CNN political analyst Roland Martin posted an apology on his website following calls from GLAAD, the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), bloggers, advocates and thousands of Americans. Wrote Martin:
"To those who construed my comment as being anti-gay or homophobic or advancing violence, I'm truly sorry. I can certainly understand how someone could come to a different conclusion than the one I meant. I'm disheartened that my words would embolden prejudice. While public debate over social issues is healthy, no matter which side someone takes, there is no room for debate as to whether we need to be respectful of others."
Violence against gay people or against any other minority isn't a political opinion. At a time when anti-gay violence afflicts countless LGBT and LGBT-perceived people in this country every day, prominent figures like Martin should condemn, not promote, such violence.
Yesterday afternoon, a video of a young man being brutally assaulted after exiting a grocery store was posted on LGBT news sites. As the perpetrators beat and kicked their victim, the attackers screamed "Fa**ot" as well as other anti-gay slurs.
Last year, Martin defended Tracy Morgan when Morgan said that if his son were gay, he would "pull out a knife and stab him." After Morgan apologized by saying he does not "believe that anyone should be bullied or just made to feel bad about who they are," Martin said he would not have chosen to do so. In 2006, when Reverend Al Sharpton urged for unity between the African American and LGBT communities, Martin used it as an opportunity to drive a wedge and advocate for the discredited and abusive practice of so-called "ex-gay" conversion "therapy." In his most recent apology, Martin claimed to have always used his voice to "speak progressively." Clearly that has not been the case; we hope in the future that it will be.
Speaking out on his website against anti-LGBT violence and sharing his personal story about bullying is a start, but Martin must use other platforms to fight against the very torments he says he himself experienced. Media and industry professionals are very powerful forces in this country. GLAAD takes that influence very seriously and we hope that in the future Roland Martin will do the same, whether it's on CNN, TV One or in any other outlet.
Ultimately, it's up to CNN, its audience, and those affected by Martin's remarks to judge the veracity of, and Martin's commitment to, his statement. CNN has thus far remained silent. The network should not continue to do so.
GLAAD continues to believe that CNN can find responsible, diverse voices who do not have a history of advocating or making excuses for violence toward anyone. The network now has to decide.
The time has come for Roland Martin to put actions behind his words. GLAAD calls on him to meet with us and our partners to discuss how we can work together to address the staggering rates of anti-LGBT violence that continues to face our community today.
Read more at www.glaad.org/rolandsmartin