Many of us who are LGBT have endured poor treatment — slights, looks, subtle hostilities. Few of us have our homes burned down because of it. This is what appears to have happened several days ago to Carol Ann and Laura Stutte, long-time life partners who have been together for 15 years and are raising a daughter in the small town of Vonore, Tennessee, just south of Knoxville.
This lesbian couple reported that they received numerous threats from a neighbor–including a threat to “kill them and burn down their house”–over the span of the five years they lived in the town. On September 4th, their house was burned down to the ground and their garage was spray painted with the word “queers.
Gratefully Carol and Laura Stutte were away when the house burned. But they lost everything.
Police have confirmed that this was a case of arson. Investigators are currently conducting interviews about the crime. Tennessee has a hate crime penalty enhancement law that includes property hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation – the federal hate crime statute does not include property crimes. HRC encourages state prosecutors to utilize this penalty enhancement when prosecuting the perpetrator(s).
Find out more about this horrible hate crime and to learn how you can help the couple that has lost everything.