Gilbert Gay Couple See Plight Go Viral

Pat Shannahan/
Roy Messerschmidt (right) joins supporters of him and his partner, Felix Bermea, at a protest Saturday at Warner and Gilbert roads in Gilbert. The gay couple want police to prosecute as a hate crime the harassment they’ve faced.

Police, stung by e-mails,
seek hate-crime proof

By Jim Walsh and Parker Leavitt
Monday, July 16, 2012 09:45 P.M.
The Arizona Republic |

Angered by the harassment of a gay Gilbert couple and disappointed by the police response, friends of the men turned to a powerful ally: the Internet.

Bloggers have picked up on the Facebook page “Help Protect a Gay Couple in Arizona.”

slideshow Gilbert protest

Soon after, Gilbert Police Chief Tim Dorn found himself and his department under attack worldwide as they were flooded with e-mails sent from Denmark, Germany, Northern Ireland and Australia.

“We find it absolutely unacceptable and unbelievable that you are not able to solve and prevent these horrible crimes,” wrote a couple from Copenhagen, Denmark. “We want you to know that this case (has) reverberated all around the world and also to our country.”

On Saturday, an unprecedented protest occurred in the shadow of Gilbert Town Hall: About 50 people rallied near the campaign signs of conservative Gilbert politicians at Warner and Gilbert roads in support of Felix Bermea and Roy Messerschmidt, carrying American flags and rainbow flags symbolic of gay rights.


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