Last Wednesday near Clarksdale Mississippi, the body of openly gay mayoral candidate Marco McMillian was found along a levee near the Mississippi River. According to family members, he had been beaten and burned. A suspect was arrested February 26 after 22 year old Lawrence Reed crashed McMillian's SUV into another car on US Highway 49 near the Tallahatchie county line. Marco McMillian's body was found the next day and Reed was formally charged with his murder. After being treated at a hospital for his injuries he has been released into custody and is being held without bond.
McMillian's family has asked that the murder be investigated as a hate crime. However, a spokesman for the Coahoma County Sheriff’s Department said yesterday that the department "isn’t exploring that option.”
According to a press release published today by The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, Reed's defense clearly sees the potential motive behind his murder may include the fact that he was gay.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) has learned that a “gay panic” defense might be used by the suspect in the homicide of Mississippi Mayoral Candidate, Marco McMillian. McMillian was found dead on Wednesday, February 27th near the bank of the Mississippi River just west of Clarksdale, Mississippi, the town where he had been a mayoral hopeful. Lawrence Reed was arrested for the homicide, and it is being reported that the two men may have had an intimate relationship during the approximately two weeks that they knew one another. It is also being reported that Reed, who identifies as straight, may have “snapped” as a result of sexual advances on the part of McMillian. Police have ruled out a hate crime in this case so far, something that some of McMillian’s friends and family members want reconsidered due to the brutal nature of the homicide.Ah, the old Gay Panic defense strategy.
The gay panic defense is a legal defense, usually against charges of assault or murder. A defendant using the gay panic defense claims that he or she acted in a state of violent temporary insanity because of a little-known psychiatric condition called homosexual panic.It has been used in many trials to try to prove that the real victim in the case was the poor irresistible hunk of man who, when faced with unwanted sexual advances, freaks right the hell out and goes temporarily insane. The insanity only lasts as long as it takes to tie the antagonistic homo to a fence, torture and pistol whip him into a coma, and drive away leaving him for dead. Then the victim of gay panic apparently goes right back to being a normal, upstanding heterosexual member of the community. No harm, no foul.
If Reed's attorney does end up using Gay Panic as a defense, he's going to have his hands full explaining how an alleged two week intimate relationship fits under that temporary insanity qualifier. Maybe they will be able to argue a new defense called the Slow Motion Gay Panic, wherein you temporarily lose your mind over the course of weeks rather than minutes.
Or better yet, perhaps Gay Panic being used as a defense for cretins who murder gay people should be relegated to the dust bin of history right along with the rest of the anti-gay bigotry we still endure every day, even in death.