Kaitlyn Hunt, an eighteen year old high school senior from Florida, has become a cause célèbre of the gay rights movement as of late. According to initial reports, largely filled with information from Hunt’s parents, the teen was involved in a consensual lesbian relationship with another student whose parents strongly disapproved. The other student’s parents, according to Hunt’s mother, “blamed” Hunt for turning their daughter into a lesbian and wanted to punish Hunt for their relationship. Subsequently, Hunt was expelled from school and was later charged as a felon.

It turns out, after more information emerged, that Hunt’s mother was making some exaggerated claims. The reason that Kaitlyn Hunt was charged was not due to anti-gay bias, but because the other girl was only fourteen at the time of their relationship. The felony charge was for statutory rape.

Now, we have a bizarre situation emerging. Some in the gay rights community have begun to lift Hunt up as a gay rights martyr, and an online petition for the charges to be dropped has already garnered over 300,000 signatures. The #FreeKate hashtag on Twitter has also built steam.

This is troubling because, as blogger Robert Stacy McCain points out, they are defending someone for committing an act of rape:

Look: Gay people are quitting gay-rights groups rather than go along to support this embarrassingly creepy agenda.
What is it with people who, the minute they hear words like “rights” and “equality” and “progress,” just stop thinking altogether?
Have you people lost your cotton-picking minds? Even if you think that, does it not occur to you that maybe you shouldn’t write it?
If there were an annual competition for Most Stupid Thing Said on Social Medai, the “Free Kate” crowd would sweep the prizes this year.

McCain is exactly right. Those in the LGBT movement who are blindly supporting Kaitlyn Hunt as a martyr of equal rights are doing so despite the fact that the mounting evidence against her suggests she did in fact commit an act of statutory rape.

Want to know what would actually be more demonstrative of equal rights? Sending Kate to court and actually trying the case.

Statutory rape cases involving teenage boys and underage girls are an unfortunately common occurrence in the United States. As teens become more sexually active, you end up with relationships with seventeen- and eighteen-year-old boys dating fourteen- and fifteen-year-old girls. If those girls fall below a state’s legal age of consent, the boys involved are technically committing a crime by engaging in any form of consensual sexual activity with them. And parents who disapprove of those relationships can – and often do – press charges.

The Kaitlyn Hunt case is unique not because it is a statutory rape case. Again, those are common enough. It is unique because her sexual orientation is drawing a massive amount of political attention to her cause. Because she is a lesbian, her most ardent supporters somehow think that her sexuality MUST be the reason for people to charge her with a crime. There’s no other possible cause!

…Except that it appears she actually did commit a crime. And that’s where the #FreeKate supporters are going wrong. They think that they are promoting LGBT equality by shielding one of their members from punishment, when in fact they are doing the exact opposite: by trying to shield Kaitlyn Hunt from legal prosecution, they are in effect seeking a special exemption from normal laws because of her status as a lesbian. They are promoting unequal protection under the law, plain and simple.

If the #FreeKate movement wants all LGBT persons to be treated equally, that equality isn’t just limited to legal privileges. Legal responsibilities are just as important, and that includes punishments for the commission of crimes.
In this case, true LGBT equality under the law would ensure Kate sees her day in court.



David Giffin | Emory University | @D_Giffin