of Anti-Gay Violence Increase
/ PlanetOut.com Network, March 18, 2004
By Patrick Letellier
SUMMARY: Incidents of U.S. anti-gay violence rose 24
percent in the last six months of 2003, following the U.S. Supreme Court's
decision to strike down sodomy laws.
Incidents of anti-gay hate violence rose 24 percent in
the last six months of 2003, following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to
strike down sodomy laws, according to data released this week by a national
The data is "clear evidence of the backlash"
against GLBT people as a result of heightened media attention following the
Supreme Court decision and the controversy over same-sex marriage, according
to a press release by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects (NCAVP),
which tracks anti-gay hate violence.
In some areas, the number of attacks rose even more
dramatically, when compared with data from a year earlier. Incidents increased
by 133 percent in Colorado, 120 percent in Chicago and 43 percent in New York.
In San Francisco, which became ground zero in the struggle over same-sex
marriage rights in February, incidents in the last half of 2003 rose 14
"This is a stunning increase," Denise de Percin,
director of the Colorado Anti-Violence Program, told the Rocky Mountain News.
"The polarized daily coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
issues has raised the profile of our community and galvanized into action the
people who hate us."
Given the current climate of scapegoating gays and
lesbians, some people turn words of hate into action, said Jennifer Rakowski,
associate director of San Francisco's Community United Against Violence. That
action includes anti-gay protests and signs, lawsuits to rescind marriage
rights, political lobbying to pass anti-gay legislation, and physical
violence, she said.
The backlash shows no signs of abating. Rakowski told the
Gay.com/PlanetOut.com Network that when she and her partner got married at
City Hall in San Francisco on March 9, a protester held up a sign that said,
In Multnomah County, Ore., which grants marriage rights
to same-sex couples, county commissioners have reported receiving death
threats. "I hope your whole family is killed. I hope with all my heart
that you're gunned down and killed," said one caller in a phone message
On Saturday the only gay bar in Newport, R.I., called
Castaways, was vandalized by a man who smashed in the bar's windows with a
baseball bat while yelling anti-gay epithets.
"You can't pass this off as a random act of
vandalism," Castaways' owner Lionel Pires told the Newport News. "We
were singled out, terrorized."
"Historically, at points in which we move forward
toward civil rights and there is this broad, divisive public debate about gay
and lesbian issues, it can lead to incidents like these," Rakowski said.
"Some people take the words they hear about us and see them as a license
to act out with violence."
NACVP plans to release a full report about 2003 incidents
of anti-gay violence in April.