Mat Staver, the founder of the anti-LGBT law firm Liberty Counsel, has a message for his organization’s followers: Please send money so we can shorten the sentence of a man convicted of an anti-LGBTQ hate crime.
Staver never mentions in his press release that the individual in question, Adolfo Martinez, has a lengthy rap sheet and received a hefty sentence thanks to prior convictions. Martinez was convicted and sentenced to 16 years in prison in Iowa after burning an LGBTQ flag. Staver also fails to mention that Iowa has mandatory three-strikes sentencing guidelines that were passed by Republicans in the state legislature.
BBC News reports that Martinez, 30, told reporters that he took the flag from the Ames United Church of Christ because he dislikes gay people.
In November he was convicted of hate crime harassment, reckless use of fire, and of being a habitual offender. According to police, Martinez’s crime spree began after he started harassing people at a local gay strip club. Bar staff had already kicked him out by the time police arrived. Not content to leave things at that, Martinez stopped at the church in Ames, Iowa, and tore the LGBTQ flag down. Then he returned to the bar, doused the flag in lighter fluid and set it on fire. He also threatened to set the bar on fire.
Upon his arrest, he told the media he was “guilty as charged.”
“It was an honor to do that. It’s a blessing from the Lord,” he said, adding that he did this because he “opposed homosexuality.”
“I burned down their pride, plain and simple,” he told a local news station. That interview was provided as evidence in his trial.
All of this is lost on Staver, who never mentioned this in his press release. Instead he complains about people burning the U.S. flag and the Supreme Court.
“The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1990 that burning the American flag is First Amendment protected speech,” he wrote. But if you burn an LGBT flag, it’s another story. An Iowa court just sentenced a man to 16 years in prison after he torched an LGBT flag.”
Staver waves off Martinez’s crimes as if he was a minor offender.
“What he did was wrong, but no one was hurt or verbally threatened. Sixteen years is an extreme and disproportionate sentence,” he wrote. “It’s an ominous signal of LGBT power and the growing threat it poses to your freedom and mine.”
Staver also noted his opposition to the Equality Act, a measure passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in March 2019, and commended those who fought against it.
“That’s why — with your help — we fought throughout this year to STOP the radical LGBT assault on freedom misnamed as the ‘Equality Act.'”
The act seeks to offer protections that are currently lacking for LGBTQ people, especially in regards to housing, employment, education, federally funded programs, and a number of other areas.
Featured image via screen grab