NEW YORK – Today, the family of Tyler Clementi was joined by GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and Equality Matters in calling on Jennifer Morse of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) to apologize for her recent speech to Iowa State University students on February 17, in which she used the story of Tyler Clementi’s death as an example of why it is “not the best thing” to let lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people be friends with other LGBT people, or be supported by the LGBT community.
Clementi, who died by suicide, was a student at Rutgers University when his roommate secretly recorded video of him kissing another man. Morse mentioned Clementi’s story, saying, “There are a lot of situations where people are doing something sexual that’s probably not the best thing for them…” Morse used Clementi as an example of LGBT youth who she claimed are, “… getting help and support from the gay activists who have their own thing that they’re doing which is not necessarily to help the individuals but they’ve got some sort of political vision.”
“To exploit our late son’s name to advance an anti-equality agenda is offensive and wrong,” said Joe and Jane Clementi, the parents of Tyler Clementi. “By doing so, National Organization for Marriage prove that not only is there no low they will not sink to, to advance their cruel agenda – but that neither they nor Ms. Morse have any grip on reality. The very idea that Tyler’s tragedy happened because of too much support – instead of not enough – is ludicrous. Shame on them.”
“This is among the more reprehensible tactics we’ve seen from NOM, and this is a group whose internal documents touted the use of racially-motivated tactics to pit Black and Latino people against their own LGBT friends, neighbors and family members,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “Now they’re using Tyler’s story to pit young people against their own peers.”
“That NOM would invoke Tyler as a part of spreading their hateful messages shows a real lack of moral compass,” said HRC Vice President of Communications Fred Sainz. “This is more proof that NOM is not in tune with mainstream America but instead is driven by the fringe agenda of a few secretive anti-gay donors. NOM should do the right thing and immediately apologize to the Clementi family.”
“Morse’s comments make clear that NOM isn’t just interested in stopping marriage equality. It’s an organization that seeks to marginalize and stigmatize the LGBT community as a whole, even if that means exploiting the death of an 18-year-old college student. Though she claimed to be interested in helping LGBT youth in her speech, her comments really reveal the depths of NOM’s anti-gay animus,” said Equality Matters’ Carlos Maza.
Morse’s speech is just one among many instances in which she and NOM have promoted harmful misinformation under the guise of supporting families and young people. Just one day prior to these comments, Morse spoke at the Catholic Women’s Conference, comparing support for marriage equality to “making yourself feel good about doing something that is deeply wrong.” Morse also recently told Lutheran Public Radio that acceptance of same-sex relationships can be compared to acceptance of incest. Many more of the outrageous and offensive claims Morse and NOM have made about LGBT people are included in GLAAD’s Commentator Accountability Project and in HRC’s ‘NOM Exposed’ website.