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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 17, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 38
Arson hits Tennessee Lesbians
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Arson hits Tennessee Lesbians

by James Whitely - SGN Staff Writer

Carol Ann Stutte and her partner, Laura Stutte, a Lesbian couple from Vonore, Tennessee, are afraid to return to the charred ruins of their home after it was burned down and the word 'Queers' was spray-painted on the side of their garage in what is being investigated as a potential hate crime.

The two claim they were not home at the time of the fire that occurred on Saturday, September 4.

'My daughter was supposed to be here. She was sick,' said Carol Stutte. 'I was grateful my baby girl didn't get killed in this fire. She would have been trapped in the basement.'

According to Stutte, her daughter would have been home had she not been unwell and made other arrangements.

The couple of 15 years feel that they were the target of a hate crime, possibly committed by a neighbor.

Carol Stutte says she and her partner have been harassed by a certain neighbor for the last five years. The couple alleges that the neighbor has reportedly threatened to kill them and burn down their house. They filed a police complaint following the most recent threat in August, although the exact details of the complaint have not been released by the Monroe County Sheriff's Department.

The Sheriff's Department says that they are considering the possibility of the incident being a hate crime.

The couple is currently residing in a safe house.

Now, a week and a half later, donations are pouring in from all over the community.

"The outpouring has just been tremendous," said Becky Lucas, president of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) of Maryville.

As of September 9, about $3,000 in cash had been donated with the help of PFLAG, the Metropolitan Community Church of Knoxville, and Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.

The couple have also received numerous donations of other items, including clothing, furniture, and gift cards.

A Facebook group was started in response to the incident. The group, "We support the Stutte family!" can be found easily using a Facebook search. Information on how to donate to the couple can be found on the group's page.

Lucas wants the couple to know they have support in the area.

"We want to send a message to this couple and other couples like them: You do have many allies in this area. & Many people in the community are just as outraged as I am," said Lucas.

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