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Five North Carolina Church Members Indicted In Kidnapping, Assault Of Gay Church Goer: VIDEO

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A Rutherford County grand jury indicted five members of a controversial North Carolina church on Tuesday for kidnapping and assaulting a fellow church member because they believed he was possessed by "homosexual demons," reports Raw StorySarah Covington Anderson, Adam Christopher Bartley, Robert Louis Walker Jr., Brooke McFadden Covington and Justin Brock Covington were indicted on charges of second degree kidnapping and simple assault of 21-year-old gay man Matthew Fenner; Anderson also was charged with assault by strangulation.

Fenner told WSPA News that he has been a member of The Word of Faith Fellowship Church since the age of 16. Fenner says he was threatened with confinement for two days, slapped, strangled and verbally assaulted on Jan. 29, 2013 in what the group deemed as an attempt to "free him of his homosexual demons," with Sarah Covington Anderson questioning Fenner about his "sin." Fenner documented his harrowing assault in a court affidavit.

Said Fenner:

"By this point, Sarah began to tell me how much she couldn’t stand to be around me and that I was disgusting because of my sexual orientation. I told her that I was sorry that I didn’t know what she wanted me to tell her and to which she then slapped me with a great amount of force across my left cheek. At this point I was really starting to get scared.

"I had at least 15-20 college age men around me, screaming, shaking me, punching me, hitting my chest, grabbing my head, telling me to repeat different phrases, all of which caused (and have resulted in much) mental distress to high levels."

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 6.00.58 AMWSPA drove to the Word of Faith Fellowship building on Tuesday to interview members of the group about indictment, however they were met with "No Trespassing," signs and barred entry. The church's attorney, Josh Farmer, answered WSPA's inquiries through email.

Said Farmer:

"They are innocent of the charges leveled against them and we look forward to proving their innocence and to their complete vindication before a trial court. We are adamant that no one ever physically harmed Mr. Fenner ... The church does NOT target members who are gay."

Fenner's mother and brother, who are currently still members of the church, testified against him in court. Patrick Covington, a gay man and brother of one of the accused, said he left the church with Fenner, but he denies that any abuse ever took place.

Faith in America, an organization geared toward ending harm against LGBT youth and families from misguided religious teachings, investigated the church in the past and found Farmer's statements about the church contradictory reports Qnotes. FIA says the church compares homosexuals to the “demon-possessed," and notes that the church’s website stated, "Those who were once drug addicts, alcoholics, homosexuals, etc. are now delivered by the power of God and are living normal lives, serving God and doing his will," in 2012; the statement was later updated and dropped the mention of homosexuals from the statement. Fenner remains vigilant and hopes his case sheds light on the church and others like it that perpetuate violence.

Said Fenner:

"This is the only way that I can get my voice out there to say look, this kind of stuff is happening. It happened to me and it just kind of sheds some light onto the things that are going on in there and that people do know, but can't really have the facts to go with it."

Watch a news report on the disturbing story, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Five North Carolina Church Members Indicted In Kidnapping, Assault Of Gay Church Goer: VIDEO" »


Lesbian Couple's North Carolina Home Labeled with Anti-gay Slur on Google Maps: VIDEO

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North Carolina Teen Google Maps His House and Finds Anti-Gay Slur on Home Address: VIDEO

A 17-year-old teen found a nasty surprised when he Google mapped his Canton, North Carolina home reports The Advocate. Dakota Bonham, son of Jennifer Mann and Jodie Mcdaniel, switched to street view and found their home address renamed to "Fagits live here." The couple expressed shock and surprise and say that they've never encountered any hostilities from neighbors in the four years they've lived on Hilltop Farm Road. The couple contacted Google to remove the heinous, albeit misspelled slur from the site.

Said Mann:

"My son was on Google Maps at school when he (searched) 'street view' for our address and it said, 'Fagits live here.'"

"I just thought, 'Are you kidding me?' I tried to contact Google, but I was put on hold forever and ever and ever. This day and time, with people and hate, you just can't live your life."

Google finally took action when The Asheville-Citizen Times asked Google to remove the slur on behalf of Mann and McDaniel. The description stayed on the site for at least a month before it was finally removed on Wednesday.

McDaniel previously had a window sticker of two pink deer face to face, and that decal was visible from the street when the Google street mapping car came by last summer reports Asheville-Citizen TimesIt's unclear who authorized the change; it's possible that the change was created and authorized through Google Map Maker by fellow peers as Google only moderates "high-profile," features however, Map Maker's guidelines do state that obscene and profane content is not allowed. 

Bonham, who has two other siblings ages 23 and 15, expressed disgust over the discovery.

Said Bonham:

"I was just like, 'What the hell?' It's just kind of messed up. They should kind of grow up a little bit."

Watch Mann and McDaniel's interview with WLOS-TV News, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Lesbian Couple's North Carolina Home Labeled with Anti-gay Slur on Google Maps: VIDEO" »


North Carolina Man Who Was Beaten, Robbed, Set on Fire By Man He Met At Gay Bar Dies

WhiteStephen Patrick White, the Army veteran who was savagely attacked and burned by a man he met at a gay bar last weekend, has died in the hospital as a result of his injuries, The Jamestown Sun reports.

White had met Garry Joseph Gupton at Chemistry Nightclub, a gay bar in Greensboro, and the two proceeded to leave the bar and travel to a hotel early Sunday morning. At around 4:30 am, an employee at the hotel called 911 after he heard screaming and a fire alarm go off. Qnotes reports White was found naked, robbed and beaten - with burn injuries on over 52 percent of his body. White remained in critical condition until he died of the injuries yesterday.

GuptonGupton, a crew member in the city of Greensboro's Water Resources Department, is being held on a $250,000 bond and charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury with intent to kill. Authorities say he will now be charged with first-degree murder but not a hate crime, according to Qnotes:

“He (Gupton) never verbalized to us that he intended to kill somebody,” said Susan Danielsen, a Greensboro police spokeswoman, according to N.C. Policy Watch. “There’s absolutely no evidence to indicate that this is a hate crime.”

She added: “We’re not sure what caused Mr. Gupton to act so violently. This is not a crime motivated by hate.”

Sexual orientation and gender identity protections are not included in North Carolina's hate crimes statutes. 


North Carolina Gay Man In Critical Condition After Being Beaten, Robbed, Set On Fire By Man He Met At Bar

Stephenwhite-232x300When Stephen Patrick White and Garry Joseph Gupton left a gay bar together in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina, early Sunday, "everything seemed normal," according to qnotes.

White, 46, and Gupton, 26, hailed a cab outside the Chemistry Nightclub and traveled to the Battleground Inn, a hotel about 4 miles away. At about 4:30 a.m., an employee at the Battleground Inn called 911 after he heard screaming and a fire alarm was activated.

White is now in critical condition at a hospital in nearby Winston-Salem with life-threatening injuries, including burns over 52 percent of his body, qnotes reports. Gupton was arrested and charged with aggravated assault after allegedly setting White on fire in what authorities say was an attempt to kill him.

Gupton is being held on $150,000 bond. White was found naked, robbed and beaten inside the hotel room. Gupton's Facebook page indicates that he's interested in women.

Jen Caltrider told Towleroad that White was her best friend in college and was injured in the Iraq war.

"He suffered severe injuries in an explosion in Iraq nearly 10 years ago while protecting a US base as a private contractor," Caltrider said. "He's served on both the Border Patrol and the Air Marshals. He is a good man who deserves all of our love and support right now."

GuptonChemistry Nightclub, as well as another local gay bar, have organized benefits this weekend to help defray White's medical costs. An online fundraising campaign had raised $520 by Wednesday afternoon.

Drew Wofford, owner of Chemistry Nightclub, posted the following on the bar's Facebook page:

To All Greensboro: with great sadness and a heavy heart I write this post. Sunday morning our friend and regular customer Steven left Chemistry by cab to a local hotel with Garry Gupton whom he met earlier that evening. A few hours later, Steven was viciously assaulted, robbed and set on fire in the hotel; over 52% of his body is severely burned. This brutal attack has left Steven hospitalized and fighting for his life. Now it’s our turn to help. This weekend, on Saturday November 15 the Q will be holding a silent auction from 2 – 6pm to raise money. That night, all of us at Chemistry will be doing our part. First let me say how proud I am of my staff and entertainers for their willingness to help. They have all agreed to donate their pay and tips; Chemistry will be donating the entire door cover, and all Jello Shot sales. Steven has a long road ahead of him but he is a fighter and he is definitely not alone. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we are all fighting for him. Also I remind you to please use caution when leaving our bar or any bar with someone you don’t know. I never would have dreamed something like this would happen here in Greensboro … but let’s make sure it never happens again.

 

NOM and North Carolina GOP Leaders Appeal Pro-Equality Marriage Ruling to Fourth Circuit

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Anti-gay state lawmakers in North Carolina, joined by the National Organization for Marriage, have appealed Judge Max Cogburn's October 10 ruling striking down the state's gay marriage ban to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

The News & Observer reports:

Within hours of a split ruling by a 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel upholding gay marriage bans in four states, attorneys for North Carolina legislative leaders filed notice in the federal courts of their plans to appeal rulings in North Carolina that struck down a gay marriage ban. The court document, filed by John C. Eastman [right], a California lawyer and chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, outlines the plans of Phil Berger [left], president pro tem of the N.C. Senate, and Thom Tillis [middle], speaker of the state House, to appeal a ruling in October by U.S. District Judge William Osteen Jr. that nullified a 2012 amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

With the Fourth Circuit having already settled the gay marriage debate via its Virginia ruling in July, all signs point to this being a fruitless effort, but at least Tillis is getting to tout his anti-gay credentials before being sworn in as the state's new U.S. senator in January...

Read the notice below via Equality Case Files:


Clay Aiken Loses Bid For Congress in North Carolina

AikenVariety reports that American Idol alumnus and openly gay congressional contestant Clay Aiken has lost his bid for North Carolina's 2nd district: 

Aiken, a Democrat, trailed incumbent Renee Ellmers 57% to 43% with 69% of the vote counted.

In a district that leans Republican, Aiken was an underdog. He downplayed his celebrity and instead focused on local issues, while Ellmers tried to dismiss his candidacy given his showbiz connections. She even tried to tie him to President Obama’s economic policies, calling it the “Aiken-Obama economy.”

As Lisa Keen pointed out previously, Rep. Renee Ellmers has a zero rating from the HRC for two terms.


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