apparently obtained the list of socially conservative groups he planned to target, including the FRC, from the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

SPLC has listed FRC as a hate group based, among other things, on its portrayal of homosexuality and gay people as being associated with pedophilia.

In a statement released on Wednesday, FRC President Tony Perkins reiterated his earlier assertion that Southern Poverty Law Center was responsible for creating a climate that led to someone like Corkins seeking to commit violence.

“[I] stated that while Corkins was responsible for the shooting, he had been given a license to perpetrate this act of violence by groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center which has systematically and recklessly labeled every organization with which they disagree as a ‘hate group,’” Perkins said.

Southern Poverty Law Center officials have denounced Perkins for misrepresenting their position, saying they never label an organization as a hate group based on political views or public policy positions. SPLC officials have said they list FRC as a hate group for what they say are its false and defamatory claims linking homosexuality and LGBT people to pedophilia.

07
Feb
2013

N.J. considers ban on ‘reparative’ therapy

New Jersey, gay news, Washington Blade

New Jersey State House (Photo by Smallbones via Wikimedia Commons)

ASBURY PARK, N.J. — A bill outlawing “reparative” therapy for gays under age 18 is heading to the New Jersey Senate for a vote after the state’s Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee passed it by a 7-1 vote last month, USA Today reported.

The American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association are among the national organizations that either oppose or warn against reparative therapy. No major medical organization endorses the idea that being gay or lesbian is abnormal or a mental disorder that can be changed or suppressed, the article said.

New Jersey’s Senate committee hearing comes four months after the Southern Poverty Law Center sued Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, in Jersey City, on behalf of four men who claimed to have gone through rituals to rid them of their homosexuality. The rituals included “bodywork,” or being forced to undress and show their genitals to a counselor, Jewish Queer Youth co-executive director Mordechai Levovitz testified according to USA Today’s article.

California passed a bill banning conversion therapy last year, but an appeals court ruled the ban violates the First Amendment.

“It’s a culture war issue,” Dr. Jack Drescher, a psychiatrist, told USA Today. Reparative therapy, he said, is “a niche market that really takes advantage of unhappy people.”

03
Apr
2013

Artist arrested for indecent exposure

Qween Amor, gay news, Washington Blade

Qween Amor (Photo by Kory Otto Jacobs)

A gay performance artist who goes by the name Qween Amor says he believes D.C. police officers sided with an anti-gay group when they arrested him while dancing on the sidewalk in Chinatown on Dec. 14 on a charge of indecent exposure.

He said police arrived on the scene after he began dancing in front of members of the Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge, a religious sect that denounces homosexuality and which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as a hate group.

Amor said people on the scene told him members the group, who were preaching from a microphone hooked up to a speaker, called the police to complain about his “immoral” dancing.

A police incident report says Amor “was viewed with his penis exposed through a hole in his pants” by police officers as he was “gyrating” in front of a group of onlookers.

Amor, who said he prefers not to be identified by his birth name, told the Blade he was unaware that a small split developed on the bottom seam of the pants he was wearing as he danced to music he played from speakers attached to his iPod.

“I would never do something like that,” he said. “I didn’t know the hole was there. I would have covered it immediately.”

He said his intent was to peacefully confront the members of the religious group.

“They were preaching hate,” he said. “I felt if I have to listen to them denigrate people I love I would do something. So I decided to dance in front of them.”

His dancing and his arrest were captured on video by an onlooker who posted the video on YouTube, which has attracted a large number of viewers. The hole in his pants cannot be seen in the video.

Amor must appear in court on Jan. 3.

He said he performs as part of his support of a national campaign called Love Music Hate Homophobia, which seeks to fight bigotry, intolerance, and injustice “using the power of art.”

He said he also performs regularly at the weekly Monday “open mic” night hosted by the 17th Street gay bar Cobalt.

19
Dec
2012