The LGBT community has worked tirelessly to reach the recognition we deserve. We debunked the idea that we were sick. We’ve taken long strides in getting stricter penalties for biased-based crimes on the basis of sexual orientation. We’ve successfully lobbied for the repeal of Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell. We’ve triumphed in some cases and continue to work diligently to bring marriage equality to all American citizens. We’e dismissed the ignorant when they’ve lumped us together with rapists, pedophiles, thieves and murderers. Yet, we are gambling our reputation and hard work by affiliating with and supporting a woman’s criminal case involving having sex with a minor.
18-year-old high school senior, Kaitlyn Hunt of Florida recently found herself on the wrong side of the law. She had been in an intimate relationship with a 14-year-old female who played along side her on their high school basketball team. The 14-year-old’s parents believe Kaitlyn coerced their daughter into becoming a “homosexual.” After discovering Hunt’s relationship with their daughter, the 14-year-old parents took the matter to the police department. The prosecutor’s office is now pursuing two counts of lewd and lascivious acts against a minor against Kaitlyn Hunt. She recently rejected a plea deal of a lesser charge of child abuse and will likely be taking her chances in a Florida courtroom.
In Florida, it is illegal for anyone to have sex with a minor under the age of 16. There is a close-in age proximity, commonly known as a “Romeo and Juliet” law that allows those up to the age of 23 to have sexual relations with someone 16 or 17. Since Hunt’s “victim” was below the age of 16, her actions were considered illegal. This story has soared to international notoriety, partly through garnering support from celebrities and athletes. The LGBT community has embraced Kaitlyn’s case and has paraded it around as matter of inequality. I won’t deny the fact that this case has roots in homosexuality, but it’s important to separate this criminal act from homosexuality. When a male has an intimate relationship with a female, we don’t see headlines proclaiming the man to be straight. The criminal case has nothing to do with Kaitlyn’s lesbianism. It’s a mistake for the gay community to be outspoken about this issue. Embracing Kaitlyn’s case has and will continue to hinder the fight for equality in America. The opposition is already using this case as ammunition against us. “The gay community is trying to legalize pedophilia, just like we predicted,” they say.
If I said I didn’t feel sympathy towards Kaitlyn Hunt, I’d be lying. I do feel sorry for her. But first and foremost, it’s important to remember Kaitlyn Hunt broke the law. She committed a crime not because she’s a lesbian, but because her underage girlfriend cannot consent to physical intimacy. People say the prosecutor is being heavy-handed because Hunt is a lesbian; they say the parents of the 14-year-old are homophobic. They say the 14-year-old’s parents should have solved the issue parent to parent instead of through the criminal justice system, but ultimately it is the choice of the minor’s parents to pursue criminal charges against Kaitlyn.
I’m disappointed in how so many people are using this as a platform for the gay community when we should really be steering clear of this case. Here is a sampling of the attention Kaitlyn’s case is getting in the LGBT and media circles.
– The online LGBT magazine, The Advocate used the following title for one of their news articles – “Florida Teen Facing Sex Offender Charge for Consensual Same-Sex Relationship” – This title is misleading and misinforming people. Florida states a minor can consent to sexual relationships once they turn 16 and their partner is 23 or younger. Children that are 15 and younger cannot consent to sexual contact, therefore Kaitlyn’s relationship cannot be consensual. Neal Broverman of The Advocate writes, “Florida Teen Arrested, Expelled for Same-Sex Relationship.” Andy Towle, a popular LGBT blogger wrote a blog post on Kaitlyn’s arrest using this misleading headline; “Girl Arrested and Expelled from High School Over Gay Relationship.” The liberal news outlet, Huffington Post announces, “Kaitlyn Hunt, Florida Teen, Faces Felony Charges Over Same-Sex Relationship.” Chris Hayes, liberal commentator on MSNBC said Kaitlyn Hunt’s case is an “LGBT injustice.” Radio host of the Michael Signorile Show on SiriusXM’s Out-Q channel, Michael Signorile also responded to an article stating this case is “outrageous” on Twitter.
— Mike Signorile (@MSignorile) May 19, 2013
Model and self-proclaimed LGBT activist, Colby Melvin tweeted a link to the above Huffington Post with this added commentary:
— Colby Melvin (@colbymelvin) May 21, 2013
This is a case of an adult having sex with a minor that cannot consent to a physically intimate relationship. This story is tarnishing the gay rights movement and setting it back. I am disappointed in the gay community and how they have reacted to this story and continue to do so.
If people believe the age of consent laws need to change, then I say more power to them. Don’t drag homosexuality into the mix where it doesn’t belong. Irrational anti-gay groups and individuals will continue to run away with the gay community’s unofficial public relations response to Kaitlyn Hunt’s case. They will plaster it all over the media in close battleground states proclaiming what they’ve argued about is finally coming true. Conservative groups will proclaim gay people want undefined access to underage children and the only way we can combat this is by defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Take a step aside folks. If we continue to adopt Kaitlyn Hunt’s case as a gay rights issue and a matter of equality, then we had better man our battle stations, because the hurdles standing in our way towards true equality just got higher.