Equality Riders' bus vandalized outside Tennessee's Lee University

Currently touring the nation's conservative Christian universities and military academies with 35 LGBT advocates in tow, the Equality Ride bus was vandalized outside a hotel in Cleveland, Tenn., with the homophobic message spelled out in pink letters.

BY admin

March 18 2006 1:00 AM ET

The Equality Ride
bus—in the midst of crossing the nation in the name
of tolerance and fairness—was defaced by
graffiti as a “Fags-mobile” at
Tennessee's Lee University on Thursday.

Currently touring
the nation's conservative Christian universities and
military academies with 35 mostly college-age LGBT advocates
in tow, the bus was vandalized outside a hotel in
Cleveland, Tenn., with the homophobic message spelled
out in pink letters. The Riders were nearby, planning
their action at Lee University inside one of the hotel's
rooms. The bus's driver reported witnessing a
middle-aged woman and a teenager drive away from the
scene. Cleveland police are currently investigating
the crime.

“The
attack on the bus is hate speech, plain and simple, spelled
out for everyone to read,” said Jacob Reitan,
Equality Ride codirector. “But a more subtle
form of hate speech happens when students at the schools we
are visiting are told they are sick and sinful just for
being the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender
people God made them to be.”

The attack on the
bus prompted the Riders to organize a Friday prayer
vigil in front of the university president's office to
bring attention to LGBT discrimination.

Ironically, the
trip to Lee marked the first time since the Equality Ride
tour began on March 5 that Riders were allowed on a school
campus. While they were not permitted to address
students in classroom forums or pass out literature,
the Riders joined students at a university chapel during
the morning worship service and presented a picnic and
concert in a nearby park that featured gay
Christian pop duo Jason & deMarco. More than
60 students and community members attended the festivities
and discussed gay and lesbian issues with the Riders.

The Equality Ride
tour was organized by Soulforce, an LGBT rights group
that focuses on religion-based discrimination and religious
freedom. (The Advocate)

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