A crowd of about a hundred gathered in Berea Monday to show support for a lesbian couple targeted by vandals. Organizers also used the event to draw attention to the need for a fairness ordinance in the Madison County community.
Participants chanted as they marched from Berea’s Union Church to a building where the city’s Human Rights Commission was scheduled to meet. There they discovered that the meeting had been relocated to City Hall to accommodate the crowd.
Six commission members and a few dozen in the audience listened as Whitney Preston told the story of what happened last month at the house she and her wife own, just outside Berea.
"Black spray paint was on my wife’s work truck and then my back stop had ‘Lesbo’ written on it.”
Preston says she considers the vandalism to their house and truck a hate crime.
“It directly pointed out my sexuality. Had they wrote anything else it wouldn’t have been a hate crime. But the fact that they took my sexuality, singled it out, tried to scare me with it.”
Members of the Human Rights Coalition listened intently to Preston’s story and reacted by passing a motion reiterating their commitment to documenting hate incidents in the community and promoting community education programs.
“This case actually has a Berea address but it happened in the county," Mim Pride is chair of the commission, “So, it’s being investigated by the sheriff as a criminal case.”
Director of Kentucky’s Fairness Campaign, Chris Hartman, says an incident like this drives home the need for a fairness ordinance such as one rejected by Berea’s council in 2014.