Kentucky Federal Jury Acquits Two Men Of Hate Crime Charges- Convicts On Charges Of Kidnapping And Conspiracy
Jason Jenkins and Anthony Jenkins, who are cousins, were the first people in the nation to face conviction under a section of the federal hate-crime law that makes it illegal to assault another person because of the victim's real or perceived sexual orientation.
The case against the cousins was also test of the law as earlier in the proceedings, U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove had turned away a challenge to the constitutionality of the hate-crime law. In his ruling Van Tatenhove however, did note that Congress used the "full breadth" of its regulatory power to come up with a way to justify federal jurisdiction. His ruling allowed the hate-crime charge to proceed.
Legal analysts agreed that Wednesday's verdict indicated the jury did not find sufficient evidence to convict the Jenkins of attacking Kevin Pennington because Pennington is gay.
The two men however do face sentences of life in prison on the federal kidnapping convictions. Sentencing is scheduled to be set for for February 21.
In a brief statement afterwards, Willis Coffey, the defence attorney of one of the two men charged, Anthony Jenkins, said his client wanted to be acquitted on all three charges.
"He's happy he wasn't found guilty of a hate crime, and so am I," Coffey said.
Coffey also said it's likely the cousins will appeal.
Courtroom observers noted that the victim, Kevin Pennington looked disappointed and left without making a statement.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office was also not immediately available after the verdict for comment.
Washington D. C.
SLDN & OutServe Tap Army Veteran to Lead Newly Combined Organization
WASHINGTON -- Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) and OutServe, the association of actively serving LGBT military personnel, today announced the selection of Army veteran Allyson Robinson to lead the newly combined organization. Robinson assumes the post as the two organizations are slated to finalize their combination this weekend. The combination was announced in July.
“I am honored to lead the new OutServe-SLDN into this next phase of advocacy and action on behalf of our brave LGBT service members, veterans, and their families. Until they are guaranteed equal opportunity, recognition, support, and benefits, our mission is incomplete. We cannot and will not leave them behind,” said Robinson, who departs her position at Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to take the helm of the new organization Thursday.
A native of Scranton, PA, Robinson is a 1994 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, where she majored in physics. After an internship at Los Alamos National Laboratory, she was commissioned as an officer in the Army and commanded PATRIOT missile units in Europe and the Middle East. She also served as a senior trainer/evaluator for NATO and as an advisor to the armed forces of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar. Robinson resigned her commission in 1999 to pursue a calling to Christian ministry, serving as pastor-teacher to churches in the Portuguese Azores and central Texas. She earned a master of divinity degree in theology with a capstone emphasis in social justice from Baylor University in 2007.
Most recently, as the first Deputy Director for Employee Programs of the HRC Foundation’s Workplace Project, Robinson drove the design and delivery of HRC’s broad portfolio of training and curricula for corporate leadership and employee audiences to improve LGBT cultural competence and inclusion in the workplace. She lives with her wife of 18 years and their four children in Gaithersburg, MD.
“Allyson Robinson is exactly the right person at the right time to be our leader and voice in Washington in the fight to achieve full LGBT equality in the military. She comes with an exemplary military background, strong political and policy acumen, and a deep commitment and vision for bringing about the changes needed to carry forward the work we began with the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” said April Heinze, retired Navy captain and co-chair of the SLDN Board of Directors.
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, applauded the appointment of Robinson as the new Executive Director of OutServe-SLDN. She has been with HRC since 2007 currently serving as the Workplace Project Deputy Director for Learning and Development.
“The LGBT rights movement is made stronger by the inspired appointment of Allyson Robinson as head of a critically important organization,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.
“As a West Point graduate, experienced officer and movement leader, she brings her extensive knowledge of the issues to this new assignment. What I admire most about Allyson is that she leads with her heart and that quality will serve our troops and veterans extraordinarily well as we continue the fight for full equality.”
Representing seven plaintiff same-sex military couples – each legally married -- SLDN filed a federal court challenge in October 2011 to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and other federal laws that prevent the military from providing equal recognition, benefits and support to all service members and their families. Robinson said today that among her priorities will be accelerating the fight for equal support and benefits for all service members.
“The repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ taught us that to be victorious, we must fight inequality on multiple fronts – in the courts, on Capitol Hill, and in the public square. It’s time to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, revise laws that prevent the military from honoring the service of all of our nation’s men and women in uniform, and end marriage discrimination for our service members and their families once and for all,” Robinson said.
Robinson, who is transgender, also vowed to continue the important work necessary to bringing about full LGBT equality in the military.
“We cannot stop until we reach the day when all qualified Americans who wish to wear the uniform of our armed forces have the opportunity to do so with honor and integrity – and without fear of discrimination or harassment – whether they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender,” Robinson said.
In addition to advancing the mission of full equality in the military, Robinson will lead a newly-formed organization with an expanded mission, the result of the combination of SLDN and OutServe, which currently boasts 6000 members worldwide.
“From the moment I met Allyson, I knew she was the right leader for OutServe-SLDN,” said Josh Seefried, co-founder and co-director of OutServe. “As someone who graduated from West Point, deployed multiple times and has dedicated her life to advancing social justice, she will relate to service members and supporters and lead this organization to a new level. She is a professional of unparalleled experience and will earn the respect and admiration of LGBT service members right away.”
|Floyd Corkins Booking Photo via MPD|
Family Research Council Shooter Charged With Committing Act Of Terrorism WASHINGTON -- The man accused of opening fire and shooting a security guard inside the offices of the Family Research Council in August, will face seven new charges when he appears in federal court on Friday, including committing an act of terrorism while armed.
Floyd Corkins is scheduled to return to court Friday after the federal grand jury assigned to his case returned a superceding indictment Tuesday that added seven D.C. charges to the federal ones. Among the charges levied by the District include one count each of committing an act of terrorism while armed, attempted murder while armed, aggravated assault, second-degree burglary and three counts of possession of a firearm.
Corkins had previously plead not guilty to gun and assault charges in connection with the shooting of Family Research Council employee Leo Johnson, wounding Johnson, a security guard, in the lobby of the FRC after law enforcement officials said Corkins told him [Johnson] that he didn't like the group's policies before shooting him.
Johnson was honored by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray earlier this week, as he was awarded a medal of honor for his actions on the day of the shooting.
This is a developing story.
High Profile NYC Gay Rights Activist And Community Leader Near Death After Savage Beating
|Lou Rispoli via NYPD|
QUEENS, NY -- A well respected and beloved community leader in the borough of Queens, New York's Sunnyside gay neighborhood was removed from life support and is now in hospice care at Elmhurst Hospital Thursday. He is not expected to survive.
62 year old Lou Rispoli, who lived in Sunnyside for the past three decades, was attacked at around 2 A.M. on October 20 on 43rd Avenue, Queens. According to a published account in New York's Gay City News, Rispoli was hit in the head with a blunt object with such force that neighbors who heard the assault but did not see it thought he had been shot.
New York City City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who is gay and represents Sunnyside, in an emotional press conference Thursday told those who attended;
“He will not survive, and this will be a homicide.” The Councilman added that the assault on Rispoli, whom he knew as a friend and someone who worked on his 2009 campaign, “is a tragedy for our neighborhood and our city.”
The Gay City News reported that the one eyewitness who has come forward has not been able to provide much of a description of the two assailants other than that they were likely in their 20s. A third man, who stood lookout by a car that the group, including Rispoli, may have emerged from prior to the assault, was tall. The car has variously been described as an SUV or a white two-door. It is not yet known whether this was an anti-gay bias attack.
NYPD investigators released a photo of Rispoli in the hopes that anyone who may have information about the attack will call the NYPD hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS. But police are not commenting in regards to details about the crime, other than noting that “the investigation is ongoing.”
Mark Horn, Rispoli’s good friend for decades, read a statement on behalf of the victim’s husband, family, and community of friends, many of whom gathered for Van Bramer’s press conference.Describing Rispoli as “loving and generous,” Horn said, “He touched so many so deeply. That he was struck down so violently leaves us all speechless with grief.”Horn told Gay City News that even before there was God’s Love We Deliver, Rispoli was cooking meals and delivering them to people with AIDS in the neighborhood. Rispoli’s involvement in LGBT rights went back to the Gay Academic Union in the 1970s. He was also secretary to the legendary out gay composer Virgil Thomson for many years. His family has requested privacy and that his spouse’s name not be used in the press. ~ Gay City News
Rispoli and his husband married on their 31st anniversary in August 2011 after same-sex marraige was legalised in the Empire State last year. The couple met on the subway in 1980 and raised two daughters together.
Horn said, “He was a pillar of the gay community and he was a pillar of this community [of Sunnyside]. Lou was not afraid. He went where he wanted when he wanted.”