Gay Texas Couple Find ’Leave or Die Fags’ Painted on Porch
A gay couple from a small town in the Texas panhandle said they woke up Monday morning to find an anti-gay phrase painted on their front porch, Pronews 7 reported.
The two men, Joshua Harrison and Jeremy Jeffers of Clarendon, Texas, say they discovered their front porch vandalized with "leave or die fags" painted on it early Monday.
"It was a nice message painted on our front porch right in front of our door," Harrison told the news station. He also said that he and Jeffers reported the incident to police right away. Donley County Sheriff Charles "Butch" Blackburn said the authorities are currently investigating the vandalism and that he considers it a hate crime.
Clarendon is a small town of barely 2,000 about 60 miles from Amarillo. It was founded as a "sobriety" town in contrast to the Wild West boom towns of the late 1800s.
Although Texas is considered a conservative state, GOP Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill into law in 2001 that added sexual orientation to the state’s hate crime laws. According to the Pronews 7, a 2007 crime in Texas report showed that sexual orientation accounted for nearly 20 percent of hate crimes in Texas.
The couple, who have been together for about a year and a half, said the homophobic message has them fearing for their lives.
"I’m absolutely terrified because if there are people in this town that are willing to go to the lengths to vandalize our house and to scare us, they might be going the lengths to do physical harm on us," Harrison said.
The couple says they noticed a change in the people’s attitudes towards them after an ad about the "homosexual movement" was published in the local newspaper by Pastor Chris Moore of the Clarendon Church of Christ, the Clarendon Enterprise.
The ad Moore wrote warns residents about the "homosexual movement."
"Folks, don’t be fooled, the ’gay’ agenda isn’t about ’equal’ rights for gay couples," the ad reads. "Their agenda would force everyone to compromise their values, make our children legal prey for pedophiles."
"It’s funny that two weeks after this article comes out in the newspaper that people in town are starting to be rude to us and then we get out front porch vandalized," Harrison said.
The pastor says his ad is based on facts but he does not support the anti-gay attack the couple suffered.
"What I wrote was facts and if I wrote something that wasn’t factual - I would gladly fix it," he said. "I don’t condone that type of behavior. It is un-Christian to vandalize or be violent to anybody."
The incident has left the couple so concerned, they are considering moving. "We are trying to leave," Harrison said.
"It’s sad," Jeffers added. "For the first time in my life, I have never felt this scared."
Officials from Equality Texas, the state’s principal LGBT advocacy group, say that the couple should not be afraid to live in Clarendon. "Joshua Harrison and Jeremy Jeffers should not have to live in fear in their own home simply because of their sexual orientation," Interim Executive Director Chuck Smith said. "No Texan should ever have to live in fear of violence because of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression."
Smith also commented on Moore’s ad. Although, he said, the pastor is "entitled to his own beliefs," he takes issue with him teaching and preaching "homophobia and anti-gay rhetoric. It can inflame people to the point of violence."
Watch Pronews 7’s report below: