A Michigan woman who married her partner in a televised ceremony after a federal judge overturned the state ban on gay marriage was assaulted Monday in a crime authorities think was bias based.
The 28-year-old Ypsilanti Township woman was punched unconscious while trying to walk home after she got off the bus about 6 p.m., the Detroit Free Press reports.
She was walking through an apartment complex when she was approached by three men just before 6 p.m.
The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that one of the males stated, “Hey b----. Are you that (anti-gay slur) from the news?”
The woman and her wife were among the 300 gay Michigan couples who were able to marry during the brief 24 hour period between U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman’s ruling declaring Michigan’s voter-backed ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional and a 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stay putting the ruling on hold.
One of the other males reportedly punched her in the face, knocking her to ground and unconscious, according to the release. She came to, and one of the men kicked her in the torso.
The three men fled on foot.
The sheriff’s office described one of the suspects as a white man in his mid-20s, about 5-foot, 10-inches to 5-foot, 11-inches tall, heavyset and with a low or husky voice.
The victim could not identify the other two assailants.
Anyone with information on the attack on the Ypsilanti Township woman is encouraged to call the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office anonymous tip line at (734) 973-7711 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK UP (773-2587).
'Surprised it Took this Long'
Yvonne Sifred, director of victim services for the LGBT advocacy group Equality Michigan, told the Free Press that she isn’t surprised at the violence.
“I was actually surprised it took this long,” she said.
Last year, Equality Michigan took about 100 reports of slurs and assaults against LGBT individuals. Sifred said the Ypsilanti woman’s account of what happened is not unusual.
“A lot of times, they are just slurs,” she said. “Unfortunately, when unchecked, people feel empowered by them and (get physical).”
Michigan doesn't have specific laws that protect LGBT individuals against bias crimes, Sifred said.
Amicus Brief Peppered with Derogatory TermsThis isn’t the first hint of bias in the nearly two weeks since Friedman ruled the voter-backed ban was a violation of the Due Process Clause in the 14th Amendment.
In a development last week, a group with ties to the white nationalist movement filed an amicus brief supporting Attorney General Bill Schuette’s appeal of Friedman’s ruling. Kyle Bristow, an attorney for the Traditionalist Youth Network, filed the briefpeppered derogatory language and included the statement:
"If a state cannot be permitted to define marriage as simply as constituting one man and one woman, then our culture will be taken down a very slippery slope that will see pedophiles, polygamists, zoophiles, those in incestuous relationships, and every other sexual deviant with proclivities now known or to be invented to challenge laws that, likewise, prevent them from marrying whom — what — they wish."
Schuette denounced the brief.
"There is no place in this discussion for derogatory language, and anything like it will be completely disregarded by the Department of Attorney General,” he said. “The Sixth Circuit should use this brief to line a birdcage, because that's all it's good for.”
Bristow has a long record of anti-gay activism. As a law school student at Michigan State University in the mid-2000s, he was a leader of the Young Americans for Freedom group that brought a series of controversial speakers to campus for a so-called “straight power” rally outside Lansing City Hall in 2006.
The Southern Poverty Law Center classified Bristow’s group as a hate group in 2010 after Bristow published “White Apocalypse,” a novel the described as “seething with lethal white supremacist revenge fantasies against Jewish professors, Latino and American Indian activists and staffers of a group clearly modeled on the SPLC.”