The president of the Family Research Council outlined at a press conference yesterday that he opposes charging Floyd Corkins, the homosexual advocate who shot the building operations manager in the lobbying group’s headquarters on Wednesday, with a hate crime.
Tony Perkins, whose organization has consistently spoken out against hate crime legislation, reiterated that he does not believe that certain acts of violence should be elevated above others.
“I’m not a big supporter of the hate crimes statute. What I believe is that if you commit an act of violence, it is a crime. I don’t care why you do it, you did it,” he told reporters.
Corkins, 28, of Herndon, Virginia had reportedly entered the lobby of the Family Research Council Wednesday morning with a 9 mm Sig Sauer pistol that he had purchased recently from a local gun shop. He was also carrying a backpack that contained two loaded magazines of bullets with fifteen rounds in each, and more than a dozen Chick-fil-A sandwiches, which some believe he was going to use to mark each attack.
After yelling at Leo Johnson, the building operations manager who doubles as a security guard, that he “did not like [the group’s] policies, Corkins opened fire, shooting Johnson in the arm. Johnson and others then tackled Corkins and held him until police arrived, stopping him from doing further damage.
Both the Washington, D.C. Police Department and the FBI have been investigating the matter, and have been contemplating whether to charge Corkins with a hate crime.
Many note, however, that Family Research Council has long opposed hate crime legislation, and even outlines its stance on its website.
“Violent attacks upon people or property are already illegal, regardless of the motive behind them. With ‘hate crime’ laws, however, people are essentially given one penalty for the actions they engaged in, and an additional penalty for the politically incorrect thoughts that allegedly motivated those actions,” writes Vice President Peter Sprigg. “We oppose all thought crime laws in principle, because penalizing people specifically for their thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes — even ones abhorrent to us and to the vast majority of Americans, such as racism — would undermine the freedom of speech and thought at the heart of our democracy.”
Michael Marcavage, director of the Philadelphia-based evangelistic organization Repent America, who was charged with a hate crime under Pennsylvania state law in 2004, says that he agrees with Perkins and Sprigg.
Marcavage and ten other Christians, who became known as “The Philadelphia Eleven,” were arrested while witnessing at a homosexual event known as “OutFest.” Marcavage was taken into custody while walking down the street singing the song “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord,” while others witnessed, held signs or distributed tracts. Two grandmothers and a teenage minor were among those arrested and charged with a hate crime for their outreach.
All eleven faced up to 47 years in prison and a $90,000 fine, but were exonerated months later after the charges were found to be without merit.
“Having been arrested, jailed and charged with a ‘hate crime,’ I can tell you that hate crime laws are unnecessary, unconstitutional and unGodly,” Marcavage stated. “It is already a crime to injure anyone, and it is unconstitutional to elevate certain classes of people as having greater protections than others. All men should be guaranteed equal protection under the law.”
“There is no question that Corkins hates God and those who stand for His law,” he continued. “However, he should face the courts for his actions, not his beliefs.”
Those who agree believe that hate crimes laws give preferential treatment to homosexuals and other groups, while leaving children, the disabled and the elderly as being inferior or second-class citizens under the law.
However, many others opine that Corkins should indeed be charged with a federal hate crime if his motivations are found to be religiously or politically-based.
“The FRC, while a political organization, is one that stakes out conservative positions based on its interpretation of Christian positions, making the attack a possible hate crime based upon religion. As logical as this may seem, proving such a motive as a legal matter might very well be a difficult one to accomplish in court, so the incident may not actually be charged as a hate crime. This, however, should not stifle the condemnation or analysis of the incident as a hate crime,” writes Brian Levin of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. “If we are going to address the problem we must analyze and condemn it no matter which end of the ideological spectrum it comes from.”
“One of the key characteristics of terrorism that our Center uses is the use of threat or force for political or social purposes in attempt to bypass the institutions and processes of our pluralistic democracy, particularly when directed against a definable subgroup,” he continued. “The limited evidence available still points in that direction, and until the facts establishes otherwise, this brutal act should be analyzed and condemned in that context.”
While Perkins does not want Corkins to be charged with a hate crime, he did state that he agrees with the FBI in classifying Wednesday’s incident as an act of domestic terrorism.
“When you talk about acts of domestic terrorism, terrorism is to intimidate and marginalize and silence a portion of the population. I think this could very well fit in that category,” he stated at yesterday’s press conference.
He noted that groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and others that have labeled Family Research Council a “hate group” have inspired such violence.
“Let me be very clear here that Floyd Corkins was responsible for the wounding of one of our colleagues and friends at the Family Research Council,” Perkins stated. “But, I believe he was given a license to do that by a group such as the Southern Poverty Law Center who labeled us a hate group because we defend the family and stand for traditional orthodox Christianity. … I think it’s time for people to realize what the Southern Poverty Law Center is doing with their reckless labeling of organizations they disagree with.”
“Terrorism is designed to intimidate and to drive people back and make them feel fearful. Well, that I believe would describe what they tried to do here yesterday at the Family Research Council and by extension to traditional value supporters, Christians across the nation,” he outlined earlier in the day on Fox News. “But I want to tell you it’s not going to work. We’re not going anywhere. We’re more committed today than we were yesterday to defending and advancing faith, family and freedom here in our nation’s capital.”
Corkins currently faces federal charges of carrying a firearm across state lines and assault with intent to kill. The maximum punishment carries a sentence of 40 years in prison.