July 15, 2013 at 8:44 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
National LGBT groups: ‘Trayvon deserves justice’
Trayvon Martin, gay news, Washington Blade

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.

“We cannot begin to imagine the continued pain and suffering endured by Trayvon Martin’s family and friends,” the statement says. “We stand in solidarity with them as they continue to fight for justice, civil rights and closure.”

The statement adds, “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.”

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 “Trayvon Deserves Justice.”

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 “the facts and the law.”

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’s investigation into the Trayvon Martin case.

“[W]e will honor Trayvon Martin by strengthening our commitment to end bias, hatred, profiling and violence across our communities,” the statement says.

“We represent organizations with diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender constituencies. Our community has been targets of bigotry, bias, profiling and violence,” says the statement. “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…”

“Justice for Trayvon” rallies are being planned in 100 cities around the country for Saturday. In D.C., demonstrators are planning to gather at noon Saturday at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, 333 Constitution Ave., N.W.

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’s 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. “a right delayed is a right denied.” We honor Trayvon by seeking justice for all people.

All Out
American Civil Liberties Union
Believe Out Loud
BiNet USA
Bisexual Resource Center
Center for Black Equity
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals
Equality Federation
Family Equality Council
Freedom to Work
Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network
Gay-Straight Alliance Network (GSA Network)
GetEQUAL
GMHC
GLAD
GLAAD
Harvey Milk Foundation
Human Rights Campaign
Immigration Equality
Lambda Legal
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
PFLAG National
The Trevor Project
Trans Advocacy Network
Transgender Law Center
Trans People of Color Coalition

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • I’m happy that people are uniting and having these conversations.

  • Tim MacGeorge

    I have to agree with Cailin Smith … the jury of six women listened to all of the evidence the Court allowed, deliberated with thoughtfulness and attention to detail, and concluded that the burden of proof for a conviction was not met. I would much rather see these organizations spend their time (and some of my membership dues!) on their specific issues and not on a particular case that has been settled in our judicial system.

  • fockinmeen

    Thank you so much for providing me with a list of queer non-profits that will no longer receive my financial support!

    • fockinmeen

      I am going to add something to what I wrote:

      Mentioning Shepard and Martin in the same sentence made me vomit.

      Queerdom is doing itself some very BIG harm here by wading into this shit. Was Trayvon a baby fag? He might have been because he had the requisite fat, ignant “gf” (the one who can’t read “cursive), but until we know that he was shot for being a faggot, this is not our fucking territory.

      I will tell you who killed Martin.

      The grand state of Florida. For allowing any mammal to have a gun or multiple guns, to carry a gun anywhere and basically use it at any time. When you permit a cop reject-wannabe to carry a gun under the guise of a vigilante (ahem, neighborhood my ass watch), you get a dead kid. And when the dispatcher said to cease pursuit and he did NOT, then he is guilty of stalking and any other actions he takes against the suspect are criminal. (Does FL even have a law against stalking?)

      B U T …..

      Under FL law, nothing Zimmerman did was criminal! So if people (and the kid’s family) want to HONOR TRAYVON MARTIN, they will work tirelessly to change the gun possession laws in FL; they will make any actions after a citizen is told to cease pursuit a felony.

      Will they do that? Fuck no. They will stir up racial hatred, which will stir up more racial hatred and achieve nothing in honor of this dead kid.

      Last comment. People who run these NPs — the ones that signed this dreck letter — need to be fired for they are causing self-destuction of their agencies. I ran a number of NPs decades ago and not one of them would EVER sign such a letter or take any position on such an inflammatory issue. If I had brought this to one of my boards, I would have been shown the door. Such a pronouncement alienates donors (which means white donors because they are those who have money and donate), so they are placing the futures of their agencies in jeopardy.

      If you ever want proof that queers can be assholes, this is a major example!

  • RSG

    Rick, I’m surprised that you, normally the voice of rationality, have bought the LGBTQXYZ party line on this; particularly as we find out from Piers Morgan Tonight, his best friend claimed he thought he was being stalked by a ‘gay rapist’—in addition to the physical injuries sustained by the acquitted.

    This begs the question that if the death was reversed, would the accused’s counsel employ the “gay panic” defense?

  • RSG, Trayvon was 17. He was being stalked by a stranger at the time, not pontificating from his sofa. Some of us are trying to overcome problems, not throw gasoline on them.

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  • Ryan Perry

    I know this topic — race, another black male dead and the murderer walks free — is a very tender subject in our country. And, what happened was a terrible wrong — all around.

    I find it extremely disturbing that people resort to character attacks on Martin, and on Zimmerman. I find it troubling that people also ignore important facts of the case, readily. It is jarring to hear the boy almost constantly referred to as “an unarmed teenager” when we know that, armed or not, he assaulted the other man and did a lot of damage. It is tragic that so many Americans, on this emotionally-charged topic, seem incapable of separating facts, and logic, and legality, from their impassioned personal wishes and opinions. And it is sad that a majority of people are talking victimhood without seeing any lessons in the story — for everybody.

    White people do bad things. American justice has failed many minority Americans over the years. But that doesn’t mean black people only do good things.

    It is NOT a good idea to assault another person. Whether being followed, or not, there was no cause to resort to violence. The violence made Martin the aggressor. If he ‘won’ the fight he had started, if Zimmerman had not had a gun and used it, then it is Martin who would be in jail today, and the nation would be going about its business-as-usual without having heard of this case.

    Martin was in the wrong. Period. How were his civil rights infringed? How was he racially profiled? Racial bias was not proven, and it is being assumed.

    We know that Martin was a drug user, we know he had been expelled from school and that is why he was living with his father Florida, we know he had been strongly suspected of theft in the school, and we know — merely from his choices on that fatal night — that he had a propensity for violence.

    Is this worthy of “honor”? Is this the kind of character with which we want to stand in “solidarity”? Not to my mind, no.

    None of these facts about Martin make it right, or acceptable, that Zimmerman shot and killed him. It doesn’t make Stand Your Ground a reasonable, or defensible, law.

    But equally, having been in the wrong as the aggressor and the one who used violence and assaulted another human being, it doesn’t make Martin an innocent victim, and it doesn’t make him worthy of honor, of special ‘support’, or of this reverse style of justice wherein the aggressor, who died as a result of his own bad choices that night, is now honored as some kind of hero.

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