NY State family values: Father & Son live together in prison

May 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

Today’s on-line edition of the New York Times includes a story about two men – a father and son – doing time together in the Elmira Correctional facility in New York State. Scott, 42, and Bernard Peters, 69, were arrested in 1995 after a string of violent robberies and one in particular that finally ended their spree.

Scott and Bernard Peters

Privileged New Yorkers

In August of that year the father and son were charged with shooting and robbing Mary Halloran, 61, the manager of the Salvation Army thrift shop.  According to the article, “the money was the day’s proceeds from the sale of goods that had been donated to support the Salvation Army’s drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs in Syracuse. Mrs. Halloran was shot once in her right thigh.”

She recovered but spent the rest of her life struggling in physical therapy and eventually died of cancer. Mrs. Halloran was robbed of $726.

The father and son team ended up being sentenced to serve 25-50 yrs for their crimes and have been sharing a cell for nearly 15 years.

Bernard has been married three times. His first wife, Scott’s mother, died of a blood disease. The second marriage isn’t discussed in the article. But what stands out is Scott’s history.

A high school drop out, Scott married his wife when he was 18 years old and moved in with her to raise their son. He was first arrested at the age of 19 for threatening and intimidating his neighbors with a shotgun. A year later he was involved in a stand off with the police after threatening to kill his wife. The article ends with a a story about a visit from Scott’s son who is bringing his newborn to prison to meet his grandfather.

“One day in January, Scott was in their cell when he received word that he had a visitor. His son, Scott, had brought along the newest member of the Peters family, his 4-month-old son, Jaden. All of Scott’s five grandchildren were born while he has been in prison.” Emphasis mine.

This traditional family stays together and propagates while law abiding citizens in New York that happen to be in same-sex relationships can’t get any legal recognition in the state – via domestic partnership or civil union or marriage – without leaving the state to get a marriage license somewhere else.

Is this just? Is it reasonable that these two shiftless petty thugs should be allowed a privilege that is withheld from decent people in the state that deserve the same rights and liberties that criminals are allowed?

The NY State legislature is conflicted about passing a law that would make same-sex marriage legal. In 2006, the NY Court of Appeals did not find a right to same-sex marriage in the state constitution leaving the dilemma to be resolved by the legislature. At that time a candidate running for governor of the state said about that, “same-sex marriage runs contrary to the religious traditions of millions of New Yorkers of all faiths.”

And if something runs against the religious traditions of all faiths then it’s acceptable to deny recognition.

Which religious tradition honors divorce – or armed robbery – or domestic violence – or shooting an unarmed 61 year old woman?

Why is it acceptable to hide bigotry and supremacist ideology behind a transparent veil of religious tradition?

The NY State legislature isn’t protecting religious tradition. They are promoting false – and unchallenged – notions of the supremacy of heterosexuality.

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