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House of Mont. Couple Set on Fire

February 9, 2002

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) _ The house of a lesbian couple was set on fire Friday, just days after they had been named as lead plaintiffs in a discrimination lawsuit against the Montana university system.

Carla Grayson and Adrianne Neff escaped the early morning blaze with their infant child through a window. They were not seriously injured.

Police Capt. Bob Reid said it appeared the intruder broke into the home and poured flammable liquid through much of its interior, then set it on fire. The house was gutted.

The American Civil Liberties Union said the women, along with other plaintiffs, received death threats by mail after the suit was filed.

``Whoever set this fire did not intend to simply frighten or intimidate this family. They meant to kill them,″ said Matt Coles, director of the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of gay and lesbian employees who claim the state university system violates their rights by denying their partners health insurance and other benefits.

Grayson is a psychology professor at the University of Montana in Missoula. Her name, as well as Neff’s, had appeared in newspaper articles about the lawsuit.

``We just really hope that the campus and the Missoula community respond and say this kind of thing is unacceptable,″ said Rita Munzenrider, a spokeswoman for the university.

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