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CNN's Roland Martin suspended for tweets

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Pundit Roland Martin poses for a photo at a college football game in September 2011. (Source: @rolandsmartin/Twitter) Pundit Roland Martin poses for a photo at a college football game in September 2011. (Source: @rolandsmartin/Twitter)

(RNN) - An on-air personality and pundit who frequently appeared on CNN has been suspended after he sent out tweets during the Super Bowl that has the LGBT community up in arms.

"If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham's H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him! #superbowl," tweeted Roland Martin, a contributor for CNN since February 2007.

The news network released a statement Wednesday through the Washington Post that said, in part, that the tweets were "regrettable and offensive."

"Language that demeans is inconsistent with the values and culture of our organization, and is not tolerated," the statement said.

GLAAD, a national LGBT rights organization, called for CNN to fire the contributor on Sunday after he told the group through Twitter that they were "clearly out of touch and clueless with what I tweeted."

After CNN announced Martin's suspension the group applauded the move, calling it a "strong stand against anti-LGBT violence and language that demeans any community."

Attempts to reach Martin for comment were unsuccessful.

On Tuesday, Martin posted an apology to his website after he was criticized by GLAAD and the black LGBT rights group, the National Black Justice Coalition, for the tweet as well as another which encouraged violence against a football player dressed in pink.

"I'm disheartened that my words would embolden prejudice," Martin wrote. "While public debate over social issues is healthy, no matter which side someone takes, there is no room for debate as to whether we need to be respectful of others. Violence against gay people or against any other minority isn't a political opinion."

The apology came after he attempted to defend the tweets Monday, writing on his website  that he was "not referring to sexuality directly or indirectly regarding the David Beckham ad," and that he was "sorry folks took it otherwise."

According to Martin, his Beckham tweet was meant to tease soccer fans.

"Even if he meant it in a jovial manner, Roland Martin's words carry a real impact on the everyday lives of black LGBT people, especially our youth," said Sharon Lettman-Hicks, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition.

"Given the number of rash murders, attacks and violent acts involving LGBT people of color, we cannot let statements such as this go unchecked," she said.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found that violence against the LGBT community was on the rise in its most recent report, looking at numbers from 2010. The organization found a 23 percent increase in hate-related murders of LGBT people from 2009.

Martin has taken a negative stance toward LGBT issues in the past. In a Feb. 3, 2006 blog post, he compared the plight of alcoholics, kleptomaniacs and disobedient children to that of gay people.

Martin also was a staunch defendant of comedian Tracy Morgan after he told an audience during a stand-up routine that he would stab his son if he turned out to be gay.

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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