Coming on the heels of a burned and shot Quran at the Annoor Mosque in Knoxville (not to mention arson at the Murfreesboro mosque site, as well as the mind-boggling claims being made by local anti-Muslim detractors), the burning of a lesbian couple's home in Vonore is yet another act of intolerance that's making East Tennessee look like a hotbed of small-mindedness.
WATE broke the story of the destruction of Laura and Carol Ann Stutte's house on Friday, and a follow-up by the News Sentinel today reveals that the couple had endured years of threats. The stories have been lighting up the national blogosphere with outrage; here's a sampling:
Dan Savage, editor of the Stranger in Seattle: Home of Lesbian Couple in Knoxville, Tennessee, Burned To The Ground
Pam Spaulding, of Pam's House Blend: Tennessee lesbian couple burned out of home in suspected hate crime needs help
Carla, manicsquirrel.com: Lesbian Couple Burned Out of Home. You Can Help!
Unfinished Lives: Lesbian Couple's Home Burned In Hate Crime
Jim Burroway, Box Turtle Bulletin: Tenn. Lesbian Couple's Home Torched
Steve Williams, care2 make a difference: Lesbian Couple's Home Burned Down in Possible Hate Crime
On the brighter side, Knoxville's LGBT (and LGBT-friendly) community has responded swiftly to aid the Stuttes. Maryville's new PFLAG chapter is gathering clothing and household items, while the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church has started a Vonore Family Fund.
For more info on how to help, PFLAG Maryville has set up a resource page.
Also: Knoxville Pridefest and the East Tennessee Equality Council have created a Google Checkout account to make electronic donations.
(So far, contributions have been made from all over the country, as well as Australia, Canada, and the U.K.)