Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Lesbian Couple’s Home Burned In Hate Crime

Vonore, Tennessee – The home of a Monroe County, Tennessee lesbian couple was burned to the ground and their garage defaced by anti-gay graffiti in what is believed to be a hate crime. On Saturday, September 4, the house was set ablaze, and the word “Queer” was spray painted on two sides of the family garage, which was left standing.  WATE, Channel 6, Knoxville reports that the couple, Carol and Laura Stutte, had been threatened in August by a neighbor who said he was going to burn their house down because they were lesbian.  He also threatened their lives, according to Stutte.  They reported the threat to the police, but there is no report as to the status of the complaint at this time.  The couple, who have been together 15 years, moved to Vonore from Oklahoma. The crime occurred while the Stutte’s were celebrating their fifth anniversary in Tennessee with friends in Nashville.  At present, the couple is in a safe house in Nashville while the investigation is going forward.  They have no plans to return to the property, and are staying away out of prudence and fear.  Other neighbors have defended the couple, saying that lesbians make good neighbors, and are welcome in Vonore. Members of the community, especially PFLAG of Maryville, and the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church are responding with funds and household goods, since the couple has lost everything.  As Becky Lucas, president of PFLAG Maryville said, “We are hopeful that the authorities will investigate it fully and that this couple will get justice. I think this happens every day to people in this community and many times they don’t speak up because they are afraid. Everybody deserves basic human rights.”  Lucas went on to say to reporters, “We want to send a message to this couple and other couples like them — you do have many allies in this area. Many people in the community are just as outraged as I am.” Care2.com reports that no determination has yet been made by local authorities about whether the incident will be classified an hate crime.  According to Care2, “Detective Travis Jones, with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, has confirmed that the department is investigating the arson with the aid of the state Bomb and Arson Squad, that there are ‘people of interest’ in the case.”  The lesbians say that they would like to remain in the area, but they would never rebuild on the same site.

September 13, 2010 - Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Arson, death threats, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Lesbian women, PFLAG, Slurs and epithets, Tennessee, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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