Eight horses in rural Ohio have burned to death in what authorities are calling a hate crime. The horses were stabled on the private property of a gay man, who found anti-gay slurs spray-painted on his barn. From Whiz News: Seven adult horses and one foal died as a result of an arson fire at 874 West Richards Road in McConnelsville just after 11:30 p.m. on Sunday. Owner Brent Whitehouse said he woke to discover the barn engulfed in flames and immediately called 911, but it was too late. "I couldn't get the door open I could still hear the horses kicking and I tried as hard as I could to get them out and I just couldn't get them out in time," he said. Those who know Brent believe this was a hate crime, explicit words relating to his sexuality were spray painted in large white letters on the side of the barn before the fire was started. "They obviously don't know him very well, because he's a sweet-hearted person and how he lives his lifestyle is nobody's business but his own," said Friend Bobbie Nelson. "Whatever his sexual orientation was it had nothing to do with him as a person and to take it out on these innocent horses was beyond any fathom of what anybody should ever do to anybody," said Yvette Yeadon. Yeadon worked closely with many of the animals on a weekly basis. She said the foal was only a-week-old and one of the other horses was expected to give birth any day now.
Chris Crook and Kathy Thompson report for Zanesville Times Recorder: Whitehouse, a horse trainer and breeder, and owner of an insurance company in McConnelsville, said he is still in shock over losing Elvis, Barney, Floyd, Princess and her week-old foal, Buddy, Love, Bella and Ethel. The value of the horses was hundreds of thousands of dollars. “Each one of them was so special,” Whitehouse said. “I’d come home from a long day at the office and go to the barn and be with them for hours. They just knew how to relax me and make me laugh.” ...M&M Volunteer Fire Department Chief Gary Woodward said it took his firefighters almost two hours to put out the flames after getting the call from Whitehouse. "We stayed through the night after seeing the painting and called the fire marshal's office," Woodward said. "We felt it was a crime scene at that point." Whitehouse said he has gotten so much support from neighbors and friends in Morgan County... "I just don't understand someone wanting to kill innocent animals," Whitehouse said. "It's like killing a child. Those horses never did anything to hurt anyone."
I predict that the perpetrator(s) of this horrifying crime will eventually be caught - especially if the story is picked up by our not-always-alert main stream media. I'll also predict that the arsonist is a person (or persons) who's aware of how much these animals mattered to Brent. The Ohio FAIR Plan Underwriting Association is offering a $5000.00 reward for information leading to the arrest of whoever torched the barn and killed the eight horses.
You will recall that back in September of 2010, a lesbian couple living in rural Tennessee had their dream house burned to the ground by a homophobic neighbor. The word "Queers" was painted on the home's detached garage. (At this point, the women's insurance company is refusing to pay for damages.) The couple have been together for 16 years.
These are not isolated incidents. WHZNews provides disturbing video of the scene in Ohio:
Like Brent Whitehouse, I also can't comprehend the sort of intense hatred that would inspire people to do something like this. But part of the blame must rest with leaders of the Religious Right and those anti-gay orgs and politicians who spread fear and toxic lies about LGBT Americans. They fan the flames of bigotry with their hate. They poison the well. They have set the stage for the countless tragedies we see playing out across the country. The gay youth suicides, the vicious assaults, the cold-blooded murders. It. Must. End.