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November 2, 2012

News Briefs

Two cousins acquitted of the first hate crime charges under Shepard-Boyd act

London, Ky.--The first federal prosecution under the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act resulted in an acquittal for two men on their hate crime charges, but they were convicted of kidnapping in the 2011 attack.

The verdict was returned by the jury on October 24, and they were taken from the courthouse without issuing a statement.

Anthony Ray Jenkins and David Jason Jenkins, cousins, were accused of attacking Kevin Pennington in a state park because he is gay, which violates the hate crime statute. Anthony Jenkins’ attorney said he believed the jury did find Pennington’s story credible.

The Jenkins cousins were, however, found guilty of kidnapping and conspiracy to kidnapping, and will be sentenced on February 21.

The defense attorneys argued that David Jenkins was too drunk to formulate a plan based on Pennington’s sexual orientation while Anthony Jenkins’ attorney said his client has an IQ of 75, and was just a follower.

The defense attorneys also claimed the attack was over a drug deal gone sour, but federal prosecutors said it was about kidnapping, beating and killing a gay man.

Obama backs marriage in 4 state issues

Washington, D.C.--President Barack Obama has endorsed marriage equality in the four states where same-sex marriage issues are on the ballot in next Tuesday’s general election.

Having already announced his opposition to Minnesota’s proposed constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage, on October 25 Obama’s campaign announced his support for referenda on new marriage laws in Washington state and Maryland, as well as an initiative in Maine that would extend full marriage to same-sex couples.

Obama came out earlier in favor of the marriage bill in Maryland, and opposed another ban amendment that passed earlier this year in North Carolina. The statements on October 25 came from Obama campaign spokespeople in the states where the measures are on the ballot.

Terrorism added to FRC shooting case

Washington, D.C.--The man accused of shooting a security guard at the Family Research Council’s headquarters has had terrorism charges added to his indictment.

A federal grand jury added the charges on October 24. Floyd Lee Corkins now stands accused of aggravated assault while armed, second-degree burglary while armed, attempted murder while armed and committing an act of terrorism while armed. There is also an indictment for possessing and transporting a firearm into Washington, D.C. to commit a violent crime.

The earlier indictment was laid down in August, immediately after the attack.

On August 15, according to the Department of Justice, Corkins walked into the Family Research Council building, approached an unarmed security guard and pulled the gun from his backpack, opening fire and hitting the guard in the arm. The guard subdued Corkins despite the injury.

The charges are the first use of the district’s Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002, which penalizes attempts to “intimidate or coerce” large segments of the civilian population.

Man says church held him for months

Spindale, N.C.--A young gay man is accusing his former church of holding him against his will in 2011 while they tried to exorcise a “gay demon” that had possessed him.

Michael Lowry, 22, filed charges after the alleged attacks at Word of Faith Fellowship last year, but then moved to Michigan. He has now returned to North Carolina to pursue those charges, and is being backed up by former members of the congregation and by Faith in America, a nonprofit organization that is calling for a federal hate crime prosecution in the case.

Lowry says that they kept him in the church for four months against his will, subjecting him to “blasting,” in which congregants lay their hands on a person and shout and scream prayers at them.

The church, about 60 miles west of Charlotte, has faced accusations of sexual impropriety and child abuse in the past, but was cleared.

Log Cabin endorses Romney

Washington, D.C.--The Log Cabin Republicans issued a “qualified endorsement” of Mitt Romney for president.

“As we considered our endorsement decision, we did not degrade [LGBT] issues as irrelevant, nor did we overlook the harm that is done to the Republican brand when our standard-bearers appear to be caught up in an outdated culture war,” the endorsement reads. “But as we condemn the aspects of the GOP platform which work to exclude our families, we are still able to cheer the vision for America which was presented in Tampa, where success is a virtue, equal opportunity is ensured, and leaders recognize that it is the American people, not government, that build our nation and fuel its prosperity.”

They acknowledge that voters who have LGBT issues as their top priority would be unlikely to vote for Romney, who has stated that gay people having children is wrong, and who supports a federal marriage ban amendment.

The “qualified endorsement” means that, while the organization supports Romney’s candidacy, most of its efforts will go towards supporting Republican candidates in the House and Senate.

Ben Adler at the Nation reported that a meeting between the Log Cabin Republicans and Romney took place at a farmhouse in Virginia on October 17, at which Romney pledged that he would sign the Employment Non-Discrimination Act were he elected president and it reached his desk. However, if Republicans control either house of the legislature, it is unlikely the bill will ever pass.

Both the Log Cabin Republicans and Romney’s campaign deny any promises were made.

Compiled by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.












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