Last night, an unknown arsonist torched the Abounding Prosperity Community Center, a predominantly black LGBTQ health center located in South Dallas, Texas. The two-alarm fire started sometime early Friday morning in the rear of the building. Dallas firefighters responded to a call about the blaze around 6 a.m. Friday morning. They reportedly extinguished the flames within an hour. Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesperson Jason Evans said investigators have declared the fire as arson-related, but have not yet mentioned any suspects or other details. Since 2005, Abounding Prosperity has addressed “health, social and economic disparities among Black men with a particular emphasis on gay, bisexual and male to female transgender individuals” by offering HIV and STI testing, counseling, support groups, linkage services and other services. While the center sees over 1,500 clients annually, last night’s fire has forced the organization to move some its services to its main headquarters, also located in south Dallas. Abounding Prosperity has launched a $50,000 fundraiser to help repair its center. At the time of publication, the fundraiser had only raised $897 of its overall goal. The fire comes on the heels of another fire affecting the Dallas-Fort Worth LGBTQ community: the destruction of The Rainbow Lounge gay bar in Fort Worth. Unlike the Abounding Prosperity fire, the Rainbow Lounge fire occurred accidentally rather than deliberately. As of March 2017, there had been at least 10 documented attacks on LGBTQ community centers around the U.S.. In October 2016, an arsonist tried to set fire to the Las Vegas LGBT Center. Although investigators have yet to determine the motives of the arsonist involved in the Dallas blaze, Texas government officials have been inflaming passions against LGBTQ people through three recent incidents. Last week, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that married same-sex couples may not qualify for spousal benefits provided by government employers. In June 2017, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a law allowing religious adoption agencies to refuse children to LGBTQ couples. Throughout 2017, Texas legislators have threatened to pass Texas Senate Bill 6, a transphobic bathroom bill that would ban cities from allowing public accommodation ordinances requiring businesses to let trans people use the bathrooms matching their gender identity.
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