|Sun Apr 4, 1999 -
11:00AM EST - REPORTS THAT PROSECUTOR MIGHT PLEA BARGAIN HENDERSON, AVOID TRIAL
According to Court TV, the
recent delay in starting the Shepard trial (apparently it's been put off until at least
Wednesday now), may be due to efforts to reach a plea bargain with the defendant.
I have no further information, and don't mean to disparage anyone
here, but I do worry about one thing. During the trial of the murderers of Allen
Schindler, the gay sailor who was brutally budgeoned to death by shipmates several years
ago, the prosecutor decided to plea bargain one defendant in order to get his cooperation
against the second defendant. But this led to two problems. First, the first
defendant got a ridiculously light sentence as a result of his "cooperation."
Second, the prosecutor didn't need the first defendant's testimony anyway, he
already had more than enough evidence to convict them both.
- Do either of these guys deserve any ligher punishment
because they're now "cooperating"?
- Isn't there enough evidence to convict them both without
- What happens if we get a plea, and during the trial of
defendant two, the first guy comes out and says "I was lying, it really was me who
killed Matt, defendant two simply watched"? Defendant one is protected because
his case is over, and defendant two gets a lighter sentence because the jury now has
doubts about who is to blame.
One added concern here. An earlier AP article
spoke of the prosecutor not wanting to play the "gay card" - i.e., talking about
the gay-hate aspect of this trial might make bigoted jurors more likely to acquit. I
worry about whether the plea has something to do with that. Is there actually
concern that the jurors might acquit because the murderers were inspired by anti-gay hate?
Is the biggest anti-gay murder trial in US history not going to mention the g-word?
Are gay Americans required to stay in the closet, even in death?
Isn't it ironic that there are fears that a state that
wouldn't include sexual orientation in its hate crimes laws, because it wasn't needed, now
might not convict a murderer because his victim was a "fag." If ever there
was proof of the need for such a law, this is it.
Thu Apr 1, 1999 - 12:10PM EST - MRS. SHEPARD
SPEAKS IN SUPPORT OF HATE CRIMES LEGISLATION
(Matt's mom, Judy Shepard, spoke at a recent press conference organized by the Human
Rights Campaign and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights)
Thank you Elizabeth. Before I go any
further, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the thousands of people throughout
this country who have written or called with their support. Your kind words and warm
thoughts have helped sustain me and my family through this very difficult time.
Before Matthew died, my husband and I had
given little thought to the issue of hate crimes legislation. We, of course, deplored
reports of violence that would from time to time come to us through the media, but we
focussed very little on what our government could do about it, either at the state or
federal level. We have been reluctant to speak about it until we understood more.
Since, his death, we have learned a great
deal. To be clear, I am here today in response to what I have learned sincee Matthew's
death not in response to it. My attorney has advised me not to comment on the upcoming
trials. My husband and I want to allow justice to run its course and we will respect due
While it is true, perpetrating violence on
another individual is against the law regardless of the motivation, violence motivated by
hate has deep ramifications and is often times meant to intimidate entire groups of
people. Hate crimes laws first send a message that these crimes will not be tolerated in
our society, a message that sadly needs to be heard by some people. Equally as important,
these laws would provide law enforcement with tools they might need in pursuing these
cases and making sure that justice is served.
There is ample evidence that hate crimes
laws are needed. My heart stands with Daryl Varrette who is with us today. The savagery of
what occurred to his Uncle, James Byrd Jr. is beyond human comprehension.
It is my firm belief that this legislation
is necessary in all 50 states and at the federal level. No one will ever know if these
laws would have saved Mr. Byrd's life, or even my son's life. But we can begin today by
building a safer world for all Americans, including gay and lesbian Americans. There is no
guarantee that these laws will stop hate crimes from happening. But they can reduce them.
They can help change the climate in this country, where some people feel as though it is
Ok to target specific groups of people and get away with it. If just one is stopped. If
just one potential perpetrator gets the message of this legislation and there is one less
victim, then it will be worthwhile.
On behalf of my family, I call on the
Congress of the United States to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act without delay. Also,
a state and federal partnership combatting hate crimes can save lives. I urge the 21 state
legislatures which have hate crimes laws that exclude sexual orientation to include it. I
also urge the 8 state legislatures that have no hate crimes laws, including my home state
of Wyoming, to enact them. And, I urge Gov. George W. Bush of Texas to reconsider his
opposition to hate crimes laws that include sexual orientation. There is no exuse for
Thu Apr 1, 1999 - 12:10 PM EST - JAMES BYRD'S
NEPHEW SPEAKS OUT FOR HATE CRIMES LEGISLATION
(This statement was given at a press conference organized by the Human Rights Campaign and
the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights)
We are here today to ask that you pass the
James Byrd Hate Crime's Act in memory of our beloved son.
The last several months have been the most
difficult months we have ever lived through as a family. Faith in God and in the goodness
of people has helped us survive and see past the racial hatred that killed our son.
Although we are seeking justice in the courtroom for James' death, we are also united in
our efforts to prevent these senseless acts of hatred. That is the reason we urge you to
support the James Byrd Hate Crime Act.
We believe the James Byrd Act will help
prevent other families from experiencing the pain of hate crimes. Hate crimes cause our
communities to be violently divided because of race, religion, sexual orientation, and
ethnicity. We cannot have that kind of painful division any longer.
Preventing hate crimes has to be our
priority so that other Texas families do not have to live through the pain of losing
someone because of hatred.
As our Texas lawmakers, we ask you to help
lead the way to ending hate crimes by passing the James Byrd Hate Crime Act.
Tue Mar 23, 1999 - 7:30PM EST - TRIAL TO OPEN
The trial of Russel Henderson, charged with being one of Matt's two
killers, begins on Wednesday March 24 with jury selection. Opening arguments are
expected to begin on April 6. This site will be updated regularly as news arises.
Stay tuned. JOHN
Tue Mar 23, 1999 - HRC, SHEPARD, BYRD
FAMILIES TAKE ON GOV. BUSH, SUPPORT HATE CRIMES LAWS
NEWS from theHuman Rights Campaign
919 18th Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 23, 1999
SHEPARD AND BYRD FAMILIES CALL FOR STATE AND FEDERAL HATE CRIMES LEGISLATION TO COMBAT
HATE MOTIVATED VIOLENCE
HRC Blasts Texas Governor George W. Bush's Anti-Gay Stance On Hate Crimes
WASHINGTON -- On the same day Texas Gov. George W. Bush said he opposes including sexual
orientation in a state hate-crimes law, family members of two hate crimes victims
announced their active support for federal and state hate crimes legislation at a press
conference. The backing of Judy Shepard, mother of University of Wyoming student Matthew
Shepard, and Darrell Verrett, nephew of Jasper, Texas resident James Byrd Jr.,
reinvigorates the call for passing state hate crimes legislation and for passing the
federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
"No one will ever know if these laws would have saved Mr. Byrd's life, or even my
son's life. But we can begin today by building a safer world for all Americans," said
Judy Shepard at the press conference. "If just one is stopped. If just one potential
perpetrator gets the message of this legislation and there is one less victim, then it
will be worthwhile." "There is no greater threat to our liberty and national
unity," said HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch at the press conference. "As
a nation, we must look in the mirror long and hard and ask ourselves what is the right
course of action. Will the memories of James Byrd Jr. and Matthew Shepard fade into
history, or will we rise to the challenge and stand against the escalating wave of hate
that is infecting the soul of our nation?"
Just as support and momentum for passing hate crimes legislation is growing, Gov. Bush
announced that he is opposed to clarifying Texas' hate crimes law by explicitly adding
sexual orientation. "We are appalled at the position of Governor George W.
Bush," said Birch. "Apparently being a compassionate conservative does not
include protecting the victims of hate crimes or their families. His position is
shortsighted and lacks the spirit of moderate leadership he espouses. We think he should
Shepard and Varrett were joined at the National Press Club by Elizabeth Birch, HRC
executive director; Wade Henderson, executive director, Leadership Conference on Civil
Rights; Dianne Hardy Garcia, executive director, Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby of Texas and
state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Texas, Chair, Judicial Affairs Committee. Earlier this
month, a bipartisan group in Congress reintroduced the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a bill
that would add sexual orientation, gender and disability to existing hate crimes statutes.
Only 21 states have hate crimes laws that include sexual orientation and eight states have
no hate crimes laws.
Under current law, a hate crime can be federally prosecuted only if it takes place on
federal property or because the victim is exercising a federally protected right, such as
voting or attending school. These limitations can tie the hands of those investigating and
prosecuting hate crimes. The Hate Crimes Prevention Act would help alleviate these
limitations by allowing federal involvement when necessary and by helping forge a strong
and lasting partnership between state and federal law enforcement officials in fighting
While state and local authorities have and will continue to play the primary role in the
investigation and prosecution of hate violence, federal jurisdiction would provide an
important backstop to ensure that justice is achieved in every case. The Hate Crimes
Prevention Act limits the federal government's jurisdiction to only the most serious
violent crimes directed at persons, not property crimes. This bill would allow states with
inadequate resources to take advantage of Department of Justice resources and personnel in
limited cases that have been authorized by the Attorney General.
Last year, two tragic hate crimes shook the nation. The brutal killings of Matthew Shepard
and James Byrd Jr. focused the nation's attention on the growing problem of hate violence
against minorities. Shepard was allegedly killed by two men in part because he was gay.
Byrd, an African-American, was dragged to death behind a truck by white supremacists. More
recently, Billy Jack Gaither was murdered in Alabama by two men who said they killed him
because he was gay. Since 1981, hate crimes have nearly doubled. In 1997-- the FBI's most
recent reporting period -- race-related hate crimes were by far the most common,
representing nearly 60 percent of all cases. Hate crimes based on religion represented 15
percent of all cases. And hate crimes against gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans
increased by 8 percent -- or about 14 percent of all hate crimes reported. The Hate Crimes
Prevention Act has broad bipartisan backing and support from notable law enforcement
agencies and state and local leaders, including 22 state attorney generals, the National
Sheriff's Association, the Police Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian and gay political organization,
with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign
support and educates the public to ensure that lesbian and gay Americans can be open,
honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.
Fri Feb 5, 1999 - 7PM EST - MATTHEW SHEPARD
MATTHEW SHEPARD UPDATE
February 5, 1999
MATT'S PARENTS ON NBC TONIGHT - FRIDAY
NBC's Web site is reporting that Matt's parents are going to be on Dateline NBC tonight at
MORE ON MATT'S PARENTS GOING PUBLIC
Information has been leaking out all week about Matt's parents' various interviews.
Apparently, they've gone public and told the media that Matt tested HIV positive after his
death - and that he likely was unaware that he was infected. They also will apparently say
tonight on NBC that `It's a very frightening concept as a parent that your son now becomes
a martyr, a public figure for the world,'' Judy Shepard told Dateline NBC, "He's just
our son.'' His mother also said: `You must understand, it's like putting him on a pedestal
that just won't work. I'm concerned that if people find out that it's not true, they'll be
disappointed or angry or hate him." She also explained that Matt was clinically
MATT'S MOM JOINS CROSS-COUNTRY TREK
Judy Shepard has announced the "International Hike Against Hate and Violence", a
2,500 mile Alaska-to-Laramie journey to begin in June. The hike will take a "Flame of
Hope" from Skagway, Alaska, on June 3 to Laramie on Oct. 12, when a ceremony as well
as lighting of a permanent flame are planned.
WYOMING KILLS HATE CRIMES BILL FOR YEAR
According to the Associated Press on February 3, "four months after gay college
student Matthew Shepard was beaten to death, a move to pass a hate crimes bill in Wyoming
was scuttled Wednesday by a legislative committee. The committee killed two bills, and
supporters said that ended their hopes for the year. State lawmakers have rejected similar
measures four times since 1995."
GAY GROUP OPPOSES DEATH PENALTY FOR KILLERS
According to the Casper Star-Tribune, "a national gay rights organization has
condemned an Albany County prosecutor's decision to seek the death penalty against two men
accused of killing a gay University of Wyoming student. The group, Queer Watch, issued a
challenge to other gay rights organizations to take a similar stance against capital
punishment in the high-profile case....In a telephone interview Michael Petrelis, a Queer
Watch member in San Francisco, denounced the 'continuing silence of prominent gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgendered organizations" about capital punishment. Putting
anyone to death for the murder of Shepard is just as barbaric as tying the victim to a
fence post and leaving him to die in sub-zero temperatures,' he said."
IN OTHER NEWS (THIS IS MY NON-MATT-RELATED GAY RIGHTS NEWS PARAGRAPH)
This week a very interesting, and disturbing, controversy broke out when Kirby Frank of
Atlanta found a sweepstakes on a Microsoft-partnered Web site that offered a free trip to
the Caribbean, sponsored by US Airways, for one lucky couple. Unfortunately, when Frank
checked out the fine print, it explained that the "couple" had better be a man
and a woman. Incensed that Microsoft and US Airways could endorse such discrimination,
Frank set off a chain of events that eventually ensnared Yahoo!, Online Vacation Mall, a
number of fragrance companies, and more. The companies are apologizing left and right
(well, at least some of them) - and now the ACLU and a prominent DC Internet lawyer have
said that civil rights laws may have been broken, a number of industry representatives are
very nervous. Read more about this ongoing injustice at http://www.wiredstrategies.com/resort.html
That's it for now.
Thu Dec 17, 1998 - 9AM
EST - VIRTUAL VIOLENCE CLOSES SHEPARD MESSAGE BOARD
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, December 15, 1998 - 8PM EST
Contact: John Aravosis, 202/328-5707, firstname.lastname@example.org
Matthew Shepard Web Site Attacked
Wrestling fans, angered over online poll, shut down bulletin board with "virtual
Washington, DC - The bulletin board of the Matthew Shepard Online Resources Web site http://www.wiredstrategies.com/wwwboard
was shut down Monday as the result of a coordinated attack by thousand of anti-gay fans of
pro-wrestler Mick Foley. Foley's supporters, angered that the slain
student was winning a Time magazine online poll for "Man of the Year" http://cgi.pathfinder.com/time/moy/index.html,
overwhelmed the board with a continuous onslaught of anti-Shepard and anti-gay messages,
requiring the site to be temporarily shut down.
"On the same day Matt's mom announced the Matthew Shepard Foundation, thousands of
wrestling fans descended on my site to belittle Matt's death and attack gay people,"
said John Aravosis, president of Wired Strategies, who has been managing the site since
Shepard's attack and death. "They wrote 'AIDS kills fags, and so do I', and called
Matt 'faggot', 'little queer,' and 'Dead Homo of the Year.' It was absolutely
sickening," said Aravosis.
The Online Resources site <http://www.wiredstrategies.com/shepard.html>, a
comprehensive source of information on the anti-gay hate crime, gained prominence shortly
after Shepard was brutally murdered in Wyoming in October of this year. The site received
half a million hits its first week of operation, and Time magazine, CNN, US News &
World Report, and the University of Wyoming all established links between themselves and
the Shepard site. The bulletin board has been used to plan at least 70 vigils to honor
Shepard across the country and abroad, and to share grief about the student's murder. In
addition, when the vandals struck Monday, a number of grassroots activists were in the
process of using the board to create a new virtual organization devoted to fighting hate.
"The messages were so hateful and numerous that my regular visitors begged me to take
the board down," said Aravosis. "Instead I opted to erase all the messages -
good and bad - until this blows over," he said.
Aravosis explained that the assault began when someone posted the bulletin board's address
in a wrestling newsgroup called RSPW ("rec.SPORT.pro-wrestling"). Early Monday,
December 14 the messages began, and quickly overwhelmed the site's regular users. While
the entire Shepard site recently received between 2,500 and 4,000 "hits" a day,
on Monday it received 13,000 hits as a result of the attack. In addition, Aravosis noted
that the bulletin board normally gets at least 70 to 100 messages a day from visitors
moved by Shepard's death - yet in the day following the attack, only a handful of Shepard
supporters posted messages to the site.
"It's really sad," said Aravosis. "It took a bunch of homophobes one day to
nearly destroy an online community we spent two months building. I only hope the damage is
temporary and people come back," he said.
Additional anti-gay posts to the Matthew Shepard Online Resources bulletin board:
Posted by IP:184.108.40.206 RSPW ICON on December 14, 1998 at 08:41:53:
you cum slurping fags can't stop the Mick Foley express, you fruit cups should just give
up and keep wearing your panties, and flower dresses. besides why would anyone vote for a
dead fag when "Our Lord and Savior,
Mick Foley" is in the house. see ya @ Monay Night Raw 2 nite. i'll be the guy
Posted by IP:220.127.116.11 Pete Kof on December 14, 1998 at 12:34:09:
HO look her eits 1939 Berlin all over again! Whats wrong..hate the fact that some people
dont liek gays or their lifestyles? Can't deal with it so you have to go crying to their
sysadmins? This is why special interest groups liek yours are hated in this country,
because you cry and bitch and stomp your feet when you realize that you are in a lost and
dying cause. just dont read their posts if it offends you. trust me, facist censorship
like yours scares me a LOT more than some stupid wrestling posts.
Posted by IP:18.104.22.168 Pete Kof on December 14, 1998 at 12:28:41:
Who died and made you God you moralizing bitch?
[This was posted in response to an apology posted on the site by the wrestling newsgroup's
Posted by IP:22.214.171.124 Stephen Morelock on December 14, 1998 at 14:24:11:
Mick Foley deserves it much more than the fag
Why are all you homos cheating? Foley deserves it so much more than that faggot.
Posted by IP: 126.96.36.199 Pvt Hudson on December 14, 1998 at 01:31:46:
Mick Foley deserves to be Man of the CENTURY. So what if this Shepherd guy got beat up one
time, Mick gets his tail kicked nightly. So please people, think this through. This isn't
the Time 'Dead Homo of the Year' List... but if it was I'd have to vote for Michelangelo,
Liberace, or my Uncle 'Tickles', sorry Matthew Shepherd fans.
Posted by IP:188.8.131.52 Mick Foley is God on December 15, 1998 at 13:56:03:
In Reply to: I Will Remember You: For Matthew posted by Andrew on December 15, 1998 at
I HATE FAGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted by IP:184.108.40.206 Mick Foley is God on December 15, 1998 at 13:58:18:
Matthew Shepard Is A Fag! I just wanted to share that with everyone.
Posted by IP:220.127.116.11 wu9tang from RSPW, brahs! on December 14, 1998 at
we gotta vote for foley
we cant let that faggot beat him
foley is the icon
that faggot just got his ass kicked
it was probably in use anyway
vote foley, not faggot.
Read articles about this issue by Time & People
Mon Dec 7, 1998 -
9:30Am EST - NEW HATE SPEECH WEB SITE LAUNCHED
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - December 7, 1998
CONTACT: John Aravosis, 202/328-5707, email@example.com
ANTI-GAY RHETORIC CHRONICLED ON NEW WEB SITE
Religious Right "message of love" sounding a lot like hate
Washington, DC - Over 120 examples of anti-gay religious right hate speech are chronicled
on a new Web site, published today by Wired Strategies. The archive, part of the larger
Matthew Shepard Online Resources site, is a free resource to counter fundamentalist
assertions that their vocal campaign against the civil rights of gay Americans is simply a
"message of love."
The site http://www.wiredstrategies.com/hate.html
includes quotes from Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, the Family Research Council, the
American Family Association, and other extreme political activists. Hyperlinks are
provided to speech on "family values" Web sites, which still host many of the
most demeaning anti-gay references. Aravosis hopes the site will help visitors get
involved by providing links for them to email examples of hate speech to national and
In addition, the site chronicles the quotes of Dr. Paul Cameron, a now-discredited
scientist, whose extreme views on gays (e.g., "Unless we get medically lucky, in
three or four years, one of the options discussed will be the extermination of
homosexuals") led to his removal from a number of professional organizations, and his
censure by a court of law. The site details how groups like the Family Research Council,
the ex-gay movement, and the American Family Association to this day use Cameron's
debunked "research" to malign gays.
"In the wake of Matt Shepard's death, the religious right has been in a frenzied
denial of their hateful speech. But the facts - and this Web site - speak for
themselves," said John Aravosis of Wired Strategies. "The quotes on this Web
site are not just un-American, they're un-Christian," added Aravosis.
"Militant fundamentalists can't continue to dehumanize gay people, then feign shock
when one gets bashed or killed," said Aravosis. "Matt's killers were anti-gay
bigots who found solace in a culture that demonizes gay people as perverts, pedophiles,
and pagans. Religious right hate speech feeds and nurtures this culture. It's time we
shamed them into stopping speech that amounts to a loaded gun."
Sample quotes from the site:
"many of those people involved in Adolf Hitler were Satanists, many of them were
homosexuals, the two things seem to go together, it is a pathology it is a sickness."
Family Research Council:
"There is a strong undercurrent of pedophilia in the homosexual subculture."
American Family Association:
"Prominent homosexual leaders and publications have voiced support for pedophilia,
incest, sadomasochism, and even bestiality."
Colorado for Family Values
"homosexuals, while representing perhaps 2% of the population, perpetrate more than
one-third of all reported child molestations."
"They start by pretending that it is just another form of love. It's sickening."
Wired Strategies http://www.wiredstrategies.com
is a Washington, DC-based political Internet consulting firm specializing in public policy
Internet strategies for the government, nonprofit and private sectors.
Nov 13, 1998 - 8:00PM EST - COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY SUSPENDS
It's interesting to note that Colorado State University is suspending the students who
pulled a vile anti-gay prank at Matt Shepard's expense, yet NYU doesn't even think it
worthwhile to find the student who threatened anti-gay violence surrounding
Matt Shepard vigils. See next story after this for more information on NYU.
Associated Press, November 13, 1998
Eleven students punished at CSU
Participants in anti-gay prank receive varied sentences for actions
FORT COLLINS Eleven students have been given punishments ranging from probation to
suspension after a scarecrow mocking homosexuals ended up on a homecoming parade float,
Colorado State University said Thursday.
"We have taken action against all 11 students involved," said university
spokesman Tom Milligan.
He refused to specify which students received what punishment because of federal privacy
Milligan said the suspended students could reapply, if they meet certain conditions
including ethics workshops, reading and writing assignments, and community service. The
students were given hearings, and can appeal.
Milligan said the suspensions were based on parade violations and misleading statements
given university officials after the incident.
The scarecrow appeared on the float Oct. 10 while Matthew Shepard, a gay 21-year-old
University of Wyoming student, lay dying in a nearby hospital. He died Oct. 12 after his
fatal beating outside Laramie, Wyo., on Oct. 7.
Last month, Colorado State University withdrew recognition for the Pi Kappa Alpha
fraternity and the Alpha Chi Omega sorority over the incident. The sorority also gave up
University officials said it is possible for both organizations to regain their status,
but they said reinstatement would not even be considered for at least one academic year,
and would not be considered until the organizations complete community service.
"By recommending the withdrawal of recognition, the Greek Judicial Board has taken
the most severe action it can take," said Zach Bird, chairman of the student
governing board. The acceptance by the university of the vote by the judicial board means
neither organization will be able to use university facilities, nor participate in
"Our chapter members at Colorado State University of Alpha Chi Omega voted to
surrender their charter, and the board has voted to accept that charter," said Jan
Crandall, national president of Indiana-based Alpha Chi Omega.
"Our actions ... reflect Alpha Chi Omega's intolerance for this kind of
behavior," she said. "Our board and membership sends its deepest condolences to
the Shepard family."
Nicholas Haws, homecoming chairman for Pi Kappa Alpha, said the scarecrow on the float was
supposed to be in the uniform of Tulsa University's Golden Hurricane, Colorado State's
opponents in a football game Oct. 10.
He said someone vandalized the float, pinning a sign saying "I am Gay" and an
anti-gay epithet on the figure. He said the scarecrow was removed but someone placed it
back on the float before Saturday's parade.
Nathan Stanley, president of the Fort Collins chapter of the fraternity, said the
appearance of the scarecrow was inadvertent. National fraternity officials condemned the
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