Last edited: February 14, 2005

Judge Blasted by Gay Rights Group

Biloxi Sun-Herald, April 11, 2002
205 De Buys Road, Gulfport, MS 39507-2837
Fax: 601-896-2104

By Tracy Dash, The Sun Herald

BENNDALE—A national gay and lesbian rights organization has filed an ethics complaint against a George County Justice Court judge who says homosexuals should be put in mental institutions.

Connie Glenn Wilkerson, who has served as Justice Court judge for six years, wrote a letter to the editor of the George County Times and expressed his opinion about a California law that grants gay partners the same right to sue as spouses or family members.

"In my opinion, gays and lesbians should be put in some type of mental institute instead of having a law like this passed for them," Wilkerson said in the letter, which ran March 28.

Lambda Legal, an organization that raises awareness of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, the transgendered and people with HIV or AIDS, questions Wilkerson’s ability to be impartial in his rulings.

"This letter is a clear statement of prejudice against gays and lesbians that calls into serious question whether the judge can decide cases fairly and impartially," said Greg Nevins, staff attorney in Lambda’s Southern regional office in Atlanta.

Justice Court judges, who are elected officials presiding over the county’s small claims court, are not required to have a law degree or any experience. They only need a high school diploma.

Wilkerson, 65, said he was responding to a national news story out of San Francisco published in the Mississippi Press about a lesbian suing the owners of a dog that attacked and killed her partner. Wilkerson said the letter represents his feelings as a human, not as a judge.

Quoting Scripture to explain his reasons for writing the letter, Wilkerson said he didn’t mean to offend anyone. He said he was "sounding the alarm" that God is not pleased with homosexuality, which he calls a "disease."

"There’s one (person) somewhere that might say, ‘Well, you know I might better take a closer look’" at myself.

The Mississippi Code on Judicial Performance prohibits bias or prejudice "based upon race, gender, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status."

Lambda Legal believes the judge violated that code.

Wilkerson said he will abide by the state’s rules on whether he is permitted to express his opinions in writing. However, Wilkerson said he will continue to do so if the state doesn’t order him to stop.

"I’ve got my own opinions," he said.

  • Tracy Dash can be reached at 896-2340.

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