End the death penalty now

This week’s execution of Troy Davis drew worldwide attention, but, as a New York Times editorial noted, the case is “in essence, no different from other capital cases”:

Across the country, the legal process for the death penalty has shown itself to be discriminatory, unjust and incapable of being fixed. Just last week, the Supreme Court granted a stay of execution for Duane Buck, an African-American, hours before he was to die in Texas because a psychologist testified during his sentencing that Mr. Buck’s race increased the chances of future dangerousness. Case after case adds to the many reasons why the death penalty must be abolished.

The Task Force whole-heartedly agrees and is a longtime staunch opponent of the death penalty. In 1999, we passed a formal resolution against it, which states:


1. The death penalty in the United States does not act as a deterrent to crime;

2. The death penalty is disproportionately applied to poor people and people of color;

3. The death penalty does not improve a criminal justice system that is plagued with inequities and discrimination against poor people, people of color, and other marginalized groups;

4. At least seventy-five people have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence;

5. Imposition of the death penalty will not reduce the number or severity of hate crimes against members of the GLBT community;

6. There is no conflict between support of hate crime laws, which serve purposes of education and deterrence, and opposition to the death penalty;

7. Imposition of the death penalty is state-sponsored violence, and, rather than ending violence, perpetuates it;

8. The death penalty is considered a fundamental human rights violation under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

9. Imposition of the death penalty undermines the humanity and dignity of all people;

10. Prosecutors in the states of Wyoming and Texas are pursuing the death penalty against the alleged killers of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd;

11. There are alternative criminal sanctions to the death penalty that reflect the severity of crimes against Matthew Shepard, James Byrd, and other victims of violence;

12. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force does not want the interests of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in protecting its members from acts of violence to be cited as support for the death penalty; and

13. Imposition of the death penalty is inconsistent with the mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.


That the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force opposes the use of the death penalty as a criminal sanction.

The death penalty debate clearly is not going away. People continue to get executed on a regular basis in the U.S. On the same day Davis was put to death in Georgia, Texas executed Lawrence 
Russell Brewer, a white supremacist who dragged to death James Byrd Jr., a black man from East Texas. During a recent GOP presidential debate, Rick Perry notoriously received buoyant audience applause for authorizing 234 executions as Texas governor.

We are grateful to those anti-death penalty groups that continue to work tirelessly to end this injustice. They include People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, and others.

The Task Force stands with them in calling for an end to the discriminatory and inhumane death penalty.