Find the most recent XGW coverage of Kirk Talley here.

August 6, 2004

The antigay Southern Baptist who attempted to extort money from southern gospel singer Kirk Talley was sentenced Aug. 4 to 20 months in prison and ordered to pay Talley $100,000 in restitution.

According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel (free subscription required), Talley lost as much as $420,000 in canceled concerts, commissions and merchandise sales when it was publicly disclosed that Talley had been struggling with sexual orientation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney A. William Mackie said Walbert K. Farmer, 39, targeted Talley because Farmer “saw Mr. Talley as a vulnerable victim because of sexual orientation.”

“This was a hate crime,” Mackie said. “Did (Farmer) seek at any time as a purported Christian to help Mr. Talley through a preacher? No. He is claiming to be a moral person who is outraged when, in fact, he is a person who had a well-orchestrated plan to get money.”

Read Mackie’s comments again. An attorney, acting on behalf of a singer seeking ex-gay counseling, appealed to popular opposition to hate crimes.

It’s interesting to see hate-crime concerns raised in sentencing an antigay crime against someone connected with the ex-gay movement. This event raises a couple questions:

1) Should race-, religion-, or sex-based extortion be prosecuted more harshly than extortion solely for profit? If not, then why raise the issue in court?
2) Will the ex-gay movement leaders re-evaluate their opposition to hate-crime laws or their denial that hate crimes are a serious problem?
3) Much of the online conservative Christian commentary about Talley has been quite hateful. How many Southern Baptists identify in some way with the “moral outrage” of the extortionist? How forgiving is that?

Find previous XGW coverage of Kirk Talley here. Thanks to Ray Whiting for the heads-up.

Update, Aug, 21, 2004: In an e-mailed newsletter dated today, Kirk Talley reports to his supporters that he has concluded a six-month period of retreat and redemption. He is resuming concerts, attending Maranatha Church of the Harvest in Lenoir City, Tenn., and continuing counseling. He thanks a long list of people, including his ex-gay counselors. Interested individuals may subscribe to Talley’s newsletter here.

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