A New Orleans LGBT activist on July 19 wrote an op-ed for a local newspaper explaining exactly how “Louisiana makes life difficult for gay couples.” Two weeks later, after he was also interviewed by a local TV station about his comments, he and his fiancé became the victims of a non-violent hate crime.
In his op-ed, John Hill, 68 (in the image on the right, with his fiancé), a former political writer who is the chairman of the statewide LGBT group Forum for Equality, wrote that “the sobering fact is Louisiana is very hostile to its LGBT citizens.”
In return, one anti-gay man in the early hours of August 3 drove up to the 1832 townhouse Hill shares with his fiancé, John Weimer, got out of the van, pulled a ladder out, climbed it, and torn down a gay pride flag from the couple’s second story balcony. Not content to have made that statement, the unidentified man, caught by a nearby surveillance camera, spray painted the word “fags” across his windows.
“It was so deliberate,” Hill told the Times-Picayune. “That’s what scared me most.” But the couple are undeterred. “We’re doubling down,” they said — and immediately replaced the pride flag, which had sentimental value, with not another, but two.
“The flag that was torn down was not just any flag, and not just a symbol to the couple,” the Times-Picayune reports:
They put it up on the day that the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. They had spent the day celebrating in Jackson Square and had been photographed kissing with it between them.
“I would’ve kind of like to have had that flag,” Hill said. “But it’s not the flag that’s important. It’s what it stands for.”
“Yesterday, my next-door neighbor said, ‘John, people in Louisiana aren’t hostile to gay people!’” Hill remembered. “I haven’t said it to her yet. But I will: People in Louisiana are hostile to gay people.”
In that op-ed, Hill also explained that several former Louisiana governors since 1992 have signed an “executive order prohibiting discrimination against gay employees and contractors,” but “Gov. Bobby Jindal has refused even to acknowledge repeated requests from LGBT leaders for a meeting.”
Hill also wrote:
Besides no job protection through state law, gay couples face some expensive problems. Gay couples, especially those with children, have to spend about $5,000 on contracts to protect themselves.
We execute powers of attorney giving each other the right to make medical decisions. We must travel with multiple copies on our person, in our cars and suitcases so we can produce them quickly in an emergency. And even then, we are at the mercy of hospital personnel. This spring, a homophobic brother at a Kansas critical care unit demanded his brother’s partner be removed. A nurse, refusing to check the power of attorney on file, had the partner handcuffed and removed from the hospital.
When it comes to buying a house, a married couple can add their two incomes to qualify for a higher loan. Gay couples cannot jointly buy a house unless their individual incomes would qualify for the loan.
Gay couples often cannot get health care or retirement benefits and don’t qualify for federal and state inheritance tax exclusions granted to married couples. The inheritance tax issue was the basis of the Supreme Court striking down DOMA’s section denying legally married same-sex coupes federal benefits.
There are more than 1,000 benefits in federal laws to married couples.
The intent to do harm continues in New Orleans, Louisiana’s most gay-friendly city. Orleans Parish School Board member Leslie Ellison attempted this month to strip gay and lesbian students out of the system’s anti-bullying policy, citing her religion. When asked about the separation of church and state, she responded, “There is no such thing.” She should read the Constitution.
This is not about religion; this is about our civil rights.
Including the right to feel safe in our homes.
The police and FBI haven’t arrested the perpetrator yet but they are investigating it as a hate crime.
Hat tip: Kenneth in the (212)
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