The point-blank murder of Mark Carson, who was targeted specifically because he was gay, has shaken the LGBT community nationwide, particularly in New York City. After a vigil Saturday night and huge march on Monday, not one conservative group had yet spoken about the incident. This prompted Daily Kos blogger Scott Wooledge to point out a harsh juxtaposition, noting that mere hours after a shooter opened fire at the Family Research Council in August, wounding a security guard, a large coalition of LGBT groups issued a joint statement condemning the violence. Through his infographics studio Memeographs, he produced the image at right criticizing the anti-gay groups.
Only after its viral distribution did conservative groups begin to issue statements. Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage was first, though he tried to distance the homophobia that prompted the crime from the homophobia NOM promotes daily. He also suggested that opponents of marriage equality are equally persecuted:
We condemn in the strongest possible way the murder of a gay man in New York by a killer who apparently hurled anti-gay insults at him moments before the killing. This senseless act cannot be condoned in America or anywhere, and we urge that the perpetrator be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Our heart goes out to the family of the victim, and we hold them in our prayers. While this killing appears to have no connection to the current debate about redefining marriage, there is no room for violence toward any American — whether they support traditional marriage or not. No person should be subjected to violence because they are gay or lesbian or because they believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. There is no place for violence, period.
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council followed suit, issuing a statement that was narrowly distributed via email and has since been published:
We denounce any and all acts of unprovoked violence. No American should be the target of violence – period. We hope and trust that justice will be served in that the perpetrator of this senseless act of violence will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Other conservatives were more cruel in their response. Matt Barber of the Liberty Counsel chose to chide LGBT activists for politicizing the shooting, tweeting Monday, “That didn’t take long. Let no tragedy go to waste, eh?”He did condemn the murder, describing the murderer not as homophobic, but as psychotic. Of course, he has done plenty to politicize the FRC shooting, using it to target the Southern Poverty Law Center’s labeling of hate groups — a label he once wore as a “badge of honor.”
The American Family Association has yet to say anything about Carson’s murder or the rash of anti-gay hate crimes in New York. Instead, its OneNewsNow service ran a story Tuesday about Christians being persecuted in China. OneNewsNow regularly includes content fed from the Associated Press and outside sources, so it’s likely an editorial decision was made to feature one and not the other. Violent persecution anywhere is wrong, but it seems AFA, which also attacked the SPLC over the FRC shooting, prioritizes some stories over others.
Homophobia and transphobia stem from notions that LGBT people are weak, less than, deviant, harmful to society, and deserve to be ostracized because of their identities. These are the very messages promoted by these conservative groups, which is why many of them have been labeled as hate groups. That they had to be prodded over several days to condemn a murderous hate crime — and many still haven’t — could indicate a lack of concern about anti-LGBT violence, but it could also suggest a subtle acknowledgment that the rhetoric they promote bears some responsibility in the first place.
This post has been updated to reflect the tweet Matt Barber sent on March 19.