A 73-year-old registered sex offender faces charges of second-degree murder, arson, and a hate crime after attempting to burn down the home of a lesbian couple and their eight children while the family was inside of it, CBS Miami reports:
Miami-Dade Police said Braulio Valenzuela-Villanueva, 73, entered the lot next door to his on NW 27th Avenue and allegedly set fire to a mattress that was leaning against the wall of the trailer occupied by the women and children.
Police said as the fire began to get worse, “the defendant hurried back to his residence.” The fire began to burn the trailer, but there were no smoke detectors inside, police said. A neighbor from across the street saw the fire and began to alert people of the impending danger.
The women and children inside the burning trailer escaped after being awakened by the neighbor from across the street. Police said Valenzuela-Villanueva came out of his home and “casually began observing the fire. In fact one of his neighbors had to compel him to assist bringing a garden hose” to fight the fire.
The fire department came and put the fire out. A surveillance video shows Valenzuela-Villanueva setting fire to the mattress.
Valenzuela-Villanueva told police he tried to burn the house down because they were gay:
"He stated that he despised the two adult victims for the simple fact that they were lesbians," the report said. "According to the defendant, every time he saw them kissing he felt a deep repugnance, and in his opinion they did not deserve to have children."
He is in custody.
Watch NBC Miami's report, AFTER THE JUMP...
One of the couples — Sloan Grimsley, a firefighter from Palm Beach Gardens, and her wife Joyce Albu, a consultant assisting parents of children living with developmental disorders — are seeking protections for their children, the youngest of whom is two years old. Sloan and Joyce have been together for 9 years and were married in August of 2011 in New York. The couple is concerned that if something were to happen to Sloan in the line of duty, Joyce would not receive the support the State offers to spouses of first responders who make the ultimate sacrifice, and thus, would struggle to provide for their family’s needs.
“I’m proud of the work that I do protecting my community, but the law in Florida doesn’t let me protect my own family,” stated Grimsley. “We just want the peace of mind of knowing that those vows we took to care for one another aren’t dependent on where we are.”
Seven other couples are also being represented:
Lindsay Myers, a radio digital content producer, and her wife Sarah Humlie, the Executive Director of the Pensacola Humane Society; Chuck Hunziger and Bob Collier, both military veterans, who have been together for more than 50 years and live in Fort Lauderdale; Juan Del Hierro, the Director of Ministry Empowerment for Unity on the Bay, and Thomas Gantt, Jr., a teacher, who live in Miami and have a 14 month-old son; Christian Ulvert, a political consultant, and Carlos Andrade, a media director, who married in Washington, DC in 2013 and are interested in raising a family; Richard Milstein, a family law attorney, and Eric Hankin, a Miami public school teacher, who have been together 12 years; Robert Loupo, a Miami-Dade Public Schools counselor, and John Fitzgerald, retired, who have been together 12 years; and Sandra Jean Newson, a vice president at an agency that works to provide housing for formerly-homeless individuals, and Denise Hueso, a clinical care coordinator at the Alliance for GLBTQ Youth, who have a 15-year-old adopted child.
Read the complaint here.
One of the longest operating gay resorts in the world, the Island House in Key West is now being put up for sale by owner Jon Allen who bought the resort (open since 1976) with partner Martin Kay in 1999. The couple invested more than $2 million in the refurbishment of the resort, but Kay passed away in 2013. Allen, for his part, still believes that the House will flourish under new management.
"I think I can say without boast that we created at Island House a unique place, a safe and happy space for thousands of gay men to meet, to eat and drink, to make merry. I’m proud of that, but more important in this context, Island House is successful and profitable operation. I’m confident that its new owner will operate it as a gay men’s resort. It has higher ADR’s and occupancy than any comparable property in Old Town. There’s no good reason to change its model. It’s a success," wrote Allen.
Steve Smith, outreach director for the Key West Business Guild and a friend to Allen and Kay from the time they purchased the Island House, said, "[Jon and Martin's] purchase and renovation of the Island House was a major undertaking and the end result shows through its loyal repeat guests and their dedicated employees."
Top ratings don't hurt either; the clothing-optional resort was called the "best gay resort in the world" by outtraveler.com, and its amenities, including a pool, hot tub, tanning deck, spa, and cafe/bar all help create a top notch experience. For now the resort will continue to operate as usual.
Image via MetroWeekly.
At a press conference on Monday, Freedom to Marry is expected to announce a new $1 million television ad campaign in Southern states in the hopes of swaying public opinion and the judges who will decide the fate of state bans on gay unions. As it stands, there are about two dozen lawsuits challenging bans on gay marriage that are pending before state and federal courts in Southern states. The Washington Post reports:
“Freedom to Marry’s national strategy has always been to build a critical mass of states and support to create the climate for the Supreme Court to bring the country to national resolution. We don’t have to win within every state, but we have to win enough states,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will join the group at its Monday press conference. The group will also try to tie same-sex marriage to the civil rights movement, by featuring Rep. John Lewis [right], the longtime Georgia Democrat who ran the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, in a testimonial.
“I see the right to marriage as a civil rights issue. You cannot have rights for one segment of the population and one group of people and not for everybody,” Lewis says in the video.
Watch Lewis' video for the new campaign, AFTER THE JUMP...
Co-chairs of the new initiative will include Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Reps. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), as well as Mark McKinnon, a former senior adviser to George W. Bush and Lance Bass, the ‘N Sync singer.
History repeats itself, and as the saying goes, those who don't learn from it are doomed to repeat it.
Echoing the famous 1979 letter in which Abby told a writer who took issue with the same-sex "weirdos" in their neighborhood that they "could move," a couple in Tampa, Florida moved into a new neighborhood and took issue with the two same-sex couples in the local social circle.
Despite being welcomed by everyone, when it was time for the new couple to host a gathering they deliberately excluded the same-sex couples, citing not wanting to compromise their "values" (of which "love thy neighbor as thyself" is evidently not one), and are now perplexed by the sudden shunning they are experiencing from the rest of the community.
Abby took the time to set them straight, so to speak, starting with the direct statement,
[R]egardless of what you were told in your previous community, a person's sexual orientation isn't a "lifestyle choice." Gay people don't choose to be gay; they are born that way. They can't change being gay any more than you can change being heterosexual.
While never being cruel, Abby takes them to task and lets them know that they have a golden opportunity here and not to blow it.