By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com September 02 2011 1:55 PM ET
The family of a man who was slain in Waterloo, Iowa, say police shouldn't investigate his death as a hate crime because they claim he was not gay — while others say his sexual orientation is irrelevant and inappropriate to discuss.
Marcellus Andrews was beaten to death August 19 by assailants who witnesses said used homophobic slurs. But the state is not investigating his murder as a hate crime. His family met Tuesday with another 50 people to discuss
violence and human rights in their community at Jubilee United Methodist
Church. Cousin Renicia Haywood said that acting effeminately doesn't necessarily make Marcellus Andrews gay.
Nichella Andrews, the victim's sister, said she supports the police's decision to stop treating the attack as a hate crime, according to the WDF Courier newspaper. She claims witness accounts of the incident have been blown out of proportion.
"They didn't come to beat him up because he was gay," she said. "There's more to the story."
But whether Marcellus Andrews was gay or not makes no difference in the eyes of the law, points out Jim Day, vice president of the Black Hawk County branch of the NAACP.
"Gay or not, perceived as gay still ends up being a hate crime under those conditions," he told the Courier. "Perception of gay and being gay still both qualify."