On Feburary 11, 2012 Sarah Nordstrom and Erin Johnston were at a fast food restaurant where they were verbally harassed by one male and two females based on the perception of their sexual orientation. The three individuals followed them home where the male committed physical assault by punching Nordstrom repeatedly in the face. Johnston had turned away to call the police when the man attacked her from behind. He knocked her to the ground and repeatedly kicked and stomped her face and body. Nordstrom had extensive injuries including a broken eye socket, a broken nasal cavity, and a severely broken cheekbone. Johnston’s injuries included two fractured ribs, a torn meniscus on the left side of the jaw as well as bleeding in the joint, and torn cartilage in the nose. Nordstrom and Johnston did not know these people, had never heard of them, talked to them, etc., before this event. Taking all of this into account, this assault occurred based solely on their perceived sexual orientation.
The State of North Carolina does not recognize hate crimes based on sexual orientation, and has even chosen not to pass bills which would have added sexual orientation to the list of hate crimes. The purpose of this petition is to draw attention to this issue so that others do not suffer through the same experiences with which they are dealing. Recognizing hate crimes based on sexual orientation would deter similar conduct in the future, and provide a state statutory basis for individuals harmed to recover against those who have perpetrated these acts against them. It is time that the North Carolina state legislature recognizes the unfortunate reality that these types of crimes take place, and make it a priority to change the laws in accordance.
We urge you, the NC state legislature, to recognize the equal rights that need to be extended to EVERY North Carolina citizen. The laws in place protecting people of varying race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin from hate crimes also needs to extend the same protection to people of varying sexual orientation. The man who brutally beat Sarah Nordstrom and Erin Johnston just because of their perceived sexual orientation will not be punished as harshly as if a man beat two females for their race. This is an issue that needs to be addressed so that ALL future hate crime victims will be protected equally.