US: Parents of Tyler Clementi demand apology from anti-gay group for speech referring to their son’s suicide

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The parents of Tyler Clementi, the teenager who committed suicide in 2010, have demanded an apology from an anti-equal marriage advocacy group, the spokeswoman for which recently referred to his death during a speech.

The 18-year-old killed himself by jumping off a bridge in September 2010, just weeks into his first year at the university after a gay romantic encounter was filmed and broadcast by his roommate.

Jane and Joseph Clementi have requested an apology from the National Organisation for Marriage after Jennifer Roback Morse, president of the National Organization for Marriage’s Ruth Institute, referred to Tyler’s suicide in a speech at Iowa State University.

She was speaking to a group of Catholic students at the university back in February, and urged them to discourage gay peers from becoming sexually active.

“That kid Tyler Clementi who killed himself — who threw himself off the George Washington Bridge”, she said.

“I mean, there was a much older man in the picture…And so I think friendship is what you have to offer. There are a lot of situations where people are doing something sexual that’s probably not the best thing for them and it would be better if they had somebody who’d be friends with them without coming on to them or without judging them.”

Jane and Joseph Clementi called Morse’s comments “ludicrous”, for linking their son’s suicide support from LGBT peers.

“To exploit our late son’s name to advance an anti-equality agenda is offensive and wrong,” the Clementis said in a statement.

“By doing so, National Organization for Marriage proves that not only is there no low they will not sink to, to advance their cruel agenda — but that neither they nor Ms Morse have any grip on reality. The very idea that Tyler’s tragedy happened because of too much support — instead of not enough — is ludicrous. Shame on them.”

GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign, as well as the Clementis called for the apology from NOM.

“This is among the more reprehensible tactics we’ve seen from NOM,” GLAAD President Herndon Graddick said in a statement. “They’re using Tyler’s story to pit young people against their own peers.”

The case of Tyler’s suicide attracted national attention in the US, including comment from President Obama, and prompted anti-bullying measures. Clementi, a Ridgewood native, committed suicide in September 2010 during his freshman year at Rutgers University after his roommate secretly recorded and broadcast his romantic encounter with another man in their dorm room.

Roommate Dharun Ravi was convicted last year of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation and other counts and served less than a month in jail. He is now appealing his conviction.

Rutgers University has announced that they will open the Tyler Clementi Centre, which will create programmes to help people transition to college.