Omaha, Nebraska – A 23-year-old man sits in jail today, charged with felony arson for burning his Lesbian neighbors’ Rainbow flag, and for resisting arrest after he stole the flag from their porch Sunday morning. WOWT reports that Cameron Mayfield, who lives down the street within eyeshot of Ariann Anderson and Jess Meadows-Anderson, grabbed their pride flag, set it afire, and drove down the street in an act the couple says was a hate-filled attack on them.
Around midnight Sunday morning, the two spouses were awakened by what they first thought was an attempt to break in their home. They checked to see that their daughter was unharmed, and then caught sight of the source of the commotion. Looking out their window, they say a familiar van racing down the street with someone brandishing what looked like a burning stick out of the van’s driver side window. It took some moments before the Meadows-Andersons realized that the “burning stick” was once their Rainbow pride flag they flew from their porch.
The women say that the crime rattled them, not so much because they feared the act of burning their pride flag itself. It was the hate behind the act that continues to disturb them. “It goes beyond vandalism or a threat,” they said to WOWT. “That’s a direct attack.” In another interview with KETV, Jess Meadows-Anderson said, “The actual act itself isn’t terrifying or anything like that, but the intent is.”
“That flag has been hanging on the back of our house, on the back deck, for five years,” Meadows-Anderson told KETV News. “In light on the ruling that we are all waiting for, we decided to move it to the front porch as of last Thursday. This is the first time we’ve had anything like this happen.”
The ruling that they are awaiting, of course, is for the judicial system to strike down Nebraska’s same-sex marriage ban, making it legal for a same-sex couple to be married in the Corn Husker State. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Joseph Batailon issued an injunction striking down the state’s ban enacted in 2000, according to LGBTQNation. In 2011, the Meadows-Andersons were legally married in a large ceremony in Iowa, but they intend to marry in Nebraska when it becomes legal to do so.
The couple’s focus on love and happiness makes the flag theft and burning by their young neighbor all the more unsettling to them. Ariann Anderson says she has no recollection of any run in with Cameron Mayfield before, but his father told WOWT News that his son had mentioned a previous encounter with Anderson that bothered him. Mayfield’s father also said that the night before his son burnt the flag, the young man was drinking heavily and dwelling too much on losing his job.
The Lesbian couple say they almost feel sorry for their young neighbor, since this felony will follow him for a long time, and complicate his life. But, on the other hand, they also say that this act of discord and hate makes them wonder who else out there has it in for them and their family. Rather than be intimidated by the attack on their personhood, the couple has replaced the destroyed Rainbow flag with an even larger on that now proudly waves from their front porch in the same bracket the other one occupied before Sunday morning.
The good news in all of this is that the Omaha police acted quickly, and within 45 minutes they had located Mayfield’s van and made the arrest. Though the District Attorney has not yet said that this incident was a bias-motivated crime, police are investigating as if it were one. Mayfield’s father, on the other hand, says that he can’t imagine that his son would act out of hatred against neighbors who live only 10 houses down the street.
In the meantime, the Meadows-Andersons have the more pressing problem of explaining to their daughter why this happened on their quiet street. And Cameron Mayfield awaits trial for the charge of 2nd degree felony arson.
Was this an anti-LGBT hate crime, or a stupid mistake under the influence of alcohol? We at Unfinished Lives Blog suspect it is pretty much equally both. Anti-LGBTQ hatred is far from over in this country, no matter what surveys may say. People in Omaha know that, now.
Boston, Massachusetts – Gay students and Law School officials were stunned to discover homophobic slurs scrawled on the walls of the Lambda Students Association the day following the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. When LGBTQ students arrived at the Boston College Law School LGBT Center, they found the door unlocked and scads of epithets demeaning queer folk covering the office walls.
Demeaning slurs such as “cum shot,” “muff diver,” “felching,” “cock gobbler,” “gay bukkake,” and the like competed with a few racial ethic epithets that seem to have been thrown in for good measure. Some sources opined that LGBTQ people were not singled out for humiliation, since Blacks were also targeted by the vandals. Sexual minority students, however, are not buying such denial. They feel the crosshairs of hate aimed directly at them. The Boston College Police Department and the Newton Police Department are investigating the incident.
Robert Trescan, Regional Director for the Anti-Defamation League of New England, said to Boston.com that while hate speech incidents occur on many campuses, this one has a more sinister character to it. “This is a targeted message at a particular place that is important to students, specifically designed to send a message,” he said. “From the police and school’s perspective we want this to be treated as a priority, and all indications is that they are treating this as a priority.”
EDGE Boston reports that the Dean of the Law School was notified in a meeting of the hate graffiti, and rushed to the LGBT Center immediately to see the damage himself. Dean Vincent Rougeau wrote an open letter to the college community, a portion of which says,“The administration of Boston College Law School condemns this reprehensible action and will not tolerate hateful or threatening speech of any kind. This behavior is the antithesis of all we stand for as an institution, and is an assault on our shared values of a welcoming, loving, and inclusive community.”
Joe Triplett, co-chairperson of Above the Law, a student group, said that the entire Boston College community has been concerned and supportive, according to Huffington Post. Triplett also related that a student suggested that the hatefulness of the incident could be diffused and channeled to energize the pro-LGBTQ effort on the Jesuit school’s campus. Inspired by President Obama’s Inaugural endorsement of LGBTQ rights and marriage equality, the unnamed student said that the vandalism should serve as a “backdrop for a dedication to the gay rights movement… posting articles, pictures, and quotes on top of them that show our fight for equal rights from Stonewall to the President’s historic inclusion of gay rights in his inauguration speech yesterday… to show where we have come from and yet how far we still have to go.”
Dallas, Texas – Gay Republican consultant Taylor Garrett was decked with a hard blow to the left eye last week, according to various press reports. A cast member on the gay reality television show, LOGO’s “A-List Dallas,” Garrett is closely associated with high-profile human rights opponent, Ann Coulter. Returning to his car from a birthday party on the entertainment strip along Cedar Springs Road in Dallas, Garrett says he was shocked to find the words, “F-ck Coulter,” keyed into his car door. A large man appeared out of the shadows where he was squatting, and knocked Garrett to the ground, cutting his brow and bloodying him. He also fell on broken glass beside the car, scraping his body.
Garrett is convinced gay Democrats are behind the bias against him and other gay “conservative Republican Christians.” In an interview with the Daily Caller, he said, “I would’ve thought people would have been a little more tolerant considering that our community advocates for tolerance, but it has been nothing but mean spirited attacks, especially after the Ann Coulter scene,” referring to his well-publicized luncheon recently with Coulter. Using racist plantation language, Garrett said that gay Democrats want him to “stay on the plantation,” but he is having none of it. Shaken by the incident, he says another season for him on the popular LOGO series is in doubt.
An ambulance was called to the scene, but the paramedics did not elect to transport him to the hospital, since his injuries did not warrant it. Some members of the LGBTQ community and media have suggested that Garrett is using this incident and another in October when a rock was thrown through his window to gin up publicity for himself. Garrett denies the allegations. Dallas Police have not designated the assault as a hate crime at this point.
In an exclusive interview with Huffington Post, Garrett continued the theme of gay hypocrisy over politics. “This goes to show you,” he said, “that the gay community advocates for diversity and is against bullying, but in our own community we discriminate based upon if you’re a Democrat or a Republican or if you don’t necessarily fit within the mold of the political views of the gay community.”