Lesbian Couple In Van Buren Co. Seeks PPO After Enduring Slurs About Sexual Orientation

Posted at 7:10 PM, Sep 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-19 21:01:34-04

A woman in Van Buren County claims her neighbor has been harassing her and her partner because they are lesbians.

Jo Ann Morgan of Almena Township is seeking a personal protection order against the alleged perpetrator in court.

Thursday, she and Margie Johnson headed to the Van Buren County Courthouse to try and get the order against the man that they say is responsible.

Morgan said she captured numerous videos of his truck purposely belching out black smoke near her home on County Road 653.

It’s something that she said is a familiar sight there.

“This year alone we have over 40 incidents,” said Morgan.

Morgan said her neighbor started reving his engine in order to pour out the smoke around six years ago after he found out she was a lesbian.

She alleges he’s also insulted her on several occasions.

“He kept yelling at me from his driveway, kept calling me ‘Butchy, butchy…want to act like a man butch?’  And he sits over there and he grins! He grins about this. He thinks it’s funny,” said Morgan.

Thursday a state police trooper also testified that he felt that the neighbor was harassing Morgan and her partner because of their sexual orientation.

Trooper Anthony Turner of the Michigan State Police said, “From what I was gathering, it was starting to fit the criteria.”

However, the man’s attorney argued that no protection order should be granted by the judge.

He says the name calling was simply a spat among neighbors and a personal protection order is not designed for this type of disagreement.

In fact, he pointed out that there were never any charges filed following the response by the Michigan State Police.

The neighbor also defended himself before the judge, saying the insults were part of a mutual argument that had been ongoing for years.

I did call her names. She called me them back,” said the man.

Also, he stated that the black smoke that was coming from his truck was unintentional, due to a mechanical issue.

He said repairing it was not an option because of the expense.

The judge will be considering whether or not to issue a PPO over the coming days.

The case has caught the attention of the group, “Equality Michigan”.

It’s a political organization, fighting for gay and lesbian rights.

See the link here:

Members said they are watching the case closely.

The group feels there needs to be more protections for those who are targeted with harassment for their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“I think there’s  a lot more hate going on, than people want to bring forth,” said Morgan.

“This case is about hate, and I think right now the judge has an outstanding opportunity to send message that hate is not going to be tolerated,” said Jim Kolosowsky, Morgan’s attorney.