Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Triangle of Terror: Gays On Their Guard

Police in body armor outside US Holocaust Museum [Shawn Thew/European Pressphoto]

Police in body armor outside US Holocaust Museum (Shawn Thew/European Pressphoto)

Wichita, Kansas, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Washington, DC form a triangle of terror due to a deadly outbreak of bias-motivated murders that began late last month.  On May 31, Dr. George Tiller was shot to death while serving as a usher at his church in Wichita by a lone gunman motivated by a virulent hatred of late term abortions.  Dr. Tillar was one of the most notable physicians who performed late term abortions in the country.  On June 1, Pvt. William Andrew Long was gunned down by a Muslim convert who said that he did so because of all that had been done to Muslims in the Middle East by the United States.  June 10, Security Guard Stephen Tyrone Johns died preventing a white supremacist anti-Semite from shooting his way into the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in the nation’s capitol.  These acts of domestic terrorism are the bitter fruit of hate in the United States.  The Southern Poverty Law Center warned that the numbers and virulence of hate groups in the nation are dramatically escalating in recent months.  Secretary Janet Napolitano, head of the federal Department of Homeland Security, recently warned law enforcement officials about a rise in “rightwing extremist activity,” saying the economic recession, the election of America’s first black president and the return of a few disgruntled war veterans could swell the ranks of white-power militias.  Republican lawmakers and pundits created a firestorm of protest over Sec. Napolitano’s analysis, forcing her to apologize for issuing the report.  Now, in a grim vindication of her warning, terror has hit America’s main streets, not from forces outside our borders, but from home-grown hate groups and lone-wolf perpetrators willing to carry out the sentiments of radical right opinion leaders who set the environment for murder, and then disavow their incitement to violence.  LGBT Americans are rightfully on guard because of the recent history of hate crime murders against them by members of the same groups now attacking abortion clinics, army recruitment offices, and Jewish venues like the Holocaust Museum.

Steven Domer murdered by white supremacist

Steven Domer murdered by white supremacist

Steven Domer of Edmonton, Oklahoma, was brutally murdered in October 2007 by Darrell Madden, a white supremacist recently released from prison.  Madden, a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, garroted Domer with a wire clothes hanger after binding him with duct tape.  Domer’s body was found in a ravine in McClain County.  Investigators believe that Madden’s motive was to earn his “patch” from the Aryan Brotherhood, a sign of distinction awarded to a member who murders a Jew, a black, a homosexual, or anyone deemed to be an “enemy” by the group.  In October 2008, Madden was found guilty of first degree murder and abduction, and sentenced to four consecutive life terms.  The Domer murder and others like it offer a warning to the LGBT community in a time when hostility is clearly on the rise against same-sex marriage, the Matthew Shepard Act, ENDA, and the proposed repeal of both DOMA and DADT.  Hate crime statistics demonstrate an upward spiral of violence in Michigan, Tennessee, Minnesota, and California.  LGBT Americans share the vulnerability of other targeted groups, and decry the violence perpetrated by religious bigotry, misguided nationalism, racial hatred, and misogyny.  The need for the passage of a sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression hate crimes law has never been greater, given the rising tide of bias-related hate crimes chilling whole segments of the American population.  Fear may isolate and paralyze people.  Resolve to face hate and fear with justice and hope can unite people, as well.  Now is the time for coalition building, rejection of irrational hatred wherever it arises, and a mutual commitment to the health and safety of all Americans.  Gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people already know how important vigilance and solidarity in the face of terror are.  So do women, Jews, and Blacks, all of whom have been affected by these deplorable killings in recent weeks.  Perhaps this time those targeted by the radical right will learn how to stand together, and rally the country to repudiate these senseless acts of violence.  We at The Unfinished Lives Project devoutly hope so.

June 11, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Anti-Semitism, Arkansas, California, Kansas, Racism, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, Special Comments, Strangulation, Tennessee, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

   

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