Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Parents Of Tyler Clementi Call On NOM To Apologize For Invoking Son’s Suicide To Advance “Anti-Equality Agenda”
The parents of Tyler Clementi are calling for an apology from the National Organization for Marriage for invoking their son's suicide in a recent speech. The remarks came from a talk given by NOM spokeswoman Jennifer Morse to a group of Catholic students at Iowa State University in February. During a Q&A session, Morse encouraged the students to befriend young LGBT who may be struggling with their sexuality. "You don't have to agree with what they're saying they want, but you still can be a good friend to them and give them some support for sexual restraint, for example, which they might not get from anybody else," she said. "They might be getting pressure to be sexually active even in situations that aren't going to be good for them." Morse told the students that gay youth need access to people in the Christian community, rather than "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." As an example, she cited the story of Clementi, the Rutgers freshman from Ridgewood who committed suicide in 2010 after he discovered his roommate had spied on him via webcam during a romantic encounter he had with another man in their dorm room. Audio from Morse's remarks was posted on the gay rights advocacy blog Equality Matters in late February. She said, in part: “Sometimes you hear about these things and, you know, you don’t hear the whole story in the media. That kid Tyler Clementi who killed himself — who threw himself off the George Washington Bridge — do you know this story? Okay, then I'm not going to tell it. I mean, there was a much older man in the picture. In other words, there's usually more to the story, right? And so I think friendship is what you have to offer. There are a lot of situations where people are doing something sexual that’s probably not the best thing for them.” Joseph and Jane Clementi were joined by a number of gay rights groups in decrying Morse's comments, which they said linked his suicide to his contact with other members of the LGBT community. "To exploit our late son's name to advance an anti-equality agenda is offensive and wrong," the Clementis wrote in a statement responding to the comments. "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." The Clementis have been active since their son's suicide in pushing anti-bullying and harassment legislation named in his memory.