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Man Gets 15-Plus Years for Burning Pride Flag

Adolfo Martinez said it was his 'honor' to set LGBT banner on fire in Ames, Iowa
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2019 10:15 AM CST

(Newser) – An Iowa man will have a lot of time to reflect on how burning an LGBTQ flag in June wasn't the right move. The AP reports that Adolfo Martinez, 30, was convicted last month, and Wednesday he was sentenced to at least 15 years behind bars for an arson hate crime, with an additional 30 days tacked on for harassment, per Story County records. The June 11 incident took place after Martinez got kicked out of the Dangerous Curves strip club in Ames and threatened to come back and burn the bar down, per an Ames Police Department spokesman. Police were called to the scene shortly after midnight, which is when they found, burning in the street outside the bar, a car tire and a gay pride banner Martinez had ripped off the front of the Ames United Church of Christ, reported KCCI at the time.

The flag featured a rainbow design and read "God is still speaking." "We believe God is still speaking to us through the Bible and through each other ... and because of that we've been able to get to a place where we can affirm all of God's children, including queer people," said the Rev. Eileen Gebbie, a church minister who herself is gay. Martinez told KCCI in June that he was "guilty as charged" and that it was his "honor" to burn the flag. "It is a judgment and it's written to execute vengeance on the heathen," he said. The judge was all for the maximum sentence, as Martinez has a history of harassment. "Nobody got shot [and] nobody was sexually assaulted," says Gebbie, who tells KCCI her church offered money to help with Martinez's legal bills and to take care of his three kids. "It was a banner. How much does that hurt? But I had to reflect on the fear it created in our sanctuary." (Read more LGBT stories.)

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