National News Highlights — August 12, 2022

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Robert Fehring (l) arrives at court with his attorney — Photo by James Carbone, Newsday via AP
Robert Fehring (l) arrives at court with his attorney — Photo by James Carbone, Newsday via AP

Retired New York man gets two years for hate crimes by post
Robert Fehring, 74, has been sentenced to 30 months in prison after mailing violent threats to LGBTQ+ people, groups, and businesses over several years, including threats to blow up the historic Stonewall Inn and the New York City Pride march.

The retired schoolteacher pleaded guilty to the charges in February. His attorney, Glenn Obedin, said in an email, "We are disappointed in the length of the sentence, but Mr. Fehring is happy to be putting this nightmare behind him. He is deeply remorseful for what occurred, and looks forward to living quietly with his family once he has served his sentence."

An FBI search of Fehring's Long Island home turned up two loaded shotguns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, two copies of threatening letters, and a stamped envelope addressed to an LGBTQ-affiliated attorney. The envelope contained the remains of a dead bird.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodny Harrison said in a statement, "Rober Fehring made heinous threats against members of the LGBTQ community in locations throughout New York, including Suffolk Country, for nearly eight years. Thanks to the tireless work of our department's Hate Crimes Unit... Fehring is being held accountable for his crimes."

Licenses now, the rest later: New York DMV adds "X" gender option
New Yorkers now have the option to mark their gender identity on their driver's licenses with an "X" — no longer by standing in line but by going to the DMV website and applying for the change. The "X" option appeared after the state passed a law in 2021.

"I am excited to announce this historic change that represents another victory in our fight to help ensure equality and respect for the LGBTQ+ community," New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said in an announcement. "In New York, we are taking action to help ensure [that] every person feels welcomed, represented, and free to live their truth, regardless of their gender identity or expression."

DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder said, "We are thrilled that our customers can go online to privately and simply amend their license or ID to reflect who they are without fear of judgment."

According to the governor's website, the state's budget includes legislation that would require state agencies to provide the same "X" option on all state forms that collect gender and sex information.