Andrew Shirvell, who was fired from his position as assistant attorney general in Michigan for a campaign of anti-gay harassment against the then-student government president at the University of Michigan, told a federal court Wednesday that he had “no hatred in his heart” for his target. A jury will now decide whether Shirvell’s actions constituted defamation and caused emotional damage.
Former Michigan Student Assembly president Chris Armstrong, the first openly gay president of the University of Michigan’s student government, filed suit last May against Shirvell, claiming “defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, abuse of process, invasion of privacy, and stalking.” His complaint requested at least $25,000 in compensatory and exemplary damages, as well as an injunction against future wrongdoing.
According to the Detroit Free Press:
Shirvell questioned himself on the witness stand for more than an hour Wednesday, trying to convince the jury he was upset by Armstrong’s push for gender-neutral housing at U-M. Shirvell graduated in 2002.
“My blog was political speech,” Shirvell testified. “I viewed my blog as a movement to get Mr. Armstrong to resign. I personally felt Mr. Armstrong was too radical for the position.”
Shirvell accused Armstrong of pursuing a “radical homosexual agenda” during his tenure as student body president. Under cross-examination, though, he conceded he had focused his attention solely on Armstrong, ignoring numerous other student group who had also pushed the housing policy.
A Shirvell suit against Armstrong was dismissed in April.