Trayvon Martin (Photo released into the public domain by the family of Trayvon Martin)
A coalition of 34 national LGBT rights organizations and the ACLU issued a joint statement late Monday expressing solidarity with the family and supporters of teenage shooting victim Trayvon Martin following the acquittal on Saturday of the Florida man charged in his death.
‚ÄúWe cannot begin to imagine the continued pain and suffering endured by Trayvon Martin‚Äôs family and friends,‚ÄĚ the statement says. ‚ÄúWe stand in solidarity with them as they continue to fight for justice, civil rights and closure.‚ÄĚ
The statement adds, ‚ÄúTrayvon Martin deserves justice and his civil rights. We support the organizations and community leaders who are urging the federal government to explore every option to ensure that justice is served for Trayvon and that his civil rights are honored and respected.‚ÄĚ
The National Black Justice Coalition, a national LGBT group; and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force initiated the statement, which the groups are calling an open letter entitled ‚ÄúTrayvon Deserves Justice.‚ÄĚ
Nearly all of the most prominent national LGBT groups signed on to the statement, including the Human Rights Campaign, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, GLAAD, the Transgender Law Center, and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).
The statement comes two days after a jury of six women in Sanford, Fla., found neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter for the February 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Martin, who was unarmed.
The case triggered a heated debate throughout the country over racial profiling, with back civil right leaders and many supporters arguing that Zimmerman assumed Martin was a criminal because he was black. Zimmerman is white and Hispanic.
Zimmerman told police he followed Martin after seeing him walking through his gated community. He claimed he shot Martin in self-defense after the two got into a fight and Martin allegedly knocked him down and began pounding his head into a cement sidewalk.
Prosecutors noted that Martin was living in the community with his father and had done nothing wrong. They told the jury Zimmerman was responsible for his death by starting a confrontation based on the false assumption that Martin was a potential criminal.
The statement by the LGBT organizations stops short of a national online petition circulated by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) that calls for the U.S. Justice Department to prosecute Zimmerman on one or more federal civil rights law violations.
Attorney General Eric Holder said on Monday that the Justice Department he heads is continuing an investigation into the case begun last year. He said the department would make a determination on whether or not to prosecute Zimmerman based on ‚Äúthe facts and the law.‚ÄĚ
The national LGBT organizations said in their statement that the advocacy for justice and civil rights should not end with the final outcome of the Justice Department‚Äôs investigation into the Trayvon Martin case.
‚Äú[W]e will honor Trayvon Martin by strengthening our commitment to end bias, hatred, profiling and violence across our communities,‚ÄĚ the statement says.
‚ÄúWe represent organizations with diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender constituencies. Our community has been targets of bigotry, bias, profiling and violence,‚ÄĚ says the statement. ‚ÄúWe have experienced the heart-breaking despair of young people targeted for who they are, who they are presumed to be, or who they love‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ
LGBT activists in the D.C. area were expected to participate in protests over the Zimmerman verdict planned for Saturday in cities throughout the country. Details on the time and location of any D.C. area protests had yet to be announced as of late Monday.
Following is the text of the statement by the national LGBT organizations and the names of the groups that signed it:
An Open Letter: Trayvon Deserves Justice
We cannot begin to imagine the continued pain and suffering endured by Trayvon Martin‚Äôs family and friends. We stand in solidarity with them as they continue to fight for justice, civil rights and closure. And we thank everyone who has pushed and will continue to push for justice.
Trayvon Martin deserves justice and his civil rights. We support the organizations and community leaders who are urging the federal government to explore every option to ensure that justice is served for Trayvon and that his civil rights are honored and respected. But our work does not end there: we will honor Trayvon Martin by strengthening our commitment to end bias, hatred, profiling and violence across our communities.
We represent organizations with diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender constituencies. Our community has been targets of bigotry, bias, profiling and violence. We have experienced the heart-breaking despair of young people targeted for who they are, who they are presumed to be, or who they love: Rashawn Brazell, Lawrence King, Ali Forney, Brandon Teena, Brandon White, Matthew Shepard, Marco McMillian, Angie Zapata, Sakia Gunn, Gwen Araujo and countless others.
Every person, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, must be able to walk the streets without fear for their safety.
Justice delayed is justice denied and in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ‚Äúa right delayed is a right denied.‚ÄĚ We honor Trayvon by seeking justice for all people.
American Civil Liberties Union
Believe Out Loud
Bisexual Resource Center
Center for Black Equity
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals
Family Equality Council
Freedom to Work
Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network
Gay-Straight Alliance Network (GSA Network)
Harvey Milk Foundation
Human Rights Campaign
Movement Advancement Project
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Minority AIDS Council
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
The Trevor Project
Trans Advocacy Network
Transgender Law Center
Trans People of Color Coalition