A lesbian couple in Harlan County who believe they were attacked and beaten because of their sexual orientation want the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the case.
The Kentucky Equality Federation on Wednesday requested that the federal government pursue the case as a hate crime, according to a letter provided by Jordan Palmer, its president.
The federation, which advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, made the request for Misty Turner and Brandy Standifer.
Turner, a 28-year-old nurse, told the Herald-Leader she and Standifer have lived openly as a couple for three years in the Pathfork community.
Turner has a 5-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter. She shares custody with the children's father, so the children live with her and Standifer much of the time.
Turner said she and Standifer, an emergency medical technician, had never had problems in the community because of their sexual orientation.
That changed July 4, Turner said, when the couple, the children and other family members were at a fireworks show at Pathfork.
As they sat in a church parking lot to watch the show, people among a crowd at a nearby house began shooting fireworks at them, Turner said.
The fireworks landed among her group, burning her son, her 80-year-old grandmother and others, Turner said.
"There was just sparks everywhere," she said.
Turner said she had seen people who were at the house drinking beer.
Turner said that when her father walked toward the group and she went after him to stop him, people in the group attacked her. When Standifer tried to intervene, others from the group started hitting and kicking her and knocked her to the ground, Turner said.
People in the "mob" hit only her and Standifer, not others of their group, Turner said.
That's one reason she believes the attack was motivated by the couple's sexual orientation.
Turner said people from the crowd called them "dykes" and made other derogatory comments related to their sexual orientation.
"If you want to look like a man, let's see you fight like one," one man said to Standifer, Turner said.
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