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04/19/2007


American Bar Association Urges Ban On Gay And Trans Panic Legal Defenses

Yesterday, the House of Delegates from the American Bar Association unanimously voted in favor of a resolution “urging federal, state, local and territorial governments to pass legislation curtailing the availability and effectiveness of the use of 'gay panic' and 'trans panic' defenses by criminal defendants.”

National-Trans-Day-of-Action-protesters-via-Shutterstock-615x345The infamous "gay panic" and "trans panic" defenses dictate that unwanted sexual advances from LGBT people can make straight guys go temporarily insane and become murderous. They are commonly invoked in courtrooms as a way to justify violence against LGBT people. In fact, "gay panic" is currently being used to justify the dragging, beating and buring death of openly gay Clarksdale, Mississippi mayoral candidate Marco McMillian earlier this year.

Right before yesterday's ABA vote, D’Arcy Kemnitz, executive director of the National LGBT Bar Association said:

"Such defenses..." are “surprisingly long-lived historical artifacts” from a time when widespread antipathy was the norm. Kemnitz added that these defenses represent “the notion that LGBT lives are worth less than other lives."

Brandon McInterneyWhile “gay panic” is not officially recognized as a legal defense (falling rather under the umbrella of "temporary insanity" or "diminished capacity"), law professor Cynthia Lee wrote in a 2008 UC Berkeley Law School Review article:

“There is no question that when murder defendants argue gay panic, they seek to tap into deep-seated biases against and stereotypes about gay men as deviant sexual predators who pose a threat to innocent young heterosexual males." 

As a result, it makes sense that disfavor with "gay panic" has occurred with greater acceptance of LGBT people in the U.S. overall.

While the use of such defenses may outrage LGBT spectators of hate crimes cases, in a recent interview with Buzzfeed, David McConnell — a gay panic researcher who authored American Honor Killings: Desire and Rage Among Men — said that the defenses don't often work:

"... a legal defense, 'gay panic' doesn’t work. People think it used to be more successful. Historically, in the case of serious crimes like murder and assault, 'gay panic' has never worked. Roman Navarro was murdered in 1965, and his two killers were young hustlers who tried, explicitly, a 'gay panic' defense. No one believed them. So the real issue is that when we say 'gay panic,' we put the focus on the group that’s been victimized and not on the source of the violence... and that’s what we really need to talk about.

Indeed. The 'gay panic' defense was also used by Brandon McInerney (pictured above) to justify shooting openly gay, 14-year-old student Lawrence King twice in the head with a .22-caliber handgun while his 24 classmates watched on. McInerney recieved 21 years in prison for the second-degree 2008 murder, despite his "panicked" plea.


Family of Slain Gay Mayoral Candidate Marco McMillian Asks for Help of Justice Department: VIDEO

Mcmillian

The family of slain gay Clarksdale, Mississippi mayoral candidate Marco McMillian held a press conference Thursday asking the Justice Department to review the case because they don't believe they have been told the truth about McMillian's murder.

McMillian's body was found late in February near a levee after being dragged, beaten, and burned. The coroner has released an autopsy report that detailing “multiple areas of blunt trauma to the head that are consistent with a beating.”

22-year-old Lawrence Reed has been charged with McMillian's murder. The family believes he did not act alone.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Family of Slain Gay Mayoral Candidate Marco McMillian Asks for Help of Justice Department: VIDEO" »


Autopsy Report Released in Murder of Gay MS Mayoral Candidate; Says Suspect Confessed

Many questions still remain in the death of Clarksdale, MS mayoral candidate Marco McMillian, whose body was found late in February near a levee after being dragged, beaten, and burned. The coroner has released an autopsy report that detailing “multiple areas of blunt trauma to the head that are consistent with a beating.”

Macmillian_ReedThe Press Register reports:

It’s a simple, apparently clear cause of death, but the report is filled with grisly details that leave more questions than answers. The report, released publicly Friday afternoon, said McMillian died from a lack of oxygen because of a conjunctuval hemorrhage in his right eye and multiple contusions of his tongue. Basically, blood vessels in one eye burst and McMillian apparently bit his tongue.

Even so, the report doesn’t indicate what might have caused the asphyxiation and the report says McMillian’s throat and neck showed no signs of bruising or trauma, although the state’s forensic pathologist, Dr. Mark LeVaughn, concludes McMillian’s asphyxiation was a homicide.

22-year-old Lawrence Reed has been charged with McMillian's murder. The police department says it has found no evidence of a hate crime, and no motive has been proposed.

The AP adds:

Without naming Reed, the autopsy report said the man who was in the wreck in McMillian’s SUV “admitted to killing Mr. McMillian and dumping his body near the levee.” Authorities have previously said that Reed was alone when he crashed McMillian’s vehicle. The report said McMillian’s body was unclothed.

The report also said there were abrasions and lacerations on McMillian’s head, back and legs and multiple “areas of second and third degree burns.”

The FBI has said it is investigating.

The family released a statement in early March: “We feel that this was not a random act of violence based on the condition of the body when it was found. Marco, nor anyone, should have their lives end in this manner.”


More Accounts Emerge in Gay Mississippi Mayoral Candidate's Murder: VIDEO

Clarksdale

The FBI is investigating the murder of gay mayoral candidate Marco McMillian. In the meantime, the local news is not clearing up any of the murkiness of the story:

In Clarskdale, everyone's taking a side. Reed's roommate, Kamillia Evans, told abc24.com just days after the murder, "If he did do it he was defending himself." 

Lamar Kearney is a Clarksdale resident who doesn't believe the claim, "That don't sound like self defense to me."

However, the sisters say Reed told them everything. Just after midnight on February 26, their youngest sister received a panicked call from Reed. One sister says, "He called at 12:11am and he told her that the dude (McMillian) was trying to rape him. He was exposing himself to him, playing with himself, telling him to do things and then he'll take him home." 

He told the girl he was on a back road and couldn't get away. A few minutes later a bruised, bloody and broken Reed showed up at their back porch. "He just looked like he had been through war..." one sister describes, "He was standing in the back, back here, telling God to forgive him. He didn't mean to do it, and he was saying that he just wanted to die."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "More Accounts Emerge in Gay Mississippi Mayoral Candidate's Murder: VIDEO" »


FBI to Investigate Murder of Gay Mississippi Mayoral Candidate Marco McMillian

The FBI will investigate the murder of gay Clarksdale, Mississippi mayoral candidate Marco McMillian whose body was found late last week near a levee after being dragged, beaten, and burned. A 22-year-old named Lawrence Reed is in custody.

Macmillian_ReedUSA Today reports:

The agency "will assess evidence to determine whether federal prosecution is appropriate," Deborah Madden, an FBI public affairs specialist, said Wednesday.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and the National Black Justice Coalition, both separately urged the federal government Tuesday to seek potential hate crime charges in a case that has grabbed national attention.

The details behind the gruesome murder of MacMillian have not yet fully emerged, but the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs sent out this email earlier in the week, indicating that the defense may use an ugly strategy that has been effective for hate crime perpetrators in the past:

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) has learned that a “gay panic” defense might be used by the suspect in the homicide of Mississippi Mayoral Candidate, Marco McMillian.  McMillian was found dead on Wednesday, February 27th near the bank of the Mississippi River just west of Clarksdale, Mississippi, the town where he had been a mayoral hopeful.  Lawrence Reed was arrested for the homicide, and it is being reported that the two men may have had an intimate relationship during the approximately two weeks that they knew one another.  It is also being reported that Reed, who identifies as straight, may have “snapped” as a result of sexual advances on the part of McMillian.  Police have ruled out a hate crime in this case so far, something that some of McMillian’s friends and family members  want reconsidered due to the brutal nature of the homicide.  According to his family, McMillian had been beaten and burned.
 
"Marco's death is a tragedy.  He was a champion for justice and now he needs justice.  State hate crime law in Mississippi does not include sexual orientation. To date, it appears his accused will not be charged with a hate crime,” said Dr. Ravi K. Perry, friend of McMillian and former advisor to his campaign. “This tragedy brings to light the inequitable protections for LGBT persons throughout various states, where literally you can cross states lines and lose rights. We need to ensure Marco's life and legacy is given the same attention he gave so many others' lives."


Slain Gay Mississippi Mayoral Candidate Marco McMillian's Body Had Been Beaten, Burned; Suspect in Custody

More details are emerging in the disturbing murder of openly gay Clarksdale, Mississippi mayoral candidate Marco McMillian (below, left), whose body was found at the base of a Mississippi River levee last week after he had been missing for several days.

Macmillian_ReedThe AP reports:

Sheriff’s deputies last week charged 22-year-old Lawrence Reed (far right) with murder in the case. An investigation began Feb. 26 after McMillian’s SUV slammed head-on into another vehicle on U.S. Highway 49 near the Coahoma and Tallahatchie county lines. Reed was driving the car, but McMillian was not in it, authorities say. McMillian’s body was found the next day. Reed was treated for injuries at the Regional Medical Center in Memphis. The hospital said he was released Saturday. Reed was being held without bond Monday pending extradition to Mississippi.

McMillian's family released a statement today saying that McMillian's body had been brutalized, the Commercial Appeal reports:

“We know that Marco was brutally murdered. His body was found on Wednesday, February 26, 2013, beaten, dragged and burned (set afire),” his family said in an email released through his campaign manager Jarod Keith. “This was reported in our meeting with the local coroner on two occasions. We were informed that the official autopsy report could take two to four weeks to complete.

“We feel that this was not a random act of violence based on the condition of the body when it was found. Marco, nor anyone, should have their lives end in this manner.”

His family went on to say in the statement that McMillian shared with them before his death that he was concerned about his safety, and that they want a “full and thorough” investigation into his murder.

“We feel it is important to share this information to dispel speculations surrounding his death,” McMillian’s family stated.

The circumstances surrounding McMillian's death are under an active investigation.

McMillian was "one of the first viable openly LGBT candidates in Mississippi" according to the Victory Fund.


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