Monthly Archives: November 2009

Puerto Rico Murder and Texas Assault to be Prosecuted as Hate Crimes

Two weeks ago, I told you about a rash of hate crimes against LGBT people. Now comes the welcome news that two of those crimes will be prosecuted with hate crime “enhancements”.

On November 14th, the decapitated, dismembered body of Jorge Steven López Mercado (henceforth Steven López) was found in Cayey, Puerto Rico. Steven’s murderer was arrested and confessed, at which time he began floating a Gay/Trans Panic defense. (more on the Trans component in a future post)

Puerto Rico activist Pedro Julio Serrano quickly called on the Puerto Rican government to prosecute the murder as a hate crime, a literally unprecedented move in the US commonwealth.

After meeting with local ACLU representatives, the Puerto Rican government last Wednesday announced that hate crime charges would indeed be included in the prosecution of Juan Antonio Martínez Matos. Boy in Bushwick reports:

Puerto Rican authorities have agreed to investigate Jorge Steven López Mercado’s murder as a hate crime after they met with local representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“The ACLU has tried to get the government to accept its responsibility to investigate cases . . . that are hate crimes, particularly that of young Jorge Steven López Mercado,” [William Ramírez, executive director of the PR chapter of the ACLU] said in a statement. “We should not be satisfied with the possibility the federal government will do what our government is not interested in doing; which is to protect every citizen.”

Activists on Puerto Rico and around the country have repeatedly called upon local authorities to charge Matos under Puerto Rico’s hate crimes law, which includes sexual orientation. They have also blasted investigator Ángel Rodríguez Colón’s assertion López somehow contributed to his own death. The Federal Bureau of Investigation in San Juan has not ruled out the possibility of additional federal charges in the case.

Meanwhile, Rod McCullom of Rod 2.0 has news on hate crime charges in the case of Jayron Martin, a 16-year-old Houston student who was severely beaten after being refused help by two assistant principals and a school bus driver.

Sources in Houston and at the Human Rights Campaign in Washington tell Rod 2.0 the suspect will be charged as an adult with assault and a hate crimes sentencing enhancement. Texas hate crimes law explicitly includes “sexual preference”.

Rod also reports that the bus driver will likely be fired for allowing Jayron to exit the bus with the group of thugs that had threatened to assault him. No word on the two administrators who also ignored his pleas for help.

Hospital Sends Out The House Fags

I wanted to post something light and positive today. I really did. After all the bad news of the last few weeks I thought it would be nice to leave something fun before the Thanksgiving break.

Sadly, that will not be possible.

Recall that two months ago I published a story about Lisa Pond, a lesbian who was left to die alone because Jackson Memorial Hospital refused to acknowledge her partner Janice Langbehn or their children even after required legal documents had been produced.

Recall also that her partner’s suit against the hospital was dismissed after the court found that a Florida hospital has a right to do that to anyone, regardless of whether a hospital actually does do that to anyone other than a lesbian.

In yesterday’s guest post on Steve Rothaus’ Gay South Florida (a blog of the Miami Herald), John Dorschner posted a defense of the hospital by several lesbian and gay employees.

It’s an oddly-timed and transparent public relations move not unlike the Southern tradition of the master sending House Negroes to calm down other slaves after they’d heard a bit of truth.

I’m not going to republish the article here. Here’s the Cliff Notes version: “Oh no, Massa don’t hate queers! Janice must have been distraught and, um, misunderstood when people treated her like shit for eight hours until Lisa’s sister arrived and got information immediately without proving that she was related. She just misunderstood, see!”

In an open letter this morning, Janice Langbehn responded, again through Steve Rothaus’ blog. Click through to read her full comments, but here’s a taste:

I was given a link for the Miami Herald article done by John Dorschner (11/24) that I believe just set our family back 2.5 years. In the article a lesbian charge nurse at Jackson Memorial (apparently on duty the night Lisa was there) says she personally knows the SW and he is fine with her and her partner. The article goes on and basically accuses me of being irate in the waiting room and all but calls me a liar for what our family endured. I am beyond shocked to say the least that this would come just 5 days after an apology from other employees of the hospital. I wish I had been irate because maybe then I wouldn’t feel like a failure for not being with Lisa instead of doing as I was told – to repeatedly to take a seat and just “wait”.

I am letting you all know of this article posting and that I was NOT contacted to provide any information for this article. I don’t know the reporter who did this article for the Miami Herald. As you might guess I am at a loss and feel so personally attacked and that the apology I received last week in Miami was just lip service.

I am asking that you do not let give up the fight for equal treatment for our families, especially in crisis situations. I have Lisa’s medical records, I know when they stopped critical care. And as for the nurses to say my memory may be “hazy” is such a disservice to Lisa and our family. I have never wavered what happened that night – only JMH has they try to find new ways to spin the truth to make them look better since the LGBT community is afraid to seek care at their facilities.

Please keep Janice and her children in your prayers and thoughts this Thanksgiving. I’m not sure how you’ll tie that in to giving thanks, but they deserve your unending support.

P.S.: Janice, you are far from a failure. Quite the contrary, you are an inspiration!

Note: The comments section on my original blog post about Lisa and Janice got way out of hand until I finally shut them down. Before you comment here, please read the comment rules for this blog and know that comments that break those rules will be deleted.

7CHHBF4A4TVH

Welcome to our church. You’re not gay, are you?

I consider myself fortunate on my church home. Our minister is a true man of God and my fellow members are warm and caring. We’re active in local, national, and international mission work. We enjoy a true sense of family that I’ve found to be rare.

Not all people are so fortunate. Most mainline churches aren’t terribly up front about their stance on gays, so you can’t always tell what you’re getting until months have passed.

Such is the case for “Mike”, whose letter I ran across last night. Written in early 2007 about an incident in early 2006, the letter illustrates the danger at hand when we gays search for church homes.

I’ve decided to protect the identity of the writer, the pastor, and the congregation in this post. For reference, I’ll just say that this United Methodist congregation is located in the Church’s South Central Jurisdiction.

Dear Jeff:

During the last 9 months, I have debated whether to write these words strictly for catharsis or to write them and actually send them to you. When I began this morning, I figured that I would choose the former. But as the day progressed, two events galvanized my decision to proceed with the latter. The first was during lunch at [restaurant]. My partner had mentioned his father in passing but then began to cry: the man died of cancer almost a year ago. The second was my hearing you on a local radio station, advertising █████ █████████ Church’s assortment of Easter services. I wish listeners had access to the list of tacit conditions and exclusions.

Surely you recall having e-mailed me in mid-July 2006 and asking whether I could meet with you. None of the times you suggested fit with my schedule that week, so you then said that you were going out of town but that you would be back in touch with me during the last week of July. I waited.

Guessing what you wanted to talk about was no mystery. I am not oblivious to where I live and the kinds of people that surround me. But before you write me off as just another deviant suffering from inner brokenness, I will explain the gross assumptions that you have either made for yourself or accepted on the secondhand testimony of others.

My partner, whose name I imagine you never bothered to learn, is an unusually tender-hearted, sensitive, and deeply caring man. Hallmark commercials, cute babies, and small acts of kindness will bring him to tears. Mere days after his father died last year in [other state], we were sitting in church here. █████████ ██████ was preaching, and she made a comment about God wanting people to have strong family connections—with our brothers, our sisters, our fathers, and our mothers. When she said “our fathers,” he started crying. Seeing this was painful because I hate to see anyone hurting. I put my arm around him to reassure him that he wasn’t alone. He was shaking a little from the crying, and I did my best to comfort him.

It would appear that others sitting in church saw one man with his arm around another man and on that sole basis concluded that two gay men were scheming and plotting to flaunt their aberrant lifestyle for all to see. Of course, had he been a woman, no one would’ve thought anything of it. But men, real men, don’t show their emotional weaknesses, I suppose. In the weeks that followed, other statements from the pulpit would resonate with his loss, and he would cry or lose his composure; I would hold his hand, although each time he recovered a little faster. But the damage was done: entire groups of people evidently assumed that I am a homosexual, concluded that I had brought a filthy outsider into the church, and mobilized to treat him and me with, at best, cool civility, lest God think they condoned my evil choice. Jesus would be proud. When I stopped coming to services, presumably there was no longer a need for you to contact me, as you had promised.

You’d think, since God is said to be love and has promised in scripture never to leave or forsake me, that his church would be the one place in the world I should be able to go without fear of being judged or treated with disdain. I ask myself how Jesus would have responded had he seen someone anguished over the loss of a family member. Would he have stopped to think, Hey, I’m a man, and so is this person suffering here. Maybe, since my showing him compassion could be misconstrued as overtly homosexual behavior, I’d better play it cool.

I’m not denying that I’m gay and that I brought my partner to church with me once he moved here from █████ (where we met when I was working there in 2004). But people saw me touching another man and, without stopping to think, assumed the worst. They didn’t try to find out anything else; once their minds were made up, the unconditional love, kindness, and compassion of Jesus Christ evaporated. I assumed that people complained to you—or maybe you drew these conclusions yourself. Either way, hating for the sake of pharisaical righteousness is easier than thinking for oneself, than following Christ’s model. People who once greeted me warmly every week would look at me with barely concealed disgust—or, in some cases, wouldn’t meet my eyes. I’ve run into members of the church and clergy in public, and where once they would seek me out, now I have become invisible. They will look everywhere in a room except for the spot where I am, their eyes glossing over me as if retroactively I never existed.

One exception to this unfortunate trend, however, reminds me that there are Methodists here who, per the Book of Discipline, are committed to “social witness against the coercion and marginalization of homosexuals.” And he might well also believe the passage stating that homosexual behavior is incompatible with Christian teaching. Regardless of his beliefs, [another pastor at the church] has many times found me in public, looked me in the eye, shaken my hand warmly, and asked with seemingly genuine curiosity how I am doing. Many of the friends I made in that congregation continue to treat me with that same decency and kindness—as I imagine Jesus would.

As for those who presumed to know my heart and mind, drawing broad-sweeping and vast conclusions based on fractional minutiae, I’m not sure they would know the love and grace of God if it bit them. A friend told me how it works: the most generous donors to your church also happen to be the most conservative. We must always keep them happy, even at the expense of emulating Christ.

One other thing: my partner knows nothing about any of this: not people’s putative reactions, not your e-mail, not this response. Please don’t contact us, lest he learn of these issues. I will not risk poisoning him to the idea of church. He might see your church as not only tolerating but also embracing people who are kind only to those of identical mind. The real test of Christianity is how you treat people who are different. The real sermons of Christianity are the lessons people learn from observing you, not from listening to your words.

When did Christianity become nothing more than decrying abortion and homosexuality? When the church newsletter stopped coming in the mail, I got the message. I took the money that I had set aside for your church and gave it instead to the American Red Cross and the ████ Food Bank—two organizations that practice religion that is pure and undefiled, as the scriptures define it. I’m fairly certain that both groups, and the people they benefit, are grateful for my help, no matter what sex I’m attracted to.

Your church got the best of both worlds, though: you kept cashing my checks even after defaulting on the Christ-like behavior. Jesus saved his harshest words for ostensibly religious people who were certain of their doctrinal accuracy but whose hearts were necrotic. Maybe you should change the church’s motto: “Sharing the heart of Christ … but only as long as we’re in our comfort zone.” My sharing the heart of Christ will manifest itself through caring for my partner during his time of emotional turmoil. Maybe that’s how he will perceive Christianity: individual kindness rather than the warped version that I encountered.

[signed]

Thanks to Mike for letting me publish his letter on the blog. I’ve been in a similar circumstance (though not (directly) because I’m gay), and revisiting the experience is not my favorite pastime.

In an email this morning, Mike mentioned that Jeff made one attempt at email contact (against Mike’s expressed wishes), then months later when he saw them at a restaurant. He also said that the pastor he had praised in this letter has now been maneuvered out of direct contact with the congregation.

Is it any wonder so many LGBT people have divorced themselves from religion? Do you begin to see why so many of us have a sense of urgency about the changes the Church must face?

The Religious Right’s “Manhattan Declaration”

A group of well-known anti-gay activists released their “Manhattan Declaration”, a treatise on their stance against civil rights causes, with a special focus on The Homosexuals. I’m not going to dirty my blog with the whole 4,732 word screed. For that you can go to Jeremy Hooper at Good-As-You, who got his hands on a copy before it was released.

Signers (so far) include:

  • Chuck Colson, convicted felon and long-time foe of civil rights, who helped write the document
  • Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl, who last week threatened to shutter all Catholic charities in Washington, DC if a gay-marriage law is passed by city council
  • Jim Daly, Focus on the Family’s new president, who misrepresented the science of anthropology earlier this year in order to make a false point about Homosexual “Marriage”
  • James Dobson, Focus on the Family founder and long time opponent of civil rights, not to mention truth and integrity
  • Tony Perkins, Family Research Council president, who earlier this year said that the United States should stand with George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil”
  • Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr., colleague of Leroy Swailes in the fight against a potential gay marriage law in Washington, DC
  • Catholic Bishop Richard J. Malone, whose diocese in Maine raised over half a million dollars to remove civil rights by passing the plate during worship services three times
  • Alan Sears, Alliance Defense Fund president, who for some reason failed to rush to the defense of Louisiana’s Keith Bardwell when he refused to marry an interracial couple, even though doing so was clearly mandated by a statement earlier this year
  • Mark Tooley, President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, which bribed (or attempted to bribe) United Methodist General Conference 2008 delegates from Africa and South America to vote against gay-positive measures
  • Gary Bauer, president of American Values and standard go-to bigot for FOX News
  • Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage and Liar-in-Chief for the anti-equality movement
  • Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Church, who says that Democrats are Nazis
  • and many more

Seriously. It’s like a Who’s Who of Religious Right leaders. It’s nice to have them all in one place, I guess.

I do want to pull out one significant line from the final paragraph of this long, rambling tome:

… nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family.

Attention signers of this nonsense and their followers:

NO ONE HAS SUGGESTED THAT CHURCHES SHOULD HAVE TO BLESS GAY MARRIAGES!

NO ONE HAS SUGGESTED THAT CHURCHES SHOULD HAVE TO LOVE OR APPROVE OF GAYS!

STOP SPREADING LIES!

STOP SPREADING FEAR!

You’re Christians. Start acting like it, for God’s sake.

Too Late to Save Careers of Choi and Fehrenbach?

The US Senate held confirmation hearings today for Dr. Clifford Stanley, nominatee for the position of Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. This is important to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) watchers because that officer usually deals with DADT cases. We’d hoped to get a glimpse at the Obama Administration’s handling of the theoretical repeal of the discriminatory law.

From my count, we got two indications from today’s hearing.

Sen. John McCain’s opening remarks include the statement that “this policy has worked successfully in my view.” (via Kerry Eleveld’s twitter stream) I would hardly call Sen. McCain moderate, especially considering his unabashedly anti-gay statements during last year’s failed campaign for the presidency, but it’s still disheartening to hear such nonsense go unchallenged.

More troublesome, though, is Dr. Stanley’s response to a question from Sen. Roland Burris of Illinois about what happens to current DADT investigations if DADT is repealed. Stanley’s answer was, “if there are pending cases, they would fall under the existing statute. That’s about all I can say about that at this time.” (again from Kerry Eleveld’s coverage)

We had hoped, or at least I had hoped, that DADT’s repeal would end the destruction of honorable servicemembers’ lives. That doesn’t seem to be the case, at least not according to the testimony of this candidate.

Lt. Choi and Lt. Col. Fehrenbach
Lt. Choi and Lt. Col. Fehrenbach

Based on this testimony I have to wonder: Is it too late? Should current DADT victims give up their personal fights for justice to save their veterans benefits? It might be too late to save their careers, but can they save their futures?

Lt. Dan Choi came home from an extended tour of duty in Iraq with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). If he gets a less-than-honorable discharge (which is guaranteed if he fights his firing), he will lose his veteran health benefits and, at least to my understanding, his PTSD would be used as a preexisting condition to deny coverage from health insurance companies.

Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach is now about a year away from his 20-year retirement date. Remember, if he continues to fight for justice, he will lose retirement funds of $46,000 per year for the rest of his life, all of the lifetime veteran health benefits he has earned, and $80,000 in separation pay.

All this because the cases came a year before congress had the courage to act.

Is this how America treats its veterans? Is it really?

Houston Gay Kid Beaten with Metal Pipe; School Officials Refused to Help

This seems to have turned into Attack A Gay Teen week. At least JayRon isn’t dead.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We need to protect ourselves. Those with the authority or ability to help have made it clear over and over and over and over and over and over that they’d rather see us attacked (or worse) than treat us like human beings. I’m 100% dead serious. Protect yourself.

According to the 16-year-old, the attack took place off campus. He said a fellow student beat him after school while eight others stood around and watched. Martin believes he was beaten because he’s gay.

“All they kept saying was, ‘We going to get you. We going to fight you,’ and all that and so when they started coming after me they were like, ‘You’re not going to be gay anymore.’ They just kept hitting me,” he said.

Hours before the incident, JayRon Martin said a friend told him a group was planning to attack him. The teen said he talked with two administrators about his concerns. The administrators took a written statement from him, said Martin.

“I sat down in the cafeteria and I started writing the letter and so then I handed it to them and they said, ‘We are going to call y’all down and stuff like that,'” he said.

Martin said he was never called to the office, and the administrator didn’t call his mother.

At the end of the school day, Martin said he rode the bus home. The group threatening Martin was riding the same bus. Martin said he told his bus driver, but nothing happened. The teen said the group ran after him as he got off the bus.

“You don’t understand, I was just running for my life and nobody was like there at all. Nobody was doing anything for me,” said Martin.

Martin said the group chased him, and he ran into one of his neighbors’ home. While there, Martin said, one of the teens beat him for seven minutes with a pipe. He said the attack didn’t stop until the man who lives in that home came downstairs. “Then the man came down with his shotgun and he was like, ‘Y’all need to stop. Y’all need to stop,’ And the boy wouldn’t stop and he just kept hitting me and hitting me and so he cocked his gun and that’s when he ran out,” Martin said.

Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested the 16-year-old who beat Martin. The accused teen is facing aggravated assault charges. His case is in the juvenile court system, and those records are sealed. No other arrests have been made at this time.

On Wednesday, Cy-Fair School District officials said they have launched an investigation. They said they have placed Martin’s bus driver on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation. The district is also reviewing the actions of an assistant principal.

“I’m disgusted,” said the teen’s mother Lakenya Martin. “I’m sorry, after the fact doesn’t do it. The school district let us down. I mean, let all of us down because it could have been anyone’s kid.”

The Cy-Fair mother said she wants to move away from the neighborhood and out of the school district.

“When the child does what they’re supposed to do and the adult doesn’t, what are you supposed to say then? How do you make him feel comfortable? How do you give him back that sense of security,” she said.

Martin suffered a concussion. He also has cuts and bruises on his arms and hands, and said he does not want to return to school.

Meanwhile, the Martin family has retained an attorney and is considering a civil lawsuit.

In case you missed it, the bus driver is still getting paid and the two assistant principals are still in charge of children’s safety. I’d call it unbelievable, but we know better than that, don’t we?

Stand tall, JayRon and Mrs. Martin, and please plug into the Houston LGBT community for support. You are not alone!

Baltimore Gay Kid Murdered

I just don’t know what to say anymore.

The Baltimore Sun has the story of another LGBT person being murdered. This one happened last Wednesday, though I hadn’t heard of it until today.

Last week, at his aunt’s house, one of the few occupied homes on a block boarded and sagging, Jason Mattison Jr. was found dead – raped, gagged with a pillowcase, stabbed repeatedly in the head and throat, and shoved into an upstairs closet. Jason’s killing left his teachers, classmates and relatives in tears and family members asking questions of one another even in the days leading up to today’s funeral.

Did Jason leave his mother’s house and move in with his aunt, as his grandmother suggested? Or was he just visiting on that fateful day, as a cousin said? And why did people in his aunt’s house open their door to the suspect, a convicted killer released early from prison because of flaws in his case?

“From now on, we do have to take more care in who we let in and who we trust,” said Jason’s cousin, Laquanna Couplin, who lives in the house on Llewellyn Avenue where Jason was killed.

She described Dante Parrish, 35, who is charged with first-degree murder in the case, as a longtime family friend, but she would not say whether he lived there or visited.

“He was a terrific boy, and we miss him very much,” Couplin said. “We’re hoping that justice is served and that the person who is responsible for this goes to prison and doesn’t get out.”

Of Jason, she said, “He was a sweet young man. He wasn’t afraid of who he was. He had a life ahead of him. I just wish he could’ve had a chance to live it.”

But his paternal grandmother, Wanda Williams, one of the first Jason confided in about being gay and who handed him a few dollars now and then for food and clothes, questioned how other relatives could have allowed the boy to be in the same house with Parrish, given his violent past.

“I haven’t cried so much this entire life,” Williams said. “My grandson hollering for help and there is nobody there to help him.”

The day Jason’s body was found, it was Couplin who called police, at 3 a.m. Nov. 10. She reported that someone had broken into the house and stolen a television from the living room. A police officer came and wrote a larceny report.

Couplin called police again at 5:09 a.m., saying that she saw blood on a banister leading to the second floor. She also reported Jason missing.

Police found his body in the back of a second-floor closet. Charging documents say that “several witnesses were identified and positively identified defendant Dante Parrish as the person responsible for this act.” Couplin said she now believes the missing television was a diversion to make it look like a break-in.

Police arrested Parrish two days later at a convenience store on Moravia Road. A department spokesman said Parrish confessed to the killing the next day and is being held without bail.

Jason Mattison, Jr.
Jason Mattison, Jr.
1994 - 2009

The article also contains some remembrances of Jason from his friends and family. (I’m blurbing. Click through to read the entire article.)

Jason was one of the most popular kids at school, his English teacher said, always first to class, always first to the cafeteria, where students fought to sit at his table, always first to turn in his homework and always getting near-perfect grades.

“He was outspoken and excited about everything he talked about,” Jones said. “Walking into school, he was the first one to share what he did over the weekend. He was very, very popular, and he was everyone’s best friend.”

Jason wanted to be a pediatrician, Jones said, and the only thing the two debated was Jason’s constant chatter.

“He was not a behavioral problem,” Jones said. “He was a talking problem.”

But after every dispute, Jason eased the tension by laughing, smiling and saying: “It’s not that serious.”

The Vivian T. Thomas school has about 425 students, about 80 percent of them female, and Jason quickly gained friends with his eye for fashion. He dressed in bright colors and scarves, and if there was a hole in his jeans, he had put it there to make a statement.

Jason hated conformity. He wanted to change the spelling of his name to “Jaysen,” and that’s how his classmates remembered him on their cards.

“Normal was ugly to him,” Jones said.

Jatia Pledger, his best friend in high school, said girls at the school stuck up for Jason when boys gave him trouble: “We all had his back.”

Jason’s grandmother said the boy’s father was out of the picture and that she became the de facto authority figure. His mother did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment.

When Jason came out as gay, there was some dissension in the family and though Williams said she stood by her grandson, his declaration caught her off guard.

“I accepted his sexual preferences,” she said. “But I told him, ‘You’re young and don’t understand life.’ I told him, ‘Plenty of young women would love to be with you.’ He said he likes boys. Young people don’t like to listen to adults, but I told him I’m not going to push him away.”

Now, Jason’s family and friends are left to mourn – informally at a memorial service at the school Tuesday night, and formally at a funeral at 11 a.m. today at Unity United Methodist Church on Edmondson Avenue.

Many of his friends learned of Jason’s death from rumors on MySpace. They didn’t believe it until they arrived at school and found his chair empty and a somber English teacher to break the tragic news.

“We were in shock,” Jatia said. “We’re still in shock.”

Remembrances have filled Jason’s MySpace page, which contains one note that seems indisputable, even amid the questions swirling around this death.

It reads: “Mood: Jason is loved.”

Puerto Rican Murderer Confesses, Uses Gay Panic Defense

I goddamn hate being right.

Jorge Steven López‘s murderer, arrested this morning, has confessed to the murder. The man is identified by El Nuevo Dia (horrible auto translation) as Juan Antonio Martínez Matos. As last time, I’ve made small changes in the translation for readability.

(Spanish-speaking readers can help by translating the article directly. Leave a comment or email me from the About page.)

Confessed Murderer Juan Antonio Martínez Matos
Confessed Murderer Juan Antonio Martínez Matos

The prosecutor stated that Martinez Matos, a father of four children, went to the area of the town of Caguas “looking [for] women.” After being rejected [by] several females, Martinez Matos allowed López Mercado, who wore a blue suit and boots – to [enter his] vehicle.

The prosecutor explained that after Martinez Matos [noticed] that his companion was a man, [there was a discussion], during which young homosexual requested money, which was denied.

Subsequently, […] López Mercado pulled a knife, [which was] grabbed [by] the assailant and was buried in [López Mercado’s] neck.

The arrested [said that he thought] the person who had [entered] the car was a woman. However, upon learning that he was a man, [Martinez said that he was] angered, recalling that he had been sexually abused in prison while serving a sentence for domestic violence.

Bermudez said that there is no doubt that the murder of López Mercado [is] eligible for prosecution as a hate crime.

That’s the Gay Panic defense, just as we feared. The victim was A Homosexual, see, and Martinez couldn’t help himself on account of being raped in prison. He’s the victim, see!

Meanwhile, the staff of the Institute of Forensic Sciences (ICF) decided to inspect the septic tank of the residence [of the] confessed murderer.

In the courtyard of the apartment was found a wig, a [burned mattress], burned PVC pipe, a knife and blood stains on the wall.

Just in case anyone has forgotten, Martinez has confessed to murdering López, decapitating him, sawing off his arms and legs, and attempting to burn his body. Martinez is no innocent victim to be pitied.

As Pedro Sarrano said earlier in the day, the bottom line is that a 19-year-old gay man has been murdered at least in part because he was gay. He’s the one whose body was cut into pieces, and he’s the one whose version of events we’ll never know. As news services, prosecutors, and police begin to cast the confessed murderer in a sympathetic light, we don’t know how much of Martinez’s story is true.

When you come right down to it, it shouldn’t even matter. A victim’s sexuality is never an excuse for murder.

Arrest Made in Brutal Puerto Rico Murder

An arrest was made early this morning in Thursday’s brutal murder of Jorge Steven López*, reported here yesterday. The following is an auto-translation (with obvious readability corrections by me) of PrimeraHora.com’s article about the arrest.

An agent at Pereira Headquarters confirmed that it arrested a subject at a residence in the area of Los Beatriz Huertas neighborhood and seized two vehicles for research.

The information is provided by sources close to the murdered teenager. The figure was learned yesterday after extensive questioning friends of the victim in Caguas. Apparently this is a man who offered money for sex with López Mercado.

Thank God. My only worry is that the suspect may use a Gay Panic defense when this gets to trial.

Jorge Steven López Mercado
Jorge Steven López Mercado
1990 - 2009

Well, there is a second worry. In a separate article (translation), human rights activist Pedro Julio Serrano spoke about the arrest.

Even if you blanket the presumption of innocence, it is encouraging that a suspect has been arrested for committing such heinous crime. We recognize, first of all, the work of the police who investigated this horrific killing quickly. We hope the investigation proves ultimately whether this murder was committed by sexual
orientation bias of Jorge Steven and if so, is prosecuted as a hate crime, with the full weight of law,” Serrano said in written communication.

In addition, Serrano asked not to divert attention to the circumstances in which this murder occurred and not prosecute the victim but the criminal who committed such a horrible crime.

“…do not divert attention from what is really important: a 19-year-old lost his life to be cruelly murdered by someone who had no compassion, even the slightest sensitivity to human dignity. Here we have to investigate, prosecute and give him his due process the criminal law. We cannot allow the prosecution in any way of a victim who no longer lives and can not defend himself,” declared the leader.

The arrested suspect has not been identified because he has not yet been formally charged.

* Steven’s full name is Jorge Steven López Mercado. This gringo had to look up the deal with many people dropping Mercado, and dropping it is correct usage.

Gay Man Decapitated, Dismembered; Investigator Sides with Killer

Brace yourself. This one gets ugly fast.

The following was published late last night through CNN’s iReport network by Christopher Pagan about Thursday’s grisly murder of Jorge Steven López Mercado in Puerto Rico. (h/t TowleRoad)

I am writing to you about a tragic murder that has happened here in Puerto Rico. It has really only made local news simply because we are on this island, but you are the voice of those that are unheard throughout the world. On November 14 the body of a gay 19 year old was found a few miles away from the town in which he was residing in called Caguas. He was a very well known person in the gay community of Puerto Rico, and very loved. He was found on the site of an isolated road in the city of Cayey, he was partially burned, decapitated, and dismembered, both arms, both legs, and the torso.

This has caused a huge reaction from the gay community here, but its a difficult situation. Never in the history of Puerto Rico has a murder been classified as a hate crime. Even though we have to follow federal mandates and laws, many of the laws in which are passed in the USA such as Obama’s new bill, do not always directly get practiced in Puerto Rico. The police agent that is handling this case said on a public televised statement that “people who lead this type of lifestyle need to be aware that this will happen”. As If the boy murdered Jorge Steven López was asking to get killed.

We have a gay rights activist in Puerto Rico Pedro Julio Serrano. Who does his best to defend [against] these hateful acts, but the international attention is needed for this local government to wake up and give us the needed rights and proper justice to such hateful crimes. You are the biggest beacon of hope in such horrific events to be made known.

Jorge Steven López Mercado
Jorge Steven López Mercado
1990 - 2009

According to Primera Hora, friends became worried (auto-translate from Google) last Thursday when Steven didn’t show up at Road to Diva, an event at local gay club Krash that he’d told friends earlier in the day that he would attend.

Puerto Rico Para Tod@s‘s Pedro Julio Serrano released a statement (in Spanish (pdf)) yesterday that reads in part:

It is inconceivable that the investigating officer suggests that the victim deserved his fate, like a woman deserves rape for wearing a short skirt. We demand condemnation of this investigator and demand that Superintendente Figueroa Sancha replace him with someone capable of investigating this case without prejudice.

This is why we fight, folks. Other attacks and indignities LGBT people suffer look slight in comparison to this murder, but it all comes from the same fear and hatred, and far too many people in straight America quietly agree with the investigator.

My prayers, insufficient as they are, go out to Steven’s family and friends.