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Florida home of
gay couple burned

Florida home of
gay couple burned

A mobile home belonging to a gay couple in Lakeland, Fla., was torched and an offensive epithet spray-painted on the front steps, authorities said. Paul Day, 25, and Christopher Robertson, 23, returned home from errands Monday to find their house in Kings Manor Mobile Home Park burned and the words "Die Fag" spray-painted on the front steps.

The case is being investigated as an arson with burglary, Lakeland Fire Department spokeswoman Cheryl Edwards said. But officials remain tight-lipped about whether it was being investigated as a hate crime, which would allow for enhanced criminal penalties. The law defines such a crime as one in which the victim is intentionally picked based on race, color, religion, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, advanced age, or mental or physical disabilities. Edwards said Friday that the fire department wasn't releasing any information about the incident.

Day said someone apparently poured a flammable substance all over the carpet and torched it, causing an estimated $15,000 in damages. The home, which just had three months' worth of renovations completed, is in ruins, Day said. When Day moved to the mobile-home park a couple of years ago, he said, a group of teens and young adults sometimes taunted him as he checked his mail. "I tried to not associate with people here," said Day, who works at an auto parts store in Auburndale. "We've just tried to stay to ourselves." (AP)

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