New Port Richey, Florida – After days of deliberation, a Pasco County jury has found John Allen Ditullo, 24, guilty of the March 2006 murder of teenager Kristofer King, whom he thought to be gay. Ditullo, a Neo-Nazi who called himself “Syn,” invaded the home of Patricia Wells whom he slashed with a knife as she slept on a futon. King, a friend of Wells’s openly gay son, Brandon Wininger, ran out of the room where he had been browsing on the internet while Brandon was away. Ditullo attacked 17-year-old King with the knife, stabbing him repeatedly. King died of his wounds in a nearby hospital. Wells recovered. The outrage of the murder was made greater since King died as a case of mistaken identity. Ditullo, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, had an intense hatred of gays, according to testimony given by members of the Neo-Nazi cell group to which he belonged. Rumor had it that Tricia Wells had a relationship going on with a black male, and Ditullo decided to punish the gay youth and his mother for the double transgression of a gay son and an African American boyfriend. The King family acknowledged that Kris and Brandon Wininger were good friends from school, and that Kris King would occasionally stay the night at the Wells’s home with his parents’ permission. Ditullo, 20 at the time of the attack, assumed that the youth trying to flee the home he had invaded was the gay youth he intended to kill, and stabbed Kris King to death. Upon returning to the Neo-Nazi compound where he lived, Ditullo bragged to his fellow skinheads that he had murdered both Wells and her boy. According to testimony by a fellow skinhead and prison-mate, Corey Patnote, Ditullo claimed he was proud of what he had done. Patnote said Ditullio told him, “I killed ’em both, stabbed them in the head.” Prosecutors reminded jurors that Guy King, the murder victim’s father, received a Christmas card from Ditulio, decorated with a tombstone drawn on the front that read, “Rest In Peace. Here Lies Dead Faggot.” The message inside: “I hope your Christmas is full of memories of your dead gay son. Merry f—— Christmas.” After a nearly hung jury re-examined the DNA evidence from the attacks on Wells and King, they brought back a unanimous verdict of guilty against Ditullo on Thursday, December 16. He received 15 years for the attempt on the life of Tricia Wells, which he will serve concurrently with the life sentence for King’s murder. Bay News 9 reports that Charlene Bricken, King’s mother, expressed no sympathy for Ditullo after the trial. “I hope somebody gets him and he dies as brutal a death as my son did,” she said. Bricken, who says the past four years have been terribly difficult for her and the family, wants most of all for her son to be remembered as the generous, open, loving person he was in life.
Austin, Texas – In an apparent gay bashing, a leading gay activist and his male friend were attacked on December 26 outside Austin’s popular nightclub, Rain. Bobby Beltran reported to the Dallas Voice that he and Christopher Ortega had just shared a parting hug outside the club at approximately 1:30 a.m., when a white sedan filled with five angry men stopped in the street shouting homophobic slurs at the couple. Beltran, who helped organize this year’s Queer Bomb in Austin, says that one of the men in the automobile shouted, “Fucking faggots! Cut out that queer shit!” According to On Top Magazine, Beltran yelled back, “That stuff’s not welcome here in Austin. We don’t accept that.” The quintet rushed out of the car, surrounded Beltran and Ortega, and assaulted them with punches, yells, and kicks. The gay men tried to fight off their attackers, and the violence lasted for three of four minutes until one of the assailants warned that police were coming. The attackers were described as two black men, two Latinos, and one white man. Beltran suffered cuts, bruises, and a wounded eye. Ortega suffered a major blow to the jaw that may have broken it. According to the gay men, somewhere between 20 and 30 onlookers witnessed that attack, but none of them lifted a finger to help. In the melee, Beltran shouted out the number of the license plate belonging to the white sedan, but no one bothered to write it down, and he cannot remember it after the fact. The non-responsiveness of the crowd (some of them gay), and the lukewarm response of the Austin Police to the brazen assault, has the LGBTQ community in Austin worried about the safety of a city that was until recently considered gay-friendly. Ortega told local NBC reporters from KXAN, “The response [of the police] was like ‘Sorry guys. We’ll give you a report number. We’ll never catch these guys.’” Beltran said to The Horn, a University of Texas Independent news outlet, “I’ve never in my life been in any kind of violent situation, especially a hate crime, so it’s been pretty traumatic.” Beltran continued. “Austin is supposed to be a gay haven, especially on 4th Street. What scares me even more is that nobody even helped. I’m so afraid to go back down there.” FBI statistics show Austin leads the state of Texas in reported anti-gay attacks for medium-sized cities. Beltran says the hate crime attack on Ortega and himself is the third such violent incident in the capital city this year. In February 2010, for example, two male team members from the Shady Ladies Softball Club were assaulted near the Austin City Hall. The attack on the gay athletes sparked a downtown March Against Hate last March. Beltran posted a photo of his injuries on the web (see above), and commented, “I’m just trying to get the word out there that this is going on in Austin, and it’s not safe right now. To find out that [gay bashing] is here in Austin on 4th Street, and knowing that fellow gay men were not doing anything about it, is just shocking.”
Washington, DC – On a red letter day when lawmakers voted to end the most notorious anti-gay policy in the federal canon, LGBT servicemembers and veterans who have been murdered because of their sexual and gender non-conformity must not be forgotten during the celebrations over passage of repeal of DADT. In a historic vote in the history of the human rights movement, the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly to end the ban on LGBT patriots from serving openly in the armed services of the United States. Saturday afternoon, 65 Senators voted for repeal with 31 in opposition. A simple majority of 51 was all that was required for passage of the Senate bill, which is identical to the one passed earlier in the week by the House of Representatives. Eight GOP Senators joined their Democratic colleagues to pass the repeal of the 17-year-old discriminatory policy that ended the military careers of 13,500 women and men because of their sexual orientation. Joe Manchin, the freshman Senator for West Virginia, was the only Democrat not voting for passage. According to the New York Times, his office informed the public that he had a “family commitment” he could not break.The bill now goes to President Obama for his signature to set the repeal in motion. GOP opponents of the repeal criticized the Democratic leadership of the Senate for the vote in the lame duck session just before the Holiday recess. Senator Carl Levin, the chair of the Senate Armed Service Committee, disputed the Republican claims that Democrats were ramming legislation through just to please the so-called “gay lobby.” In remarks to the New York Times, Senator Levin (D-Michigan) said: “I’m not here for partisan reasons. I’m here because men and women wearing the uniform of the United States who are gay and lesbian have died for this country, because gay and lesbian men and women wearing the uniform of this country have their lives on the line right now.” Yet it is not only for the living that this vote is significant. Our military dead are honored by this historic vote to end anti-LGBT discrimination, among whom are far too many gay servicemembers who were killed because of their sexual orientation. Our gay military martyrs, murdered because of homophobia, heterosexism, and transphobia in the armed services loom large in the memory of the LGBTQ community today because they are both a sign of hope and caution. They are a sign of hope that no more women and men need lose their lives in the military because of their sexual orientation and gender presentation. They are a sign of caution, because the passage of DADT repeal in no way guarantees the end of anti-gay violence in the military. We must name our LGBT military dead until violence against queer servicemembers ceases forever: Seaman Allen Schindler was beaten to death by shipmates in a public toilet in Sasebo, Japan. PFC Barry Winchell was murdered with a baseball bat in the Army barracks at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Seaman August Provost was shot to death on base in San Diego, and then his body was set afire in a guard shack in the vain attempt to destroy evidence of the murder. Army veteran Michael Scott Goucher was lured into a fatal ambush by local youths near his home in Pennsylvania. These four are representative of the many more slaughtered by ignorance and hate by fellow servicemembers and civilians. Pundits say that after President Obama signs the Repeal Act into law, it will still take at least sixty days for the military ban to be lifted for LGBT military personnel. Until that time, the current discriminatory law stays in effect. But the culture of violence that harasses and kills LGBT women and men who wear the uniform remains virulently poised to take more lives until the root of fear is eliminated in the armed services. To that end, the historic passage of the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is simply the beginning of a new campaign, in the name of our gay military martyrs, to replace the fear and loathing of the sexual minority with education and respect.
Washington, DC – By a vote of 63-33, the U.S. Senate has voted to close debate on the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Democrats were joined by four GOP Senators in the vote. One Democrat, Senator Manchin of West Virginia, who is opposed to the repeal, sat the vote out. Overcoming the procedural opposition to Repeal clears the way for final passage of Repeal by a simple majority (51), a vote that may occur as early as today. An identical bill for repeal was passed earlier in the week by the U.S. House of Representatives. Presuming passage of the Repeal Act in the Senate, the bill will go on to the desk of President Obama who has vowed to sign it into law. In the 17 years since Congress voted DADT into law (the most discriminatory law in the federal canon), 13,500 service men and women have been drummed out of the armed forces for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.