ROLAND MARTIN SPEAKS OUT AGAINST ANTI-LGBT VIOLENCE; GLAAD CALLS ON HIM TO MEET WITH ADVOCATES

CNN remains silent after calls for a statement

Rich Ferraro
Director of Communications, GLAAD
(646) 871-8011
ferraro@glaad.org

February 7, 2012

New York, NY, February 7, 2012 – GLAAD, the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, today responded to an apology made by CNN commentator Roland Martin and called for Martin to meet with GLAAD as well as other LGBT organizations and advocates. GLAAD also called on CNN to speak out against the violence that Martin promoted via Twitter during Super Bowl XLVI.

For more information and Martin’s full apology please visit www.glaad.org/rolandsmartin

On Sunday, Martin tweeted:
“If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham's H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him! #superbowl”
“Who the hell was that New England Patriot they just showed in a head to toe pink suit? Oh, he needs a visit from #teamwhipdatass”

Yesterday, Martin attempted to explain his first tweet by writing that he “was not referring to sexuality directly or indirectly regarding the David Beckham ad, and I’m sorry folks took it otherwise.” However, Martin did not respond to a question from LGBT news outlet Metro Weekly about why, if the tweet was about soccer and not based in anti-gay sentiment, he only referenced his concern about "a dude ... hyped" about the ad.

Last night, Martin posted an apology on his website following continued 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”

For more information and a link to his full apology visit www.glaad.org/rolandsmartin

In response to his apology, GLAAD wrote:

“At a time when anti-gay violence is something suffered by LGBT people and those perceived as LGBT 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 they beat and kicked the man, his attackers screamed “Fa**ot” and other anti-gay slurs. Watch the video:

This is what ‘smacking the ish’ out of someone for being gay can look like.  

Speaking out against anti-LGBT violence on his site is a start, but Martin should use his other platforms to fight against the very things he says he himself experienced.   Media and those in it are very powerful forces in this country.  GLAAD takes that very seriously and we hope that Roland Martin will in the future do so as well, whether it's on CNN or in another outlet. 

Last year, Martin defended Tracy Morgan when he said that if his son was gay he would “take 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 questioned that he had even chosen to done so.   In 2006, when Reverend Al Sharpton urged for unity between the African American and LGBT communities, Martin used it as an opportunity to try to drive a division and advocate for the discredited and abusive practice of so-called “ex-gay” conversion "therapy."  In last night's apology Martin claimed to have always used his voice to "speak progressively."   Clearly that has not been the case.   We hope though in the future it will be.

Ultimately it's up to CNN, viewers and readers to judge Martin's the veracity of and commitment to his words today.  CNN has thus far remained silent.   They should not continue to do so.

The time has come for Roland Martin to put actions behind his words.   We call on him to meet with GLAAD and our partners to discuss how we can work together to address anti-LGBT violence faces communities all across the country.”

Yesterday, Sharon Lettman-Hicks, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition, the nation’s largest black LGBT civil rights organization, also spoke out:

“Even if he meant it in a jovial manner, Roland Martin’s words carry a real impact on the everyday lives of Black LGBT people, especially our youth. Given the number of rash murders, attacks and violent acts involving LGBT people of color, we cannot let statements such as this go unchecked. Silence is a form of acceptance and only perpetuates the problem.”