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 Wed., Feb. 27 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."
NCAVP has seen an increase in the severity of both anti-LGBTQ hate violence incidents and in intimate partner violence (IPV) incidents in the US. NCAVP's most recent report on IPV in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected (LGBTQH) documented 19 IPV homicides in 2011, the highest yearly total ever recorded by the coalition and more than three times the 6 documented homicides in 2010. This year, NCAVP's most recent report on Hate Violence, documented 30 anti-LGBTQH homicides in 2011, the highest number ever documented by the coalition.
"Our thoughts and condolences go out to McMillian's surviving love ones," said Chai Jindasurat, NCAVP Coordinator at the New York City Anti-Violence Project. "This tragedy is a reminder that violence within and against LGBTQH communities remains pervasive and deadly, and there is still much work to be done to create safety for all in our communities."
NCAVP is collaborating with the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) who has been in touch with the family and is reaching out to its member organization, Tabernacle of Love Ministries in Memphis, Tennessee to offer our assistance to support the community during this critical time.
"We are working closely with the family and will be reaching out to the Department of Justice for a proper investigation that does not prematurely rule out McMillian's death as a racially-motivated or anti-gay hate crime," said Sharon Lettman-Hicks, Executive Director and CEO at NBJC. "NBJC will be launching a national call to action urging that the rightful government entities are fully involved."
NCAVP is a resource for anyone who experiences violence. For more information, or to locate an anti-violence program in your area, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us online. Join NCAVP in our efforts to prevent and respond to LGBTQH violence. To learn more about our national advocacy and receive technical assistance or support, contact us at email@example.com .