Maggie Gallagher, founder of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, is demanding harsher prosecution of Floyd Corkins, accused of shooting a building security guard in the arm at the offices of the Family Research Council. | MARRIAGEDEBATE.COM
One week after Floyd Corkins walked into the Washington, DC offices of the Family Research Council (FRC) and wounded a security guard there by firing a single bullet into the guard’s arm, Maggie Gallagher called for Corkins to be prosecuted under the district’s hate crimes statute.
“Why has the DC police refused to prosecute as a potential hate crime what the FBI is investigating as an act of domestic terrorism?” the conservative pundit and longtime opponent of queer community goals asked in an August 22 column.
Corkins, 28, who traveled from his Virginia home to commit the crime, was indicted on three charges — a federal violation for the interstate transportation of a firearm, assault with intent to kill, and possessing a firearm while committing a violent crime. The last two are violations of district law.
A federal grand jury did not see the attack at the right-wing group’s headquarters as hate-motivated or an act of terrorism, though a US Department of Justice spokesman said the “investigation is continuing.”
There is great irony in Gallagher asking for the assault to be labeled a hate crime. She opposed federal hate crime legislation as early as 1999 in a mocking column on a bill that included sexual orientation as a protected class.
Right wingers offer only rare condemnations of anti-gay violence, but their intensity in those statements never approaches the emotion they exhibit when condemning gay people. Their claims that they are now being victimized by the gay community, assertions they have been making for years, reached a crescendo following Corkins’ actions.
“Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) that have been reckless in labeling organizations hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy,” Tony Perkins, FRC’s president, told the Associated Press.
The center listed FRC as a hate group for its “demonizing claims that gay people are child molesters and worse,” Mark Potok, a senior fellow at SPLC said in that article.
An affidavit filed in the case by Garrett Nabors, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said Corkins “stated words to the effect of ‘I don’t like your politics’” before the shooting. He was carrying Chick-fil-A sandwiches in his knapsack, and Nabors linked those to the controversy that erupted when Dan Cathy, the restaurant chain’s chief executive, recently opposed same-sex marriage.
“This announcement received substantial publicity,” Nabors wrote. “I further know that the Family Research Council is a Christian conservative policy organization which supports traditional marriage.”
There simply is no parity between any abuse conservatives may suffer and what the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community endures year in and year out.
In their most recent findings, the 16 member groups in the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) reported that 2,092 community members experienced bias incidents in 2011 and 32 percent of them, or 670, required medical attention. Thirty “hate violence murders” were reported to the coalition in 2011, the highest number to date. Not all anti-queer violence in the country is reported to the coalition.
And what Perkins did not admit as he accused SPLC of complicity in Corkins’ attack was that if the center is responsible for Corkins’ actions, then FRC must bear some responsibility for NCAVP’s statistics.
“I do think that they do, because what they’re doing is tapping into broader cultural scripts about gender and sexuality,” Dr. Karen Franklin, a forensic psychologist, told Gay City News.
Franklin was the first researcher to interview perpetrators of anti-gay violence. Her 2000 study detailing her results described four motivations — self-defense, ideology, thrill-seeking, and peer dynamics.
Those who are moved by ideology see themselves “as social norm enforcers who are punishing moral transgressions,” the study read. That view is entirely in line with FRC’s arguments that same-sex marriage and the LGBT community more broadly are threats to the wider society. Just as FRC says it is defending marriage or children, perpetrators who are motivated by ideology say “they’re defending their community and family and way of life,” Franklin said.
“They feel completely justified in that case,” she said. “It’s almost like fighting a war… Soldiers typically feel that they are fighting for a righteous cause.”
SPLC and gay community groups are not making the same argument when they attack FRC or other conservatives.
“Nobody is saying that the Family Research Council or Christian conservatives are a lesser type of person who should be discriminated against,” Franklin said. “Nobody is trying to discriminate against them, nobody is saying they are second-class citizens… I don’t think anybody can accuse the Southern Poverty Law Center or any of these groups of advocating violence.”