The Laramie Project

UPDATE Meanwhile in …


Less then 12 hours after the news about the alleged hate crime against Quinn Matney on UNC-Chapel Hill campus hit the campus and local news (even receiving national coverage from the Chancellor Holden Thorp released the following statement:

Subject: FORMAL NOTICE: Message from the Chancellor:  Police Determine False Report in Aggravated Assault
Sent: Apr 12, 2011 5:53 PM

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

The Department of Public Safety has determined that the alleged aggravated assault reported to campus last night did not occur. That
report, filed with campus police on April 5, was false. The University will not report it as a hate crime.

It is important to recognize that incidents of harassment do occur. When they do, we take them seriously. We strive to foster a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment at Carolina.

We recognize that this has been a difficult time for campus. Members of the community who feel they need to discuss what has happened are encouraged to contact the Dean of Students Office at 919-966-4042; Counseling and Wellness Services at 919-966-3658 or 919-966-2281 after hours; LGBTQ Center at 919-843-5376; Diversity and Multicultural Affairs at 919-962-6962; or Human Resources’ Employee Assistance Program at 919-929-2362.

Holden Thorp

I don’t know whether the previously announced public forum (hosted by UNC’s GLBTSA) for Thursday will go forward. News reports are now indicating that Quinn might be prosecuted for filing a false report. Certainly this report is devastating in a very different way.

As I type this update, Anatomy of Hate plays on the Documentary Channel on my TV. There has just been a segment on the Phelps family and I watch one of the Reverand’s daughters lead her son in “I’m ashamed to be an American where the fags can freely roam…

So while I want to acknowledge the news that the report that stabbed my heart and boiled my blood yesterday is false, just because it didn’t happen to Quinn doesn’t mean it isn’t happening somewhere to someone. I cannot fathom what might have caused him to fabricate the incident, and I worry now that the backlash will be intense, personal, and allow others (administrators, legislators, fellow students) to ignore or dismiss homophobia or LGBT student/staff/faculty concerns about equality as exaggerated or imagined (or both). As I mentioned in my original post as I parsed Chancellor Thorp’s first letter in response to the incident, I believe there is reason to argue that there aren’t sufficient protections and rights for LGBT folks who attend/work for the UNC system. That is a situation that is controlled by outside forces like the NC legislature and that is a body whose majority leadership indicate daily how eager they are to further marginalize gay, lesbian and transgender North Carolinians. One of our Friday post-show discussants, blogger Pam Spaulding, agrees with me. Perhaps when she visits she will help us figure out the whys and wherefores of how we respond, to continue pressing on behalf of those who are targeted, hurt, and killed and to combat those who will use this false report to continue to marginalize and discriminate.

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Wyoming 2, North Carolina ?

I got my Matthew Shepard Foundation newsletter today and here, in its entirety, is the story they offer about the defeat of two anti-LGBT bills in the Wyoming legislature. While there isn’t a lot being passed that’s actively positive for LGBT (like relationship recognition or employment protections) at least Wyoming has staved off overtly negative legislation. I fear that North Carolina might not be able to rebuff such laws this year, but I try to remain positive.

Wyoming Legislature Defeats Two Anti- Gay Bills

Wyoming’s lawmakers concluded their General Session in early March with a still-unbroken record of defeating anti-gay bills which have surfaced continually for most of the last decade.

Lawmakers first dealt a procedural defeat in late February to an effort to amend the Equality State’s Constitution to prohibit recognition of same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.

Wyoming does not authorize same-sex marriage under state law, but a separate provision of the state’s legal code recognizes all marriages from other places that were valid where and when they were granted, and opponents of marriage equality have tried for years to close this provision where it would apply to same-sex couples from states such as Massachusetts, or countries like the Netherlands, which allow same-sex couples to wed.

A separate bill which would have changed the law to ban recognition of same-sex nuptials, without amending the Constitution, finally failed on a last-minute procedural vote on the second to the last day of the session. The Senate defeated a conference committee report on the bill by the very narrow margin of 14 in favor of the bill and 16 opposed. The Legislature does not meet again until February 2012 in a budget session where similar bills would have to win two-thirds initial support to be considered.

Hundreds of LGBT and Allied Wyoming citi- zens mounted a historic grassroots effort to defeat the bills, with support from Wyoming Equality, the state’s LGBT activist group, and the Equality State Policy Center, a progressive lobby, among other organizations. [Matthew Shepard Foundation] Executive Director Jason Marsden also traveled to Cheyenne twice to testify against the bill in House and Senate committees.