Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Convicted Murderer of Gay Man Gets Parole; LGBTQ Community Vows to Fight It

Convicted Killer Jon Buice to be paroled in October 2011

Houston, Texas – With less than half his sentence served, the convicted murderer of a Houston gay man is to be paroled.  The LGBTQ community and crime victims’ advocates are up in arms to stop it.  Jon Buice, the last incarcerated member of the infamous “Woodlands Ten” who murdered 27-year-old Paul Broussard on July 4, 1991, is going free unless the Parole Board changes its mind.  In a 2-0 decision handed down on Friday, the board unanimously acted to approve Buice’s parole over the protests of his victim’s mother.  Nancy Rodriguez, who has stalwartly advocated for Buice to remain behind bars throughout the years, has told KHOU-TV that she has asked the members of the board to reconsider their decision.

Paul Broussard’s killing made national headlines in 1991 as a clear case of cold blooded hate crime murder.  A gang of teens traveled from the Woodlands, an upscale northern suburb of Houston, to the Montrose neighborhood, looking for gays to bash.  Their ploy was to ask a man on the street to direct them to a gay bar, and then, assuming his answer would incriminate him as a gay man, to assault and abduct him for a night of terror. Broussard, a young, unsuspecting banker, became their target.  The youths dragged him to a park where they savagely attacked him with their fists, steel-toed boots, nail-studded two-by-fours, and a knife.  Buice, who wielded the knife, stabbed Broussard three times with vicious efficiency, and “gutted him like a deer,” according to one commentator.  Of the ten in the gang, five received significant jail time.  Buice was sentenced to 45 years in prison because he did the slashing and stabbing of the innocent gay man.

Paul Broussard and his mother, Nancy Rodriguez

In the years since the trial, all but Buice have been released into society.  Because of the heinous nature of the stabbing, Buice had been successfully kept in prison until now.  In prison, he has earned college degrees, and some say he has been a “model inmate.” Based on the assessment of his advocates, Buice has claimed he has been rehabilitated and no longer offers and threat to society. Paul Broussard’s mother is not buying it.  As reported in this blog last year, when parole was denied her son’s killer, Nancy Rodriguez has said that any remorse on Buice’s part is too-little-too-late, and is fabricated by his desire to get out of jail. Mrs. Rodriguez has often said that she prayed her son’s killer would stay in prison for at least 27 years–one year in captivity for each year of Paul’s unfinished life.

Reaction to the Parole Board’s decision was swift.  Andy Kahan, crime victims’ family advocate, told KHOU: “We had anticipated, and certainly hoped, that it would be denied. Our efforts were in seeing how long it would be denied. It was stunning.” Kahan went on to say that he and his organization will fight the decision, vowing that, even if they lose, they will go down “kicking and screaming” because of the implications of the decision for other victims’ families and friends. “This decision sends chills down not only to Nancy’s family but to other families of murdered children in hoping that they don’t have to undergo the same ordeal,” he said.  Noel Freeman, President of the Houston Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Political Caucus, says that Buice needs to remain behind bars, and he will work to flood the parole board with “thousands” of letters appealing to board members to reverse their decision. “There are people on death row who have done far less heinous crimes that what Jon Buice did,” Freeman said to KHOU. “We’re going to encourage all members of the community to write the parole board, write their representatives, write their state senators. We will mobilize the community. The community mobilized when Paul was murdered back in 1991.”

The two members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles assigned to Huntsville, where the decision was made to grant Buice a parole are Rissie L. Owens (term expires 2015) and Thomas A. Leeper (term expires 2013). They do not have to reconsider what they have done under law. But if Nancy Rodriguez, Andy Kahan, and Noel Freeman have anything to do about it, they will have plenty of mail to read from across the Lone Star State and from around the nation.

Huntsville Board Office, Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles contact information:

1300 11th St., Suite 520 

P.O. Box 599

Huntsville, TX 77342-0599

936-291-2161
936-291-8367 Fax

July 6, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, Gang violence, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Convicted Murderer of Gay Man Gets Parole; LGBTQ Community Vows to Fight It

Catholic Church Refuses Gay Man’s Funeral; Community Outraged

John Sanfilippo, gay Catholic denied a funeral because of church homophobia

San Diego, California – John Sanfilippo was a lifelong, devout Roman Catholic–and an openly gay man.  His parish church, Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church, flatly denied his funeral because of his sexual orientation, according to Channel 10 News.  Sanfilippo, who died last week after a long struggle with emphysema, planned years ago for his funeral mass to be held at Our Lady of the Rosary.  He was a faithful parishioner there for decades, and according to his friends had even left a large sum of money to the church in his will.  That did not stop the church from rejecting his funeral.  Last weekend, his partner of 30 years, his family, and his friends were curtly notified that the funeral was banned from the church because Sanfilippo was an openly gay man.  A storm of controversy has broken out in the San Diego LGBTQ community about the overt institutional homophobia that caused the denial of a dying man’s last request.  Sanfilippo was a fixture in the San Diego gay community, a businessman who owned and operated the popular SRO Lounge. According to EDGE, one of the parish clergy, Fr. Louis Solcia, allegedly said that gays themselves had “set up” the church for controversy in the wake of criticism from all over the region. A group of Sanfilippo’s friends went to the steps of the church to pray and get answers about why a Christian congregation would cause such pain and sorrow so needlessly. Queerty editorialized, “When the priests at Our Lady of the Rosary Church found out that [Sanfilippo] was survived by his partner of 30 years, Brian Galvin, they told Sanfilippo’s family that the Mass was canceled. That the priests managed to do so just two days after Sanfilippo died speaks both to their efficiency and their complete lack of humanity.”

Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in Little Italy

The Diocese of San Diego, backtracking on the decision, tried to quell community anger by claiming that the initial refusal to hold Sanfilippo’s funeral mass was made by a visiting priest who was “unfamiliar” with customs and practices of the parish. Few are buying the story.  “All of a sudden, they change their mind…Why? Because they got caught in the process of denying equal rights to people,” Sanfilippo’s friend, Neil Thomas, said to the San Diego LGBT Weekly. Six years earlier, another devout, openly gay parishioner of Our Lady of the Rosary was denied a funeral, John McClusker–and the painful memories are still fresh in the San Diego community.  Hurt and deeply angered by the 2005 decision to refuse McClusker the pastoral offices of the church, members of his family converted to the Episcopal Church where his funeral was held in lieu of his Roman Catholic parish. In the Sanfilippo case, diocesan damage control did not work, either.  Though a confusing statement from the diocese said the “ritual” could now be carried out at Our Lady of the Rosary for the deceased, his partner and his family had enough.  On Thursday, John Sanfilippo’s final rites were performed at Holy Cross Cemetery and Mausoleum on 4470 Hilltop Drive. The Roman Catholic Church in San Diego has some explaining to do: to their LGBTQ parishioners, to their families and friends, and to the LGBTQ community—but most of all, they have some explaining to do to themselves: about how a Christian church could reject the dying request of anyone.  Much less a baptized believer who sought to be authentically gay and Catholic at the same time.

July 1, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, California, funerals, gay men, GLBTQ, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, LGBTQ, religious intolerance, Roman Catholic Church and Homosexuality, Social Justice Advocacy | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Harvey Milk Speaks Out On July 4th!

"Statue of Liberty" by renowned gay artist Keith Haring (1958-1990)

Harvey Milk On the Equality of All People in America: “[All People] are created equal. No matter how hard you try, you can never erase those words. No matter how hard you try, you cannot chip those words off the base of the Statue of Liberty and no matter how hard you try, you cannot sing the Star-Spangled Banner without those words.  That’s what America is.  Love it or leave it.”

On Coming Out: “I cannot prevent anyone from getting angry, or mad, or frustrated. I can only hope that they’ll turn that anger and frustration and madness into something positive, so that two, three, four, five hundred will step forward, so the gay doctors will come out, the gay lawyers, the gay judges, gay bankers, gay architects … I hope that every professional gay will say ‘enough’, come forward and tell everybody, wear a sign, let the world know. Maybe that will help.”

On the Struggle for Human Rights: “It takes no compromising to give people their rights. It takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no survey to remove repressions. Burst down those closet doors once and for all, and stand up and start to fight!”

On the Rights of the Young: “All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.”

On Refusing to be Distracted by Homophobia: “If I turned around every time somebody called me a faggot, I’d be walking backward – and I don’t want to walk backward.”

On Hope and the Human Rights Movement:  “I ask this… If there should be an assassination, I would hope that five, ten, one hundred, a thousand would rise. I would like to see every gay lawyer, every gay architect come out – – If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door… And that’s all. I ask for the movement to continue. Because it’s not about personal gain, not about ego, not about power… it’s about the “us’s” out there. Not only gays, but the Blacks, the Asians, the disabled, the seniors, the us’s. Without hope, the us’s give up – I know you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living. So you, and you, and you… You gotta give em’ hope… you gotta give em’ hope.”

On the Invincible Thirst for Freedom and Equality: “I have tasted freedom. I will not give up that which I have tasted. I have a lot more to drink.”

Happy Fourth of July from the Unfinished Lives Project Team!

July 1, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Asian Americans, Bisexual persons, gay men, gay teens, gender identity/expression, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, Harvey Milk Day, Latino and Latina Americans, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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