Vonore Arson Victims Get Global Support

Laura and Carol Ann Stutte's home in Vonore was destroyed by fire on Sept. 4, with the spray-painted word "queers" on the side of their garage a pretty big tip-off to the probability of its being arson, and a hate crime at that. The Stuttes are lesbians, together as a couple for 15 years.

The act of intolerance that's making East Tennessee look like a hotbed of small-mindedness has had one unexpected upside: Among the LGBT community and allies reaching out to support the couple are donators from across the country and around the globe. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Carol Ann and Laura Stutte Fund established by local LBGT organizations had collected $6,067 from 175 donors, with 35 states and the District of Columbia represented, along with three foreign countries.

California, at 24 donors, was best represented, trailed by Tennessee with 18, then Washington State with 12, and Virginia with 11. Eight donors from Canada have chipped in so far, along with four from the U.K. and two from Australia.

To find out more ways to assist the Stuttes: pflagmaryville.org