In Tennessee, a lesbian couple’s home was burned to the ground in a possible arson hate crime (emphasis added):
Carol Stutte says her partner is too afraid to come back to the property since the fire. She says they’ve been harassed all five years they’ve lived there by one neighbor.
She also says recently the neighbor threatened to kill them and burn down their house,” Stutte said. “I knew we had been threatened, but we never thought anything would be followed through,”
Lora Black, the Stutte’s neighbor and friend, was with the couple in Nashville when they learned their home was on fire.
“Right now, they are just terrified that our county is feeling like this about homosexual couples. Most homosexual couples are no different than any other couples,” Black said.
The Stuttes are staying in a safe house until investigators can determine what happened the night of the fire.
“I would really like to see them get help,” Carol Stutte said. “I don’t want anyone else to go through what we’ve gone through and live through the fear we’ve gone through.”
The couple says they have no plans to return to the property.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI are investigating the fire as a possible hate crime. Investigators have called in the state Bomb and Arson Squad to help.
The sheriff’s office received one complaint of harassment from the couple in August.
The neighbor the Stuttes say made the threat declined to go on camera.
This fucking makes me sick. From. Dallas Voice, with donation link below:
The two women believe that the fire was the latest — and worst — in a string of anti-gay incidents that have plagued them since shortly after they moved into the house, things like having nails strewn across their driveway and the lug nuts on their boat trailer loosened. Plus, Carol Ann told KnoxNews.com, there were the threats and insults from a neighbor who once told them this “joke”: What’s better than a dead queer? Two dead queers.
The neighbor, Carol Ann said, had also told them she would burn their house down.
For five years, Carol Ann said she and Laura chose to just “turn the other cheek” and try to “keep the peace.” But in August, they reached a breaking point and reported the ongoing harassment and vandalism to the sheriff’s department. (Go to KnoxNews.com to see video of the two women talking about the fire.)
For several days after the fire, the Stuttes didn’t talk to anyone about what had happened. When they finally did go public, the community responded. A special fund has been set up for them at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville (yes, that is the same church where a man opened fire during a children’s production of “Annie” back in 2008 because he was angry over the church’s liberal bent). Ben Byers withTennessee Equality Project’s Knoxville committee said a benefit concert is planned, and the Maryville chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays is accepting contributions of clothing and toiletries for the women and dog food for their three dogs who survived the fire.
If you want to help, you can contact either the church or the PFLAG chapter. If you want to send a message of support, you can do that at the “We Support The Stutte Family” Facebook page.