June 30, 2012 at 11:43 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
More than 100 attend D.C. vigil for Texas lesbian couple
Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Crime

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin speaks at Dupont Circle vigil (Blade photo by Blake Bergen)

More than 100 people gathered in Dupont Circle on Friday for a vigil in honor of a lesbian couple that was shot last week in a Texas park.

“Last Friday night, a week ago tonight, as many prepared for LGBT Pride celebrations around the country, 19-year-old Mollie Olgin was taking her girlfriend of five months, 18-year-old Kristene Chapa, to a movie,” said Jamie McGonnigal, who co-organized the gathering with Jay Carmona. “They had some extra time on their hands, so they stopped by a local park [in Portland, Texas.]”

Chapa and Olgin were found in the park the next morning—Olgin was pronounced dead at the scene, while Chapa remains in intensive care with a shotgun wound to her head. Authorities continue to investigate.

While it remains unclear whether the women’s sexual orientation was a factor, those who spoke at the vigil said the shooting underscores the violence and discrimination that LGBT people continue to face.

“We can’t stand around and take this any longer,” said the Rev. Avinash Macquarie of the United Fellowship Church. “Mollie Judith Olgin did not deserve to die because she loved Mary Christine Chapa. Mary Christine Chapa should not be in the hospital fighting for her life because she loved Mollie Judith Olgin. No one should ever be judged because of their attractionality. We must begin to fight this ugly creature called discrimination. We must fight with our voices as we tell the world we are not going to continue to let gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people be killed.”

Andrew Barnett, director of the Sexual Minority Youth Action League, and Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence Chair A.J. Singleterry made similar points.

“The fact that it’s this hot and there’s still this many people here is an indication of how sick to death we are of losing our young people,” added Maya Rupert, federal policy director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “We owe you a better world to become adults in than the one that we have right now. There is work that is being done. We are doing things to make things better, but you matter. I want to echo that point. You matter.”

The Dupont Circle vigil was one of more than 25 in honor of the couple that took place across the country.

The D.C. gathering also took place three days after Alvonica Jackson, Ali Jackson and Desmond Campbell allegedly stabbed a 16-year-old boy near the Howard Theatre in what police have described as an anti-gay hate crime. The D.C. Council earlier on Friday held a hearing on hate crimes and the Metropolitan Police Department’s response to them. Alvin Bethea, who read a letter on behalf of the mother of Deoni Jones, a transgender woman who was stabbed to death at a Northeast bus stop in February, was among those who testified.

“It’s important that we all come together as a community and reject violence against all people, against all human beings,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “Texas is a long ways away, but we’re in our nation’s capital and so all of you being here today sends that message and says to those in Texas who are investigating that the world is watching—that the world is watching to ensure that the investigation is handled properly and thoroughly handled by the local authorities that are there investigating.”

Meanwhile, police in Portland, Texas this week said that an eyewitness has come forward in the shooting, according to ABC news. Police contend there is not yet enough evidence to classify the shooting as a hate crime, but thanks to the eyewitness account, they say they are now seeking a white male with dark hair around 5’8” and about 140 pounds, in his 20s.



Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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