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National Organization For Marriage Uses Tyler Clementi Suicide To Tout Anti-Gay Agenda

03/05/2013 10:47 am ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

During a recent college appearance, a spokeswoman for a pro-marriage conservative group used Tyler Clementi's suicide to promote an anti-gay agenda.

Jennifer Morse, president of the National Organization for Marriage's (NOM) Ruth Institute, spoke to Catholic students at Iowa State University last month about marriage and sexuality, according to Equality Matters. During her speech, the NOM spokeswoman mentioned Clementi while discussing the exploitation of gay youth by equality activists.

New Jersey native Clementi was a freshman at Rutgers University in September 2010, when he committed suicide after his roommate and another freshman secretly recorded him kissing a man in his dorm room.

“There are a lot of situations where people are doing something sexual that’s probably not the best thing for them," Morse said to her audience at Iowa State. According to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), she used Clementi as an example of LGBT youth who turn to the wrong people for support.

Morse's Feb. 17 talk did not mention how Clementi was a bullying victim, but rather suggested he could have used a friend who was able to be there "without coming onto them or without judging them and that kind of stuff." She also alleged gay activists do not help in situations with troubled youths.

From Morse's address, via Equality Matters:

We get this idea that the gay rights movement is very militant and they’re demanding this and pushing that, but when you really get down to it, a lot of the young people are quite confused and lonely and need help and support and they’re getting help and support not from the Christian community, they’re getting help and support from the gay activists who have their own thing that they’re doing which is not necessarily to help the individuals but they’ve got some sort of political vision.

Morse's anti-gay remarks offended Clementi's family, who have demanded an apology, according to CBS affiliate station WLNY in New York.

“To exploit our late son’s name to advance an anti-equality agenda is offensive and wrong,” his parents said in a news release obtained by the Advocate. “By doing so, the 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, the Human Rights Campaign and Equality Matters joined Clementi's parents in calling for an apology.

"This is among the more reprehensible tactics we've seen from NOM, and this is a group whose internal documents touted the use of racially-motivated tactics to pit Black and Latino people against their own LGBT friends, neighbors and family members," GLAAD President Herndon Graddick said in a statement. "Now they're using Tyler's story to pit young people against their own peers."

NOM's Ruth Institute promotes "traditional marriage" for the purpose of procreation with an overall goal of "making marriage cool."

Listen to a recording of Jennifer Morse's speech (below).

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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