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Posts for February, 2014

Indiana’s anti-gay marriage ban delayed two years

Timothy Kincaid

February 13th, 2014

The Indiana Senate has passed the House version of a bill to amend the state constitution to define marriage as one man and one woman.

This is actually good news.

In order to amend the constitution, the bill must pass two separately elected legislatures with identical language and then be ratified by a vote of the electorate. In 2011 the legislature passed a bill that would ban same-sex marriage and also civil unions. Had it passed again, it would have gone to the voters this fall.

But this year the Indiana House of Representatives revised that bill to remove the civil unions restrictions.

There was some concern that the Senate might put the original language back into the bill. But now that the Senate has opted to accept the House’s version, it resets the clock and the earliest that the bill can be on the ballot is 2016.

And by then, political will may bring the death of the bill entirely. Or, perhaps, the conservatives may decide that they really really do want to put the civil unions ban back in and push it even further down the road.

Indiana Senate Committee Passes Amended Marriage Ban Proposal

Jim Burroway

February 10th, 2014

In a straight 8-4 party line vote, the Indiana Senate Rules Committee gave its approval to a proposed constitutional amendment which, if approved by voters, would ban same-sex marriage. Crucually, the committee opted against restoring a second sentence to the proposed constitutional amendment that would also ban civil unions and domestic parternships. That second sentenced was stripped from the wording by the Indiana House in January.

The absence of that second sentence is crucial in determining when the proposed amendment would go before the voters. Indiana’s constitution requires that the identical language must pass two separately elected General Assemblies before a proposal can be placed on the ballot. The prior General Assembly passed the ban with the second sentence included in 2011. If both houses opted to keep the language intact, then then the proposed ban would hit the ballot box during the 2014 mid-term elections. But if the full Senate passes the newest version of the proposed ban, then the clock gets reset and the same ban would have to pass the next elected legislature as well. That would mean the earliest the amended ban could get to the ballot box would be during the 2016 elections, when voters will turn out to elect a president as well as Indiana governor.

Gov. Mike Pence (R) strongly supports the marriage ban, and has made it clear that he wants it decided “once and for all” this year rather than have it as a campaign issue while he’s trying to seek re-election in 2016.

Same-sex marriage opponents will have one more opportunity to try to restore the civil union ban when the measure goes before the full Senate. If they are successful, then the differences between the House and Senate versions would have to be hashed out in committee.

Indiana House Sends Marriage Ban to Senate

Jim Burroway

January 29th, 2014

The Indiana House of Representatives yesterday gave its final approval to a bill that would place a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage before the state’s voters. The 57-40 vote sends the measure on to the Senate.

The move comes a day after the House amended the marriage ban by removing a sentence that would also ban any “legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals,” which would also ban civil unions and domestic partnerships. Indiana’s constitution requires that the identical language must pass two separately elected General Assemblies before a proposal can be placed on the ballot. The prior General Assembly passed the ban with the second sentence included in 2011.

The bill now goes to the state Senate, which is expected to take up the measure next week. If the Senate approves the measure with the second sentence removed, then the next General Assembly will also have to approve the identical language before it can be placed before the voters. Under that scenario, the earliest that it could be placed on the ballot would be 2016, which would coincide with a presidential and gubernatorial election.

But anti-gay activists are now pressuring the Senate to restore the proposal to its original form. If it does so, the bill would then go to conference committee between the two Houses. If the second sentence survives the conference negotiations and is approved by the House, then the measure will appear on the 2014 ballot for the mid-term elections.

Indiana House amends marriage ban bill

Timothy Kincaid

January 27th, 2014

The Indiana House of Representatives has voted to amend the anti-gay marriage ban to remove the second sentence:

Only a marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.

The vote to amend passed by a healthy majority, 52 to 43.

The House has not yet voted on the bill itself. But if it does pass both the House and Senate as amended, it cannot go before the voters until the next legislative session passes identical language. This means that the bill cannot go before voters on the November ballot.

UPDATE: 23 of the state’s 69 Republican reps and 29 of 31 Democratic reps voted to strip the second sentence.

Indiana House to vote today on marriage ban

Timothy Kincaid

January 27th, 2014

The Indiana House of Representatives will vote around 1:30 today on HJR-3, a bill to place before the voters a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Only a marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.

But though Republicans hold a 69 to 31 advantage, the vote’s passage is not a foregone conclusion. (IndyStar)

In an Indianapolis Star poll of all 100 members of the Indiana House, 38 said they planned to vote in favor of House Joint Resolution 3, the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, while 38 said they would vote no. Another 13 members said they were undecided going into the weekend; 11 declined to give a response. That leaves the outcome uncertain, with 51 votes needed to pass or defeat the amendment.

It seems that the biggest deterrent to supporting the bill is the second sentence, which includes a ban on civil unions or any other form of couple recognition. While Indiana’s voters might oppose equality, this hard stance might be too far for some legislators and could threaten the success of voter ratification in the fall. The bill is also strongly opposed by the business community, which sees it as hostile to recruiting efforts.

The solution for some legislators may be to amend HJR-3 to remove the second sentence. As a bill has to pass two consecutive sessions with identical language, this would effectively table the decision for another two years.

Indiana GOP moves gay ban bill to the floor

Timothy Kincaid

January 22nd, 2014

As expected, the hand-selected committee chosen by Indiana House Leader Brian Bosma has given its rubber stamp to the divisive and discriminatory HJR-3, a proposal to put a gay marriage ban before voters in November. (Journal Gazette)

A panel of Indiana lawmakers has approved a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage, sending the measure to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The House Elections Committee voted 9-3 to advance the measure Wednesday evening. The vote followed weeks of intense lobbying, emotional testimony and widespread uncertainty on the issue.

Indiana marriage ban moved to another committee

Timothy Kincaid

January 21st, 2014

You may recall that last week the Indiana Judiciary Committee heard testimony on a bill to place a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality on the ballot this fall.

At the time, I said that if Republican Party leadership was smart, they would kill the bill in committee. Not only will it hurt the future of the party in the state, it may go down to embarrassing defeat in November and drag Republican candidates down with it.

And, for a moment, it appeared as though that might have happened. No vote was called on the bill.

But, as it turns out, the party leadership is astonishingly stupid. Stunningly so. (IndyStar)

In a highly unusual move, Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma today moved the controversial same-sex marriage ban to a new committee — where it stands a better chance of passing — after the measure stalled in another committee.

The measure had a hearing last week in the Judiciary Committee, but House Republican leaders decided against bringing it to a vote amid concerns that three GOP lawmakers might vote against it and kill the amendment.

Bosma said Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, Elections Committee chairman, told him he was not confident the amendment was going to come to the floor. Bosma said he didn’t talk to the members, but let Steuerwald do that.

Indiana to consider marriage ban bill today

Timothy Kincaid

January 13th, 2014

Today legislators in Indiana are scheduled to vote on a bill to put a marriage ban into the state constitution. It is likely the last time that a state will undertake such an effort.

In a sign that the public’s appetite for institutionalized discrimination is waning, this bill is facing uncertainty, despite Republicans holding majorities in both houses.

The problem is that for the amendment to be brought about, identical language must be approved by two consecutive legislatures and then approved by popular vote and, in their arrogance, the 2010 legislature went into full ‘ban everything’ mode.

Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.

Now the ‘no marriage, no civil unions, no other-state recognition, no employment benefits, no nothing, never’ approach seems heavy-handed and cruel. And many moderates and business leaders are warning that such an approach makes the state appear oppressive and hostile, neither of which are good for business.

Left with a start over or risk it choice, Legislative leaders are trying to have it both ways. Starting over would mean that the likelihood of passage of anything would be much lower in four years. And risking it runs the chance of defeat, which would almost certainly be seen as a sign that the nation has tired of anti-gay amendments.

So instead they are trying to “explain” the second half of the amendment language. (News Sentinel)

“I think it’s very advisable to have an expression of legislative intent that accompanies HJR 3 (the proposed amendment),” Bosma said last week. “There are valid questions raised about the second sentence of the amendment.

“It seemed to make a lot of sense to address the issues, but still make it quite clear that civil unions are not allowed — which is the substantially similar or identical language to marriage — and define it as a man and a woman, but remove these concerns people validly are raising in most cases.”

The opposition has pointed out specific situations in which this bill would hurt lives of people in Indiana, such as partners of employees at the state colleges. Which, based on the history of other states going for the “no, no, no, no” approach is true.

The legislative leaders are hoping that by “explaining”, they can confuse the issue enough that the voters will somehow overlook the problems that the bill would bring and the image of their state as the final Hate State. But the business community is not on board and moderates are not letting the leaders get by with such a flimsy card game.

Today is the first test in whether the social conservatives have sufficient grasp on the legislature so as to push the bill through. (abc57)

The amendment vote falls in the hands of the Indiana House Judiciary Committee, a panel of just 13 lawmakers.

All 4 Democrats on the committee are expected to vote it down, but they’ll still need at least 3 of the Republicans to join them in order to defeat the amendment.

If the party is smart, they will kill this bill in committee, promise to bring it back again, and then lose it in the shuffle. The odds are that they will instead taint the image of their party and their state and plop this steaming pile of animus and self-righteousness into the laps of the voters.

UPDATE:

You can watch the hearing here.

So far opponents have included gay Republicans, business groups and chambers of commerce. Actually, some pretty hard-hitters from our side. All either hard-core Republican activists or high-level businesses integral to the economy.

Perhaps one of the most unusual arguments from a very conservative attorney is that because the second sentence is so ambiguous, then the courts will make all future decision and not the legislature.

UPDATE TWO:

Legislator just ate up ADF’s representative by asking for an example of what the second sentence would prohibit. She kept trying to say it would not effect benefits, but couldn’t say what it would do. And the silly girl said “I can say with certainty” only to have it pointed out to her that her assertions disagree with history and have no weight.

UPDATE THREE:

The Judiciary Committee has adjourned and the vote has been delayed.

States Defy Pentagon Order Requiring Equal Treatment for Guard Members

Jim Burroway

November 4th, 2013

Several GOP-led states have vowed to resist Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s order requiring National Guard to issue ID cards to spouses of Guard members who are in same-sex marriages. Those ID cards are critical for accessing spousal benefits. According to Reuters:

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, the Republican head of the National Governors Association, called on President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to “stop using the National Guard as a pawn in a larger social agenda,” her spokesman, Alex Weintz, said in a statement on Friday.

“The president has made it clear he supports gay marriage. He has the legal authority to order federal agencies to recognize gay marriages. He does not have the legal authority to force state agencies to do so, or to unilaterally rewrite state laws or state constitutions,” Weintz said.

Josh Havens, a spokesman for Texas Governor Rick Perry, said, “Texas Military Forces is a state agency, and as such is obligated to adhere to the Texas Constitution and the laws of this state which clearly define marriage as between one man and one woman.”

Nine states were initially identified as refusing to issue identity cards to same-sex spouses: Indiana, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina and West Virginia. Reuters reports, “Indiana notified the Pentagon on Friday it had begun issuing the cards after a month-long review, a move defense officials said they welcomed.”

Louisiana has also confirmed that they will also defy Sec. Hagel’s order, while Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said she is exploring her legal options. Georgia’s National Guard has said it will ignore Hagel’s order.

Defense Secretary Orders State National Guards To Treat Gay Couples Equally

Jim Burroway

November 1st, 2013

Since the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act last June, the Defense Department has been rushing to implement policies designed to treat legally wedded same-sex couples equally with married couples generally. But several states have refused to issue Defense Department ID cards to same-sex spouses of National Guard members. Those states include Indiana, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in a speech to the Anti-Defamation League, has announced that he is putting a stop to such discriminatory practices:

“Today, I directed the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Frank Grass, to take immediate action to remedy this situation. At my direction, he will meet with the Adjutants General from the states where these ID cards are being denied. The Adjutants General will be expected to comply with both lawful direction and DoD policy, in line with the practices of 45 other states and jurisdictions.”

A senior defense official told the Washington Blade that the Pentagon has some critical leverage to deploy against recalcitrant states:

“These are federal ID cards paid for with federal funding to provide federally mandated benefits,” the official said. “I’m not going to speculate on our legal options.”

Indiana GOP “delays” anti-gay marriage vote

Timothy Kincaid

February 8th, 2013

Back in February 2011, the Republican-led Indiana legislature overwhelming supported a bill which would bring an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment up for a vote. But in order to amend that state’s constitution, two separately elected legislatures have to support the bill, which means that it has to be voted on again either this year or next.

This year is off the table. (indystar.com)

Legislative leaders, even as they believe it is time for voters to weigh in on the issue, decided to postpone until next year the necessary and final vote in the Indiana General Assembly.

Their reason? Well there’s the public reason and the reason I think is real – and, oddly, they are a variation of each other.

I think that the Indiana GOP (unlike the Iowa GOP) is not suicidal. And they’ve pretty much figured out that not only would an amendment lose in a 2014 election, but that it just might take the Party down with it. So, they’re going to find some reason not to vote on this beast.

The public reason is that they want to wait until after the Supreme Court rules on Proposition 8.

“Prudence dictates that we wait,” Bosma said.

If lawmakers had voted this year, he said, “we could find ourselves in the very inadvisable situation of having a matter on the ballot in 2014 that has been ruled unconstitutional and there is no means of removing it from the ballot.”

Which is, in a way, sort of the same thing. Both are based on recognition that society has moved on, that equality is now increasingly seen as constitutionally protected and that the Supreme Court may well find it to be so.

Is There An “America’s Ugliest Town” Contest I Don’t Know About?

Jim Burroway

May 31st, 2012

It seems that everyone is looking for their Big Viral Internet Meme in the sun. The problem is, some of those viruses are deadly. A pastor in Newton, North Carolina wants to round up gay people and put them in concentration camps; his flock stands behind him. Another pastor, Curtis Knapp of New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, Kansas, says that gays should be killed:

They should be put to death. That’s what happened in Israel. That’s why homosexuality wouldn’t have grown in Israel. It tends to limit conversions. It tends to limit people coming out of the closet. — ‘Oh, so you’re saying we should go out and start killing them, no?’ — I’m saying the government should. They won’t but they should. [You say], ‘oh, I can’t believe you, you’re horrible. You’re a backwards neanderthal of a person.’ Is that what you’re calling scripture? Is God a neanderthal backwards.. in his morality? Is it his word or not? If it’s his word, he commanded it. It’s his idea, not mine. And I’m not ashamed of it.”

Knapp later claimed that he really didn’t mean it, using words to suggest that he really, deep down, did. “We punish pedophilia. We punish incest. We punish polygamy and various things. It’s only homosexuality that is lifted out as an exemption,” he told CNN.

And then there’s the viral video of a four year old boy at the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle in Greensburg, Indiana, singing, “Ain’t no homo’s gonna make it to heaven.” The congregation leapt to its feet in shouts and applause. Someone — a parent probably? — shouted “That’s my boy!” They loved it so much that they brought the kid up for an encore. Greensburg is where 14-year-old Billy Lucas killed himself because he was perceived as being gay. The community banded together for a massive cover-up, but Billy’s memorial page on Facebook told the real story, leading me to dub Greensburg America’s Ugliest Town.

And you know what? It apparently still is, although several other pastors are trying to put their own towns in the running.

Gay, Pro-Gay Candidates Win Big

Jim Burroway

November 9th, 2011

Yesterday was a very good day for gay and -pro-gay candidates throughout the country. Here is a wrap-up. Please let me know what else is out there in the comments.

NOM Loses Big: Same-sex marriage remains secure in Iowa as Liz Mathis won big, 56-44%, over her NOM-backed opponent, Cindy Golding, in a special election for the Iowa state Senate. The National Organization for Marriage threw about $40,000 toward their failed attempt to elect Golding by making same-sex marriage an issue in the race. But soon after it was clear Golding lost, NOM’s cultural director Thomas Peters tweeted: “That’s what happens when a state GOP nominates a weak candidate.” Wow. Talk about your fair weather friends.

Virginia’s First: Adam Ebbin became the first openly gay state senator in Virginia after defeating his Republican challenger by a margin of 64-35%. His district, which is solidly Democratic, includes parts of Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax counties.

First Openly Gay, African-American Republican Mayor: At least that’s what we think happened when Bruce Harris was elected mayor of Chatham Borough, New Jersey.

Charlotte’s First: LaWana Mayfield became the first openly gay city council member as part of a Democratic landslide in North Carolina’s largest city. North Carolina, which will see a marriage amendment on the ballot next year, saw a number of other LGBT victories:

  • Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt won re-election with 78% of the vote.
  • Lee Storrow, a gay 22-year-old UNC grad won his race for a seat on the Chapel Hill city council.
  • Carrboro incumbent Alderwoman Lydia Lavelle was re-elected to another term for city council.

Cincinnati’s First: Chis Seelbach became the first openly gay city council member. He worked in 2004 to help defeat Article XII in the city charter which banned anti-discrimination ordinances for gay people.

Indianapolis’s First: Zach Adamson became the first openly gay city council member. S

Missoula’s First: Caitlin Copple became the first openly gay city council member. She defeated one of only two city council members who voted against the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance in 2010, which made Missoula the first city in Montana to provide discrimination protections in housing and employment regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Youngest Mayor: Alex Morse, 22, beat incumbent mayor Mary Pluta in Holyoke, Massachusetts, to become the nation’s youngest mayor.

Houston Re-elects: Mayor Annise Parker was re-elected with more than 50% of the vote, a margin which allows her to avoid a run-off. Mike Laster also became the first openly gay member of Houston’s city council.

Traverse City Supports Anti-Discrimination Ordinance: Voters in Traverse City, Michigan voted by a 2-to-1 margin to keep an anti-discrimination ordinance.  The vote came more than a year after Traverse City adopted the ordinance to prevent discrimination against gays in employment, housing and other areas. Opponents of the measure collected signatures to place a referendum for repeal on the ballot.

And on a final note, there were a number of gains in school board elections around the country which I didn’t cover, but I would like to point one out anyway: Daniel Hernandez, Jr., Rep. Gabrielle Gifford’s openly gay intern, was elected to as seat on the board of the Sunnyside Unified School District in Tuscon’s south side. Hernandez was one of the recognized heros during the January shooting at a Northwest side Safeway which killed  six and critically injured Rep. Giffords. And on a more personal note, I couldn’t be happier about the stunning news that Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, architect of infamous anti-immigrant S.B. 1070 which was later found unconstitutional, was ousted by voters in favor of a political newcomer in Mesa.

Indiana Legislator Gives A New Meaning To “Talking About Baseball”

Jim Burroway

August 26th, 2011

New rule: it's not gay when you're talking about sports.

There was a time when hiking the Appalachian trail meant, well, hiking the Appalachian trail. It doesn’t anymore. In today’s adventure in euphemisms, Indiana State Rep. Phillip Hinkle says that when he went trolling on Craiglist’s Casual Encounters section under “m4m” to find an eighteen-year-old man to pay $80 for companionship with the promise of a $50 to $60 tip for a “really good time”  because Hinkle loves “getting and staying naked,” it turns out what he really had in mind was talking about basketball baseball. Which totally makes him not gay.

Update (8/27): Basketball, baseball — they’re the same thing, aren’t they?

Another Anti-Gay Lawmaker Caught In Rentboy Scandal

Jim Burroway

August 12th, 2011

At least he's a good tipper.

This time it’s Indiana state Rep. Phillip Hinkle (R-Wayne, Pike Twps). The Indianapolis Star has emails that were exchanged between Hinkle’s personal email account and a young man who had placed an ad in the “Casual Encounters” section on the Craigslist under “m4m.” The two met at a downtown Indianapolis Marriott after Hinkle offered Kameryn Gibson $80 with the promise of a $50 to $60 tip for a “really good time.” Part of the email exchange went like this:

The email offers “to make it worth (your) while” in cash, and offers a personal description: “I am an in shape married professional, 5’8″, fit 170 lbs, and love getting and staying naked.”

Fifteen minutes later, Kameryn Gibson replied: “Yes I can!” He also sent along his phone number.

What followed was an email exchange between phinkle46 @comcast.net and Kameryn Gibson. One email from Hinkle’s account asks “what will make you happy for giving me a couple hours of your time tonight?”

Gibson: “Wat (sic) can you give me?”

Phinkle46 @comcast.net: “How about $80 for services rendered and if real satisfied a healthy tip? That make it worth while?”

The two agreed on the price and discussed logistics. An email sent at 9:44 a.m., also with the signature “Sent from Phil’s iPad” and sent from Hinkle’s personal account, lays clear the parameters for the tip: “Final for the record, for a really good time, you could get another 50, 60 bucks. That sound good?”

Gibson said that after they met in the hotel room, he tried to leave after Hinkle told him he was a state lawmaker. He said Hinkle at first told him he could not leave, grabbed him in the rear, and sat down on the bed and let the towel he was wearing drop to the floor. Hinkle  later gave Gibson an iPad, BlackBerry cellphone and $100 cash to keep quiet.

Hinkle responded to the Star’s story by saying only that claims that “I am aware of a shakedown taking place.” He referred all other questions to his attorney. No police report alleging blackmail has been filed.

On February 15, 2011, the Indiana House approved a proposed amendment to the state Constitution banning same-sex marriage and civil unions. The vote was 70-26, with Hinkle supporting the measure (PDF: 4 KB/1 page).

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) called the scandal a “family tragedy,” but refused to say whether Hinkle should resign the seat he’s held since 2000. State House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) called it “an extremely sad and disappointing situation,” and said the would discuss the matter with Hinkle “and chart a course from there.”

Living In A Post-Tucson World

Jim Burroway

February 23rd, 2011

Jeffrey Cox, Indiana deputy Attorney General responded to a report that riot police may be used to clear protesters from the Wisconsin Capital building, tweeted “Use live ammunition.”  You know, just like Libya’s Muammar al-Gaddafi. When challenged on his statement, Cox doubled down:

Cox remained steadfast in his position that the protestors should be killed when confronted on Twitter by Mother Jones’ Adam Weinstein, writing that “against thugs physically threatening legally-elected state legislators & governor? You’re damn right I advocate deadly force.” (There have been no reports that the protestors have physically threatened any elected officials).

Meanwhile, posters at Free Republic are calling on counter-protesters to an Atlanta pro-labor rally to arrive “with the usual accoutrements” because “the lefties are idiots who are very good at running their mouths… and also very good at keeping their distance from an armed American.”

Update: Cox was canned.

Indiana House Passes Gay Marriage Ban

Jim Burroway

February 15th, 2011

The Indiana House of Representatives today moved to make same-sex marriage even more illegaller in the state by approving a proposed constitutional amendment with a lopsided 70-26 vote. The measure now goes on to the Senate for consideration, where it is expected to pass easily. The Senate passed a proposed amendment in 2010, but it died in the lower house when it was under Democratic control. Republicans currently enjoy a 60-40 majority in the lower house and a 37-13 majority in the upper house.

In order to go onto the ballot for a popular vote, the proposed amendment will have to pass the Senate in this session, and then pass both houses again in the next separately elected legislature. The last time both houses approved a marriage ban was in 2005, which was also the last time the Republicans controlled the House.

Greensburg, Indiana: America’s Ugliest Town

Jim Burroway

September 17th, 2010

Want more reasons to be furious over Billy Lucas’ suicide?

Homophobic hate messages were left Thursday on a memorial page set up for Billy Lucas, a Greensburg High School student who killed himself last week after being mercilessly bullied, friends said. Numerous images were uploaded to a Facebook group, giving visitors a taste of the kind of hate Lucas endured, friends said.

The messages chided the teen about defending himself and made attacks on his presumed sexuality, 6News’ Joanna Massee reported. Lucas was found hanged in a barn at his grandmother’s house last week. Some of the messages attempted to make light of the way Lucas died.

In Greensburg, bullying doesn’t end with death. It goes on beyond the grave to torment those left behind. Greensburg, Indiana right now is the ugliest town in America.

More details from Billy Lucas’ last day

Timothy Kincaid

September 17th, 2010

More details have come out about the day that 14-year-old Billy Lucas took life. (WISHTV.com)

His mom last saw him around 8 p.m. that night as he put up the horses. In the police report she says he “was acting strange earlier and called 911…he told the dispatcher he was causing problems for his mom and people should come”. She told police she didn’t know why he called and told dispatchers there was no problem and not to come.

Billy had been suspended from school that day. Friends say he was fighting back with cuss words against the bullies. They say girls were harassing him in class when he stood up and let the words spew. He was suspended.

Jade Sansing met Billy as he was being harassed a year ago. She tells 24 Hour News 8 of his final days “everything seemed normal, but he did tell me some people were making fun of him and I told him I would help him and I did.” Help from Jade is now memories in the Facebook memorial page she created. She says, “I made a Billy Lucas memorial page so I could say my last goodbyes and everyone could know about the bullying.” She had to make her last goodbyes on the internet because there was no public funeral for Billy. Jade says the bullies would call Billy “gay and tell him to go kill himself.” Karen questions, “You actually heard people tell him go kill yourself?” She answers “yes”.

As for the school? They are denying everything.

The coroner and Greensburg school district say there is no evidence bullying led up to the suicide.

There is nothing about this story that doesn’t leave me furious and near tears.

With a mother like this, who needs bullies?

Timothy Kincaid

September 16th, 2010

The mother of Billy Lucas is defending Billy… from assumptions that he was gay. (Fox 59)

The mother of a teen who killed himself after being bullied is speaking out. Annie Lucas told the Greensburg Daily News that billy was not gay and added that he was too young to know what he was.

She says quote:”I know everyone has these assumptions but they’re not true. I know he was bullied. It wasn’t that he was gay. He was bullied for everything.”

She goes on to say, “I don’t want this to turn into a gay activist thing. I don’t want it to turn into anything.”

How many gay kids have heard, “you’re not gay, you’re too young to know anyway” from a parent that was far more concerned about their own social standing, religious opinion, or selfish plans for their child than they were about the mental health of the kid trying to open up to them?

As we’ve said from the beginning, we don’t know if Billy was gay.

But I do know that the bullying he experienced was primarily over assumptions about his sexual orientation. And I do know that if I were a bullied gay kid with this mother, life just might seem unbearable.

And now Annie Lucas is trying to make his death meaningless.

UPDATE:
I believe I neglected to share a detail that may have influenced my thinking on this matter. When reading the various news stories about Billy’s suicide, I ran across this comment:

Lucas had a history of fighting with his mother and problems at school.

Although I did not include it in my original commentary, it did impact the extent to which this story touched me. I felt that this poor kid may have had no adults in his corner and I do think that it is likely that his lack of a support network at home or school or anywhere really contributed to his overall feeling of worthlessness.

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