A gay couple from the Panhandle woke to find a threatening message painted on their porch, and they think the perpetrator was egged on by an anti-gay and blatantly political newspaper ad taken out by a Church of Christ pastor.
According to Connectamarillo.com, Joshua Harrison and Jeremy Jeffers say they found "Leave or die fags" painted on their front porch Monday morning, and the local sheriff has said that he is treating the death threat as a hate crime.
The two have been living as a couple for about 18 months in Clarendon, Texas, population 2,026. They told Connectamarillo.com that they had little trouble until September 20, when the Clarendon Enterprise ran an ad penned by Clarendon Church of Christ pastor Chris Moore.
Moore's ad claims that "the Homosexual Movement" wants to eradicate all age of consent laws, thus, in Moore's words, making "our children legal prey for pedophiles."
The ad also states the "the Homosexual Movement" wants to allow people of every orientation to marry multiple partners, each of whom would be able to share medical benefits with any one spouse who was covered.
"So if 2 or more people want to be considered a 'married group,' and one has a job with benefits, they want everyone in their 'love group' covered," Moore groused. "Who do you think pays for that perverted lifestyle?"
The ad goes on to characterize committed lesbian partners as "vile," and states that this agenda has allies in Barack Obama and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Moore is no stranger to blending church and state; his church's blog stumps for a Ten Commandments monument to be placed on the lawn of the Donley County Courthouse.)
"You can't call yourself a Christian and continue to vote for these people who would enable this kind of perversion. Please consider these things as our election looms closer. Ginsburg has pancreatic cancer and will be replaced no later than the next term, whoever the president is. Obama will replace her with another just like her. You and I can make a real difference."
Jeffers and Harrison claim that the ad has made a "real difference" in their lives already. "It's funny that two weeks after this article comes out in the newspaper that people in town are starting to be rude to us and then we get out front porch vandalized," Harrison told Amarillo.com.
Clarendon was founded in 1878 by a Methodist minister as a godly, sober alternative to the then-prevalent wild-and-wooly cowtowns nearby. Clarendon was so allegedly Godly that cowboys used to call it "Saints' Roost."
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And now intolerance, bigotry, and the threat of violence just might drive two of its citizens out of town.
"I'm absolutely terrified because if there are people in this town that are willing to go to the lengths to vandalize our house and to scare us, they they might be going the lengths to do physical harm on us," Harrison said.
Pastor Moore stands by his remarks in the ad but condemns vandalism and violence as "un-Christian."