12, 1998 - 12:50PM EST - HATE CRIME THREATENED FROM NYU COMPUTER - UNIVERSITY UNWILLING TO
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 1, 1998
Contact: John Aravosis, 202/328-5707, firstname.lastname@example.org
ONLINE MESSAGE FROM NYU VIOLENTLY THREATENS GAYS, SHEPARD VIGILS
Latest in series of anti-gay threats spread via Internet
Washington, DC - Someone at New York University (NYU) posted a message to a Matthew
Shepard Web site yesterday threatening to "hurt any fag or dyke" holding vigils,
marches or demonstrations honoring the slain University of Wyoming student. This incident
is the latest in a series of online anti-gay attacks following Shepard's death. Recent
information suggests NYU may not consider this threatened hate crime important enough to
The message was posted Saturday, October 31 at 3:56 PM PST, on a bulletin board of the
Matthew Shepard Online Resources Web site - the board was created to assist in organizing
vigils in Shepard's name. Yesterday's message from Christ T. N. (i.e.,
"Christian") read as follows:
"Posted by IP:22.214.171.124 Chris T. N. on October 31, 1998 at 15:56:06: This
message is vigil related so please post it. I am WARNING all homos that if you try to hold
a vigil or march or demonstration in my city you will be met with brutal ass-kicking
force. I will personally hurt any fag or dyke who comes to force their perverted views on
us. After tuesday's election and great wins for the great Republican party, we will pass
laws to outlaw homo "vigils" nationwide. Your time is up fags!"
This post can still be viewed at http://www.wiredstrategies.com/wwwboard/messages/970.html.
The series of numbers at the top of the message (the IP address) trace it to someone
accessing the Internet from the Academic Computing Facility at New York University.
According to NYU's Web site http://www.nyu.edu, access to the Web is made available to the
students, faculty and eligible staff of NYU. It is believed that the university can likely
use their computers to identify the specific author of the message.
This is the latest in a series of anti-gay hate messages posted to the Shepard site. Two
previous postings read:
"Posted by str8 on October 22, 1998 at 12:04:16:
This is sick perverted behavior! All fags and lesbians will be punished in this country.
If not by the great Republican Congress or by the Courts of law, then surely God will
punish them. In the meantime I will do my part to punish with my fist and the heel of my
Posted by someone on October 20:
"It's not too late to try and be STRAIGHT. Give up your homo lifestyle or more fags
will die and lesbians raped and impregnated and forced to bear straight children. This is
war against you homo perverts!!"
The anti-gay hate on the Shepard site has not occurred in a vacuum. Just yesterday, the
Associated Press reported that two students at Holy Cross college in Worcester,
Massachusetts are facing disciplinary proceedings for sending anti-gay email messages to
all 2,200 students at the college. In addition, a number of gay organizations made news a
few weeks ago after receiving threatening emails shortly after Shepard was found brutally
"Anti-gay hate isn't just a small-town thing," said John Aravosis, who runs the
Matthew Shepard Online Resources Web site. "Whether it's from drop-outs in Wyoming,
or well-off kids at a Catholic college or big city university, hate knows no class,"
"These unfortunate incidents show that anti-gay prejudice is alive and well in
America, and more widespread than many would like to admit," Aravosis said.
"Let's hope that our political leaders wake up to that fact before there's another
According to NYU's statement of policy, each NYU Internet user promises that "I
understand that my access to NYU computing resources is for the sole purpose of
facilitating my work as a University student, staff member or faculty member." In
addition, the statement notes that: "Any abuse or violation of the rules outlined
here (or of other rules and practices governing the use of computer networks to which NYU
is attached) will lead to account suspension and immediate review, with the possibility of
account revocation, further disciplinary action in accordance with New York University
rules and procedures, and referral to local, state and federal law enforcement
authorities." The entire statement can be found at http://www.nyu.edu/acf/accounts/respon.html
As recent statements from NYU suggest that they do not consider such violent threats
against gay men and lesbians to merit a full investigation, Aravosis is urging concerned
citizens to call NYU president Jay Oliva at 212-998-2345, and email the NYU Webmaster at email@example.com, demanding that the university
conduct an immediate and full investigation of this threat, and deal swiftly and sharply
with the individual involved.
VOTE TUESDAY, REMEMBER MATT
Why vote this coming Tuesday? Because those who would demonize and dehumanize gay
people are ratcheting up their extremist rhetoric and actions to ensure that gay people
never fully share in the American dream. Consider the following:
* The House Republicans are bragging on their Web site at http://126.96.36.199/IssueFocus/TalkingPoints/TPMain/score.htm
that they killed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
* A lesbian college student was attacked in Minnesota, after attending a vigil for Matthew
Shepard, by two men, one masked and armed with a knife. One of her attackers was 5-foot-9,
225 pounds; the other was 5-foot-7, 190 pounds. Before they fled on foot, one told the
woman: "You're a smart dyke. Don't say anything to anyone." The woman, about
5-foot-7, was treated at St. Cloud Hospital for a bruised right eye and cuts to her face
* Four men were brutally attacked last weekend in San Francisco by five men who jumped out
of a van yelling "fags" and "honey."
* Two men were shot dead in Guerneville, California last weekend just after one of them -
who was gay - had repeatedly been harassed by a stranger.
* On October 15, UPI reports that a bisexual Cincinnati man was found beaten and strangled
in his home.
* Days before Matthew was attacked, a court in Hawaii sentenced the murderer of a gay man
to a simple misdemeanor offense, with a maximum sentence of one year.
* On October 20, someone posted this message on my Matthew Shepard bulletin board:
"It's not too late to try and be STRAIGHT. Give up your homo lifestyle or more fags
will die and lesbians raped and impregnated and forced to bear straight children. This is
war against you homo perverts!!"
The Republicans in Congress say we aren't victims of hate, and need no protection from
people who want to kill the fags and rape the lesbians. If you disagree, then do the
following things to help ensure a good and well-educated pro-gay vote on Tuesday:
1) Call the US Congress switchboard at 202/224-3121, ask for you Senators and House
Member, and ask their office if they did or did not support the Hate Crimes Prevention
Act. If you don't know your House Member, visit this Web site to find out http://www.house.gov/writerep/
Now remember: the cowards didn't even let the bill come up for debate, let alone a vote.
So there's no record of who voted for or against the bill, since no vote happened.
Therefore you need to be very firm and demand to know whether they support this bill or
not - i.e., will they vote for it in the next Congress or not.
2) Call the local campaign offices of anyone running for any position in your state and
ask if they support the federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
3) Vote next Tuesday - and if anyone from either Congress or a local campaign office gives
you anything other than an emphatic "YES - we support the Hate Crimes Prevention
Act!", vote against them on Tuesday.
4) Call and email all your friends, and make sure they vote on Tuesday, AND tell them what
you've found out from your phone calls to Congress and the local campaigns. Do another
round of calls and emails Monday night to make sure they vote on Tuesday.
5) If you're at a school, office, church, or other gathering place over the next 5 days,
use this as an opportunity to spread the word. Put up flyers, talk to your friends, family
and colleagues. Maybe give a speech.
6) Send letters-to-the-editor to your local paper immediately - either by postal mail
(look at your paper's editorial page for the address, and see if you can fax it to them),
or send it by email. You can find email addresses for a lot of local papers at http://www.berkshire.net/~ifas/activist/.
(7) Call the campaign of someone running for the US House or Senate who supported the Hate
Crimes bill (just call 411 to get the number) and volunteer to help their campaign over
the next 5 days - they could use the help, it's a lot of fun, and quite rewarding - and
drag your friends with you!
(8) Print out this message, or copy and paste it into an email message, and distribute it
widely via email, on message boards, to colleagues, coworkers, fellow church-goers,
family, students, etc.
Folks, a number of you have been asking what you can do to honor Matthew's life. Probably
the biggest thing you could do is to make sure you and everyone you know votes on Tuesday,
and make sure you vote with this horrible crime in mind. Our elected officials are
supposed to care about our lives and those of our loved ones. Let's make sure they know
that come next Tuesday.
Sat Oct 24, 1998 - 2:20PM EDT - WYOMING
OFFICIALS NOW DOWNPLAY HATE-BIAS MOTIVE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 24, 1998 - 2:00PM EDT
Contact: John Aravosis, 202/328-5707, firstname.lastname@example.org
WYOMING CONSPIRACY DOWNPLAYING "HATE" LINK TO SHEPARD MURDER?
US Senator becomes fourth Wyoming official to weaken statement surrounding anti-gay crime
Washington, DC - In an increasingly disturbing trend, US Senator Michael Enzi (R-WY) is
the fourth Wyoming official now backing down from an earlier statement linking "hate
and stereotyping" to Matthew Shepard's savage murder.
According to documents received by Wired Strategies, in response to a request that Senator
Enzi support federal hate crimes legislation, the Senator replied by email on October 15:
"let us work together to ensure that we avoid the kind of hate and stereotyping that
gave rise to this crime in the first place."
Yet on October 22, after another plea to the Senator to back such legislation, the Senator
replied: "let us work together to ensure that we avoid the kind of hate and
stereotyping that may have given rise to this crime in the first place." The latter
email changed the statement "gave rise" to "may have given rise,"
clearly downplaying the linkage between hate and Shepard's murder. The change prompted the
author of the initial email request to ask: "Is he downplaying the role of hate and
Enzis effort to diminish the hate bias link to Shepard's murder is in marked
contrast to the assessment offered by the victim's friends. Walter Boulden, a close friend
of Shepard who spoke at the DC vigil commemorating the murder, told the Associated Press
(AP) on October 9 that the crime was clearly motivated by hate. ``There is no maybe,'' he
told the Branding Iron, the campus paper. In addition, Terry Summers, a friend of Shepard
who is the executive director of the Fort Collins-based gay support group LAMBDA, told AP
that same day: "It seems pretty obvious from the court proceedings that he was beaten
and robbed because he was gay."
Ominously, the Senator is not alone in his effort to back down from earlier statements
characterizing Shepard's murder as a hate crime. When news of Shepard's murder first broke
on October 9, Albany County Sheriff Gary Puls initially characterized the attack as a
``hate crime,'' according to the Associated Press. When Puls was later asked if it was an
anti-gay attack, he replied: ``At the present time we are not confirming that."
Then theres Police commander Dave O'Malley, a 25year veteran of the police force,
who was initially quoted by AP on October 9 saying that there had been a few hate crimes
over the years, "but nothing anywhere near this." That same day, O'Malley
changed his tune away from an anti-gay bias motive, and was reportedly telling the press
that robbery was the chief motive, and that Shepard was victimized only in part because he
was gay, even though O'Malley admitted to AP that Shepard's accused murderers made
anti-gay statements to their girlfriends right after the murder.
In addition, Wyoming Governor Geringer was quoted by AP on October 9 saying: "hate
crime legislation is needed." Yet three days later on October 12, the governor
released a statement now belittling hate crimes legislation: "if hate is involved as
a motive, it can make the penalty more severe. That helps little, if the victim is
dead." The governor's statement went on to criticize the national attention the
Shepard case was receiving, almost implying hypocrisy on the part of Shepards
supporters: "I note with irony that the national press didn't bat an eye when young
Kristin Lamb was abducted from her grandparent's front yard, raped, murdered and dumped in
a landfill. That action is just as repulsive as the loss of Matthew Shepard."
Then on October 13, the governor's spokesman told ABC News that with regards to a hate
crimes law "the governor says he's still not convinced the state needs one." ABC
then showed footage of the governor actually chastising supporters of hate crimes
legislation: "we shouldn't be running off as a lynch mob might trying to look for
vigilante justice, because that would be just as wrong as the act we deplore
already." Quite a turn from the governors initial unequivocal statement of
support for the legislation.
"There may be a clandestine effort by Wyoming's officials to re-cast Shepard's death
as a simple robbery," said John Aravosis, an Washington, DC-based online advocate who
has been maintaining a Web site of information on the Shepard case
(http://www.wiredstrategies.com/shepard.html). "Whether it's blatant homophobia,
simple ignorance, or a cave to pressure from religious fundamentalists, the fact remains
that four key Wyoming officials have now backed off earlier statements establishing a
clear link between anti-gay hate and Shepard's murder. It's suspicious to say the
Also of concern, says Aravosis, is the fact that according to AP on October 9, Albany
County prosecutor Cal Rerucha refused to comment on the beating, and then asked the judge
to seal the records in the case. According to the Rocky Mountain News on October 11, those
records are now sealed and a gag order has been imposed in the case virtually
eliminating access to information surrounding the prosecution by the press and public.
"Were Wyoming's officials adopting a strategy of downplaying the hate crime aspect of
Shepard's gruesome murder, sealing the court records would be a great way to hide that
fact from the public," said Aravosis, who is a lawyer.
Fri Oct 23, 1998 - 11:15AM EDT - 'ELEGY FOR MATT' - A WIRED
Elegy for Matt
by John Aravosis
For ten days in October, the world came out. In a global electronic epiphany, a light was
turned on as millions tapped into an awareness, an understanding, and an empathy of
gayness that before October 9 most had never known.
We held vigils, sent emails, shared our grief, and demanded change. Many found a new drive
to live - and others, a spirit-to-fight long forgotten.
From Zimbabwe to Australia, and from Portland Oregon to Portland Maine, our love knew no
borders, we cast aside our prejudices, and tended the bedside of a dying young man.
"Thank you John, I am thousands of miles away here in Zimbabwe. But
I feel so deeply that I cannot put this in words!! Of course us gays here are totally
taboo, but one day we too shall win. It is my fervent belief that God has a special place
for us, and indeed a special purpose. Thank you my friend, Brian." - email, October
We came out to loved ones:
"I was afraid of what would happen to me if I came out. But, this
secret was tearing me up inside. I told my best friend that I was gay. Thankfully, she
accepted me for WHO I am not WHAT I am. Yesterday, I told another friend. Matt Shepard's
death must mean something. Even though he died because of irresponsible hatred, I will not
let that deter me. I am gay. It is the way that God made me. He made me this way for a
purpose. What that purpose is, I do not know. But I will not hide behind the shame and
hatred that I have lived behind for so long. Matt Shepard may have died, but his strength
lives on in each of us." - email, October 20, 1998.
We took a stand:
"This isn't just a gay thing anymore. This is really about humanity
and decency. Let every ounce of bigotry and hatred be met with equal measure of
determination to end it. We can do it. I've taken the gloves off. I just fuckin' dare one
idiot to cross my path at this point. I'm not looking for a fight but I sure as hell won't
tolerate a fool." - email, October 20, 1998.
We demanded an accounting:
"I am certain that the homosexual population of Mississippi, and
their families and friends would like to know why you, Senator Lott, consider the length
of Duck Hunting Season [a last-minute addition to the budget bill by Sen. Lott] more
worthy of your efforts than the safety of your voters. Or are you putting you gay/lesbian
constituents on the same level with ducks, open season on both?"- email to Senate
Republican Leader Trent Lott's office, October 21, 1998.
We rekindled our spirit:
"For 35 years I've been a happy gay guy living with my lover in
nice houses, but 35 years ago we - he and I - stood outside the Stonewall and
participated, not violently, very young then, but, upheld our fellows feelings. It was a
good feeling: one we can look back on with pride. I will begin to pick up the banner
again. We've hidden, happy, and complacent. [The Shepard case has] revive[d] a spirit I
thought I didn't need anymore."- email, October 20, 1998.
And we vowed to fight back:
"I have always voted for the person not the party - but now after
what the Republicans are doing and have done I cannot vote for even ONE of them. I will
vote along straight Democratic party lines!!!! Urge everyone to do the same and tell Lott
and his ilk that that is what we are doing!"- email, October 20, 1998.
Yet in spite of our renewal, and restraint, others choose to hate. They
make monsters of gay men and lesbians, while cloaking their message in hope, in love, and
Kill the gays:
" 'Lesbian love, sodomy are viewed by God as being detestable and
abominable. . . . Civil magistrates are to put people to death who practice these things,'
said Rich Agozino, host of [Christian radio show] 'Crosstalk' on radio station KBRT-AM
(740) in Costa Mesa, urging callers to write to their state legislators asking them to
enact laws that would punish homosexuality according to biblical law, meaning capital
punishment, according to a transcript of the Aug. 29 show." - Los Angeles Times,
September 5, 1997.
Rape the lesbians:
"It's not too late to try and be STRAIGHT. Give up your homo
lifestyle or more fags will die and lesbians raped and impregnated and forced to bear
straight children. This is war against you homo perverts!!" - Posted on October 20,
1998 to the Matthew Shepard Online Resources bulletin board
Because we're dishonest:
" 'These people are intellectually dishonest in just about
everything they do or say,' the Congressional Quarterly quoted Helms as saying when asked
about the documentary. He added, 'They start by pretending that it is just another form of
love. It's sickening.' " - Senator Jess Helms, Variety, June 30, 1998.
Because we're liars:
" 'Homosexuality is a decision, it's not a race,' White said.
'People from all different ethnic backgrounds live in this lifestyle. But people from all
different ethnic backgrounds also are liars and cheaters and malicious and back-stabbing.'
" - Reggie White, Associated Press, March 25, 1998.
Because we're pedophiles:
"There is a strong undercurrent of pedophilia in the homosexual
subculture. Homosexual activists want to promote the flouting of traditional sexual
prohibitions at the earliest possible age....they want to encourage a promiscuous society
- and the best place to start is with a young and credulous captive audience in the public
schools." - Family Research Council, http://www.frc.org/insight/is93f1hs.html
Because we're sinners:
"It is [a sin]....You should try to show them a way to deal with
that problem, just like alcohol...or sex addiction...or kleptomaniacs." - Senate
Republican Leader Trent Lott, Associated Press, June 15, 1998.
Because we should be arrested:
"Bob Jones University has a message for gay alumni: Stay away or be
arrested. The Christian fundamentalist school threatened Thursday to arrest all gay
graduates who return to campus. Wayne Mouritzen, a retired minister and Bob Jones
graduate, got a letter banning him from campus because officials discovered he is gay. The
letter, signed by Bob Jones' dean of students, said: 'With grief we must tell you that as
long as you are living as a homosexual, you, of course, would not be welcome on the campus
and would be arrested for trespassing if you did visit.' " - Associated Press,
October 23, 1998.
Because we're going to hell:
"In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, homosexuals are included in a list of
sinners, who, if unrepentant, will not inherit the kingdom of God." - Family Research
Council press release on the day of Matthew's funeral, October 16, 1998.
Religious extremists vilify us. Call us diseased, perverted, immoral,
and abomination. They say on TV and radio that we deserve to lose our jobs, our children,
our families and our homes. They prepare studies for Congress "proving" we are
unfit teachers, parents, ambassadors, and soldiers. They liken us to adulterers,
murderers, kleptomaniacs, and alcoholics. And they accuse us of being anti-family,
anti-Christian, anti-God, and anti-America.
This is not love. It is a blasphemy of Christianity that makes one yearn less to be an
ex-gay than an ex-Christian. It pollutes the word of God, and wrongly tells America that
people of faith are crazy, backward, and bitter. And worst of all, it teaches our young
that to love God one must hate man.
Their hate killed Matt.
But "no," they protest, words don't kill people - people kill people.
"Don't blame AA because a drunk was beat up," said Heather
Farish of the Family Research Council, responding to charges that her organization's
anti-gay rhetoric gives license to anti-gay violence. Dallas Morning News, October 17,
But how do they explain the religiously-justified hatred pervading our
"I was talking to a group of high school students that I teach
about Matthew's death, and what I heard shocked me. Not only did they think he deserved
what he got, but they wanted to go and defend his killers because it was a 'Holy
Killing.'" - email, October 16, 1998.
It is simply not possible to preach the inhumanity of man, then blithely
skulk away when principle meets practice. It is simply not moral to give a child a gun,
then feign ignorance when someone gets hurt.
If words do not inspire actions, then why did they spend $500,000 on an ad campaign to
inspire gays to 'convert'? They know words have consequences, and their words are nothing
less than the subjugation and dehumanization of gay and lesbian Americans. It is no wonder
that decades of disdain eventually led to violence.
"We knew there would be a Matthew Shepard, we just didn't know who
it would be." Wayne Besen of the Human Rights Campaign, The [Bergen Co., N.J.]
Record, October 21, 1998.
Last week a part of us died, but another was reborn. And while we didn't
win the hearts of Congress, we captured the soul of America, and the world. Many of us are
no longer afraid. No longer alone. And no longer complacent in the face of evil. While
angry, sad and dispirited, we finally fought back for one of our own. And it felt good,
Tue Oct 20, 1998 - 6:40PM EDT - HOUSE DOCUMENT
SHOWS REPUBLICANS BRAGGING THEY "STOPPED" HATE CRIMES BILL
For me, October 9 will always be Matt Shepard day.
The day we cast aside our shame.
The day we declared our humanity.
The day we challenged their lies and their hate.
The day we defended our brothers and sisters, and ourselves, publicly and proudly.
And the day we paused to honor an unknown friend, whose soul inspired a revolution he will
So let this be our call to arms. Our call to action. OUR call to reclaim America.
If Matt could survive alone in the cold - bound, beaten and broken - then we can find the
strength to fight on in his name, and put a stop to this nonsense once and for all.
For Immediate Release
Oct 20, 1998 - 6:25PM EDT
Contact: John Aravosis, 202/328-5707, email@example.com
HOUSE REPUBLICANS BRAG THEY KILLED HATE CRIMES BILL
Contradict Sen. Lott's claim that bill would die because of no time
Washington, DC - In a document just obtained by Wired Strategies, the House Republican
Conference (an arm of the US House of Representatives Republican leadership) is taking
credit for having "stopped" the hate crimes bill. The House leadership document
contradicts claims from Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's staff that the Hate Crimes
Protection Act would not pass because Congress had run out of time.
Millions of Americans, and citizens of the world, reacted in shock, sadness and anger at
the recent torture and death of 21-year-old college freshman Matthew Shepard. Shepard was
abducted, pistol-whipped, strung up as though crucified, and then left to die for 18 hours
on a cold Wyoming road two weeks ago.
In a spontaneous show of anger and support, nearly 100 vigils have taken place around the
US and Canada to honor Shepard, highlight the menace of hate crimes, and demand that
Congress immediately pass hate crimes legislation. Concerned individuals across the US and
from as far as Zimbabwe, Australia, and Russia sent emails to the United States Congress,
the Wyoming Governor, and Web sites devoted to Matthew Shepard's memory, expressing their
concern about the Shepard case, and the need to pass hate crimes legislation. In addition,
Americans nationwide, and in countries as far as Hong Kong, telephoned US members of
Congress over the last several days to demand passage of the bill.
The House document attacks the hate crimes bill as being a part of "the President's
big-government agenda," and calls the death of the legislation "a win for
conservative priorities." Under a section entitled "Reinventing Big-government
-- Presidential Priorities the Congress Stopped", the House leadership lists:
"'Hate crime' proposals that criminalize motive rather than punish violent
In a phone call this past Friday, Senator Lott's staff told a supporter that the
legislation would die because it was simply too late to bring it up this year - the
staffer gave no indication of the partisan strategy that now seems to be the reason for
the bill's death. The decision to kill the legislation came on the heels of a new Time/CNN
poll released last Saturday finding that 75% of Americans think the problem of violence
against homosexuals is serious across the country.
"The House leadership has dishonored the memory of Matthew Shepard for partisan
political gain," said John Aravosis, an Internet consultant who has been maintaining
a Web site about the Shepard case . "It's incredible that House Republicans would
brag about killing a bill that protects the disabled, women and gay people from being
brutalized by hate," he added.
"Hate is not a family value, but it seems to be a conservative one," continued
Aravosis. "This wasn't a partisan issue, it was about the savage murder of a kid that
shocked millions of Americans, both Republicans and Democrats," Aravosis added,
"Is that all Matt's death meant to Gingrich - a chance to slam the President? Is he
that out of touch?"
The House Republican Conference document can be found on the Internet at: http://188.8.131.52/IssueFocus/TalkingPoints/TPMain/score.htm.
Tue Oct 20, 1998 - 1:15PM EDT - ENOUGH IS
ENOUGH: CONGRESS STILL IN SESSION - ADDING PORK, IGNORING MATTHEW
Folks, I have bad news - they lied to us.
According to even more press reports (see the most recent article below), the House and
Senate continue to add their own pork projects to the budget bill, even though they told a
large number of you who called in the last few days that "it's too late" to add
the hate crimes bill to the budget. The bottom line folks, they're pulling a fast one on
us - or in laymen's terms, they lied to get you off their backs. In terms of timing, the
House will vote on the bill at 5:30PM EDT today (Tuesday), and the Senate will vote
tomorrow. In the Senate, the actual Senators will be present for the vote (the House
members probably won't returnt to DC).
Examples of special interest pork added to the budget bill at the last minute (source:
_$250,000 to an Illinois firm to research caffeinated chewing gum.
_$750,000 for grasshopper research in Alaska.
_$1 million for ``peanut quality'' research in Georgia.
_$12.5 million more for the District of Columbia than it requested.
_$90 million to give six Blackhawk helicopters to the Colombian National Police for
_$11 million to help rebuild a 40-year-old terminal at the Wilkes-Barre-Scranton
International Airport, sought by Rep. Bud Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the Transportation
and Infrastructure Committee.
There have easily been 100 vigils across the country to demand justice for Matthew, and
passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA). And the one last night in NYC was
attended by 5,000, and then was brutally broken up by the police on horseback (arresting
nearly 100 people). We are sad, we are angry, and we will not tolerate being played a
fool. The congressional leadership has calculated that this election is about motivating
the religious right to vote, and anything that protects the lives of the "fags",
the women, and the disabled won't fly with the "family values" crowd, since they
only value their own families.
So what can you do? At this point, time is running out. I won't lie to you. But I think
that in view of the fact that they've lied to us - they've told us repeatedly that there
just wasn't time to bring the hate crimes bill up for a debate, and that the budget
agreement was already complete and nothing could be added to it - it's worth our taking a
stand and letting Congress know that we will not be taken for fools.
I recommend everyone call your two Senators office TODAY AND TOMORROW (Tuesday and
Wednesday) - call the Congressional switchboard at 202/224-3121 and ask who the Senators
are from your state, then ask to be connected to them. When the office answers, demand to
talk to the Senator, then if you can't, demand to talk to the "chief of
staff/adminstrative assistant" (their top aide), then next down the line is the
"legislative director." These are the folks who pull the strings, don't let them
give you some lowly staffer, we're beyond that now.
We're also, I think, beyond being nice. Don't be completely rude or obnoxious, because
that never helps, but I also believe - having worked as a lawyer in the Senate for 5 years
- that the only thing that can help now is a populist uprising of anger and disgust. They
need to know that you are quite upset, will not take "no" for an answer, and
plan to raise hell back home if they don't intervene and include HCPA in the budget.
1) Call your Senators, ask for the chief of staff, then the legislative director, and
raise hell - and let them know you know about the pork, and the fact that they can help on
this bill if they so choose.
2) Call 5-10 friends and get them to call as well. As few as 40-50 calls into one office
really does start to rattle them.
3) Your message: I'm mad as hell that Congress is misrepresenting what it can do on the
Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) while passing pork left and right (caffeinated chewing
gum!)- and I expect my Senator to either include the hate crimes bill in the budget, or to
vote against the budget bill on Wednesday (for the Senate) until HCPA is included.
Quick note: there is already a hate crimes law on the books, but it doesn't yet include
sexual orientation, gender or disability - HCPA would amend the law to include those
categories. So, this isn't a "new" law, it's simply a recognition that women and
people with disabilities, along with gays, deserve to be protected from hate-bashings.
Pretty radical concept.
Now read about the pork first-hand:
Friday October 16 11:17 PM EDT
Budget Vote Delayed Until Next Week
By DARLENE SUPERVILLE Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A new tunnel in Boston, a tax break for oil products importers, a longer
duck-hunting season in Mississippi _ as usual, there's plenty of legislative pork in the
$500 billion budget deal reached by the White House and congressional Republicans.
Congress votes on the colossal bill Tuesday, then goes home for two hasty weeks of
campaigning before the Nov. 3 elections, armed with bragging rights about the bacon
they're bringing to their districts. On Friday, Congress passed a resolution keeping the
government operating through Tuesday.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., said Friday the agreement was the best ``you could get
when you have a conservative Republican Congress and a liberal Democratic president.''
Mississippi duck hunters will get an extended season, thanks to Senate Majority Leader
Trent Lott, R-Miss., who won a long-running dispute with the Interior Department. Lott
said he resorted to legislation after the department reneged on an agreement to extend the
season after the Senate confirmed a new assistant secretary.
Questioned about the provision at a news conference Thursday, Lott stressed that hunters
won't get a single dollar _ just more ducks to kill.
``It allows them to have ducks to hunt,'' he replied.
``It's true. It does,'' added Gingrich.
``You've got to hunt where the ducks are. That's what this would do,'' continued Lott.
``No funding involved. Just an opportunity to hunt ducks.''
But while Lott got more ducks, Gingrich was losing an effort to help important
constituents _ peanut farmers seeking to overturn a Transportation Department order
barring allergy-inducing peanuts from domestic flights where a passenger has a medically
documented peanut allergy.
Standing in the way is Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., chairman of the House Appropriations
transportation subcommittee, who is sensitive to the issue: He's allergic to crabs.
``This has reached the highest level of the food chain,'' said Rob Leebern, chief of staff
for Rep. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., who was pushing with Gingrich and other top GOP leaders
to add to the catchall spending bill legislation overturning the order.
Some loose ends and disagreements remained Friday over specifics of the deal clinched
Thursday, including a dispute over how to distribute $6 billion in emergency aid to
House and Senate negotiators and staff met all day to translate the agreement into
legislation that's likely to exceed 3,000 pages and stand more than a foot tall. As the
drafting proceeded, some lawmakers launched 11th-hour bids to get pet projects into the
Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., said he was pushing to get limited access through protected
federal lands to a historic mansion on Cumberland Island, Ga. In exchange, the government
would spend $11.9 million to buy more land for the affected federal preserve.
But most such projects were part of Thursday's agreement.
Massachusetts, currently digging an $11.6 billion tunnel under Boston, will get $100
million for surface transportation projects _ thanks to old-fashioned politics.
On learning the state would lose substantially under June's transportation funding law,
Sens. John Kerry and Edward Kennedy and Rep. Jim McGovern, all Massachusetts Democrats,
sought to make up the loss.
Kerry got Lott, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and top Senate Environment and
Public Works Committee members to promise to find $100 million for the state.
A planned separate bill ran into trouble, so lawmakers aimed for the end-of-year spending
``Promises made are promises kept,'' Kerry said.
Companies that import petroleum products, turn them into new commodities and export them
also benefit. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer, R-Texas, won changes
that make it easier for these companies to get refunds of U.S. import duties paid,
estimated at $4 million a year.
Home health care agencies affected by Medicare changes also will share $1.7 billion over
five years under the bill, paid for in part by letting winners of gambling jackpots
collect their prizes in a lump sum instead of over many years.
But it appeared that an effort by Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla., to provide $100,000 in grants
to hemophiliacs who contracted AIDS from blood transfusions in the 1980s was out of the
bill. His southwest Florida district was home to Ricky Ray, a hemophiliac teen-ager who
died after a transfusion. Many victims have died or are near death and have become poor
because of failing health and sizable medical bills.
``It was looking real good (Thursday) but it's not looking real good today,'' Goss
spokeswoman Jennifer Miller Wise said Friday. ``We're still working at it.''
Among other ``special projects'' in the bill, according to congressional sources:
_$250,000 to an Illinois firm to research caffeinated chewing gum.
_$750,000 for grasshopper research in Alaska.
_$1 million for ``peanut quality'' research in Georgia.
_$12.5 million more for the District of Columbia than it requested.
_$90 million to give six Blackhawk helicopters to the Colombian National Police for
_$11 million to help rebuild a 40-year-old terminal at the Wilkes-Barre-Scranton
International Airport, sought by Rep. Bud Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the Transportation
and Infrastructure Committee.
Tue Oct 20, 1998 - 1AM EDT - CONGRESS STILL ADDING
PORK TO BUDGET BILL, BUT CAN'T ADD HATE CRIMES BECAUSE IT'S "TOO LATE"?
John's Commentary: You'll note from this article that Congress is STILL adding
extraneous legislation to the Budget Bill, even at this late hour - AND that the bill is
now being loaded with pork. Remember when I said that they weren't telling the truth by
saying that it was "too late" to add anything to the bill. It's only too late to
add anything that actually helps people, particularly innocent murder victims. But for
pork and special interests, there's always time. And they're not evening voting on the
pork, they're just jamming it in the bill. Read this story just in:
Congress Likely To Pass Budget Bill
The Associated Press
By ALAN FRAM
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Lawmakers struggled to win last-minute changes in a huge $500 billion
spending measure or to find out precisely what was in it as Congress prepared for its
likely passage this week.
White House officials and congressional leaders agreed to the package last Thursday after
a week of bargaining. But lawmakers spent Monday resolving lingering disputes over
extending some tariffs and buttressing the Medicare home health-care program, Many members
of Congress and aides professed ignorance about a measure that some officials said would
number about 4,000 pages.
``The first thing I want to do is find out everything that's in it,'' said Rep. Michael
Ironically, the mammoth bill includes provisions dealing with the government's Paperwork
Only a few copies of the bill were available Monday, and none were provided for the
public. But a person familiar with the legislation, speaking on condition of anonymity,
said the measure contained several late additions, including:
Language by Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y., requiring health insurers to cover breast
reconstruction after mastectomies;
2 million to help start the Robert J. Dole Institute for Public Service and Public Policy
at the University of Kansas, honoring the former senator and Republican presidential
candidate; and 1.1 million for a nautical exhibit at Chicago's Museum of Science.
There was little suspense about the ultimate outcome: The House was expected to approve
the measure Tuesday, and the Senate planned to ship it to President Clinton for his
signature on Wednesday. To allow time, Congress planned to send Clinton a measure letting
agencies stay open through Wednesday, the fifth such stopgap bill since fiscal 1999 began
Even the likeliest pocket of opposition -- conservative House Republicans -- was said to
be split over a bill that gave that group victories such as restrictions on Internet
pornography, but defeats such as $20 billion in so- called emergency spending to be paid
for out of expected federal surpluses.
``It's definitely a mixed bag,'' said Marty Dannenfelser, government relations director
for the conservative Family Research Council.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., had hoped his chamber would approve the
measure by voice vote. That would make it unnecessary for senators -- most of whom left
Washington a week ago -- to return to the Capitol, since its passage would mark the end of
Congress' legislative work for the year, except for a few smaller bills.
Lott also hoped to avoid a roll call vote that would reveal GOP splits, including
divisions within his own leadership team, said some Republican aides who spoke on
condition of anonymity.
But a roll call was planned after Sen. Rod Grams, R-Minn., and several other senators
requested one, calling it ``irresponsible legislating'' for the bill to become law without
a tally showing each lawmaker's vote.
The bill controls about one-third of the $1.7 trillion federal budget for fiscal 1999. It
covers 10 Cabinet-level departments, including Education and Interior, plus many smaller
agencies, foreign aid and the District of Columbia's budget.
But the package is far more than just a spending bill. The must-pass measure is loaded
with projects for lawmakers' home districts, tax breaks for some businesses and families,
and changes in anti-drug laws and other programs.
The White House and lawmakers on Monday resolved an 11th-hour hang-up over a bipartisan
plan to pump $1.7 billion into Medicare home health-care providers, whose federal payments
were cut by last year's budget-balancing law.
To help raise the money, lawmakers planned to let more higher-income couples convert
existing Individual Retirement Accounts to Roth IRAs, which would cause them to pay taxes
now. But many Democrats objected, arguing that would give some rich families a long-term
tax break, so that item was dropped Monday.
Instead, Congress would finance the home-health provision by letting more lottery winners
and gamblers receive their prizes in a lump sum, which would raise cash for the Treasury.
Also causing delays were negotiations over import tariffs. House Ways and Means Committee
Chairman Bill Archer, R-Texas, was insisting on making it easier for importers of some
foreign petroleum products to collect a federal refund for tariffs they pay.
But Senate Finance Committee Chairman William Roth, R-Del., and other senators wanted the
bill to address other tariff questions as well, including the treatment of some imported
The bill also contains provisions:
Implementing the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, which calls for the destruction of
chemical weapons stockpiles and the monitoring of companies making potential components.
The language would authorize inspections at U.S. chemical companies.
Moving the Arms Control Disarmament Agency and the U.S. Information Agency into the State
Department next year.
Mon Oct 19, 1998 - 10:40PM EDT - FEEDBACK: "I
could help by coming out!"
Date: Mon, 19 Oct 1998 18:59:17 EDT
Subject: My way of helping
Thank you for the wonderful web-page you have created. It has helped more than you know.
Allow me to explain. I live in [DELETED BY JOHN] where hate is no stranger, yet I was
desperate to find a way to do something in the aftermath of Matt's death. I could think of
nothing. Until it hit me while reading your website...I could help by coming out!
Until every gay citizen is out of the closet, we will be considered a dark and hidden
society of perverts. Coming out helps to put a face with the word "gay", and
those who might think that homosexuals are deviants could be educated otherwise by
realizing that people they love are also gay. By coming out to my family I could look them
straight in the eye and say "Am I the evil "thing" you associate with being
gay? No I am not...and Matthew Shepard could very well have been been me! Is that what you
would like to see?" So I decided THAT would be my gift to Matthew, and as it turned
out it was also my gift to myself.
I told my family on Saturday, and by Sunday morning everyone I told became as outraged
over the senseless beating and death as I was. I regret not having done it sooner, but
thanks to Matthew I can now live an open life with no secrets in sight. I am now urging
everyone I know to do the same.
John, as you said yourself...I will NOT be silent, I will NOT forget, Matthew deserves NO
Mon Oct 19, 1998 - 4:30PM EDT - FEEDBACK: "YOU
DON'T NEED TO BE GAY TO BE THE VICTIM OF A HATE CRIME."
This is an email I just received from a good friend in Boston. The names have been
changed to protect him and his friends - all straight - from further violence.
To: "John Aravosis" firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking at the site last night and over the last few days brought back some terrible
memories. You may recall my little gay-bash incident -- proving that you don't need to be
gay to be the victim of a hate crime. Have I ever told you the story?
Back in 1994 when I lived in South Boston -- you know, "Southie," setting for
Good Will Hunting, etc. -- I was often told about the intolerance of the people there. But
of course, I decided to give the town the benefit of the doubt.
I was a little shocked when I went to look at my apartment for the first time -- the
current resident was a single mom who smoked cigarettes continually. When I first saw her
she was wearing a t-shirt that read "Eighty Years Without the Queers -- St. Patrick's
Day Parade, South Boston." It might have read ninety years, I don't remember the
number. But then I thought, "well, this is the woman that's moving OUT, so I won't
have to deal with her."
Boy, was I in for a rude awakening. The people in my building were very nice -- all family
people that when you spoke with them privately, they all held beliefs that were
contradictory to the perceived Southie status quo. It made me feel good that the
perception wasn't the reality all the time.
Then one night I went to a bar with my room mate Peter (five foot six, dark features, 125
lbs) and my old college friend Doug (pasty, skinny white boy, five foot 10, 140lbs). I was
wearing khakis, a blue denim shirt, and a colorful vest, and I think saddle shoes. I guess
I looked kinda swooshy, huh? Peter was similarly dressed, and Doug, a prepster from the
high-rent suburb of Weston, looked like he was getting ready for mixed doubles. Looking
back now, in Southie, we looked so stereotypically gay it was RIDICULOUS.
That night at the bar we just kinda kept to ourselves because we hadn't seen Doug in a
while and wanted to catch up. I even remember turning down a girl who asked me back to her
place (she was cute, but she smoked like a fiend and there was this big Marine hitting on
her all night). Strike two.
We left the bar early that night -- around midnight. When we got about four blocks from
our house, all hell broke loose.
Coming toward us were about ten young Southie natives. Without saying a word, one of them
threw a HAYMAKER of a punch -- an overhand right -- into Peter's face. he was out cold on
contact. A couple people grabbed Doug, pulled him down, and started punching him in the
face. They took some swings at me, but only one landed flush -- in the back of my head.
Within a minute it was over, with all the punks walking off laughing. Neighbors heard the
noise outside and came down. One called an ambulance which came in a few minutes. The cops
were also called, but never arrived on the scene -- they came to the hospital instead.
I picked up Peter off the ground and he kept asking me, "Mike, what just happened?
Why?" Doug was laying down in the street and eventually came to and walked over to
We got to the hospital where Peter learned that his cheek and his eye socket had been
broken, and he had significant nerve damage in his cheek and lip. His eyesight was the
immediate concern, and he was kept in the hospital for hours. He still has limited feeling
in his lip, and it tends to droop. His left cheek now sinks in slightly. Doug had several
stitches over his eye, and I got through with the least damage -- a nice bruise on the
back of my head, and perhaps a slight concussion. Of course, at 165 pounds, I was the
biggest, and cowards like those punks hit the smallest of us first.
I remember I had to call Peter's parents to let them know what happened at 3am. I remember
Peter's mother waking from sleep, and I could tell that she was prepared for the worst as
soon as the phone rang and she heard my voice. I started by saying, "Mary, the first
thing you need to know is your son is going to be all right." Somehow, I don't think
that helped very much. I then told her the details as best I could. Peter's parents came
My parents were vacationing in -- of all places -- Provincetown. They couldn't come that
The blood that dripped from Peter's face was still visible in the form of a dark stain on
the ground where he fell for literally months after the attack. He stayed for a week at
his folks' house in Winthrop and I actually went to P-town for a weekend. I bought a
hammock, figuring I would be in it quite a bit, contemplating what had happened.
The folks in my building were shocked. We had lived in Southie long enough, according to
them, that most people knew who we were and that we were "OK." The guy even
called in a "shout-out" of sorts to the local newspaper (you can leave an
anonymous message and they will print it in the paper) condemning the cowardly attack.
I remember being interviewed by a police officer in the hospital, who told me that since
it was so dark and we had a few beers, we would be unable to make a positive ID on the
attackers and that there would be nothing more the police could do.
Ah, but this was Southie, I thought. Everyone knows everyone else. I called a southie
friend of my family's (his dad and brother were cops from southie -- if anyone could help
us, he could). The first thing he told me was to drop it. Yeah, he heard about the attack,
and he had a pretty good idea who did it. But he told me that we shouldn't pursue it
because there would be "retribution."
You know, don't rock the boat. Boys will be boys. And what were we, three outsiders,
walking down THEIR street late at night, anyway?
A few days later, one of the people in our building had learned something. The kids that
attacked us thought we were gay. And one of the kids' fathers was a cop. But since we
didn't appear to be pursuing the issue, and now they knew we weren't gay, we probably
weren't going to be attacked again. I heard basically the same info from a woman I worked
with later that week. She was a life-long southie resident.
Peter came back to the apartment and we began talking about moving out. Then a few weeks
later the hate march came.
You probably remember the whole St.Patrick's Day Parade issue in Southie. In 1992 the
Supreme Court ordered Wacko Hurley (yes, that 's what he's really called) and the rest of
the parade organizers to allow a gay & lesbian Irish group to march in the parade. In
1993, I believe they canceled the parade in order to prevent the g&l group from
marching in their town. In 1994, they were ready for the challenge.
1994's parade was not a St. Patrick's day parade -- but actually a protest march opposing
outsider interference -- namely, the gay & lesbian Irish group. Having the g&l
group march would be contradictory to the entire purpose of the parade, and they were
ready to cancel it. The Courts agreed -- southie could have its little hate march without
Of course, the thing goes right by my FUCKING house. Civic leaders, local veterans, and
even Boston City Councillors wore black armbands in protest of gay participation in their
past parades and walked right by me, smiling all the way. There were still some
St.Patrick's Day things around, but the folks knew they had to keep things somber and
black if they wanted to march at all.
God, I wanted a rainbow flag so bad that day. I was gonna put it in my window. Funny thing
was, nobody would have known what it was for.
So that did it. Peter and I moved out of a 4-bedroom apartment (we each paid $400 per
month) and into a HUGE house in the People's Republic of Brookline with two other guys.
Our rent almost doubled. Our commutes got longer. The food in Brookline SUCKS. Our
landlord was a basket case.
But at least we were away from the hatemongers.
Mon Oct 19, 1998 - 3:00PM EDT - FEEDBACK: MATTHEW HAS
TRULY CHANGED LIVES
Date: Mon, 19 Oct 1998 11:34:55 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Making a difference
I'm a 24 year-old male coping with being gay in a conservative southern city. I am writing
you because ever since hearing of the events in Wyoming and the resultant death of Matthew
Shepard, I have had this burning drive to somehow make a difference. I came out to my
mother this past Saturday, and, to my amazement, it was fairly smooth. This is only the
first step, however; I am now determined to make a difference for the BETTER for the gay
John's commentary: How many of us can only wish that our life has in some way touched
Mon Oct 19, 1998 - 11:15AM EDT - FEEDBACK: CHILDREN
DEFEND "HOLY KILLING" OF SHEPARD
Subject: (no subject)
To whom this concerns:
Hello. With the recent death of Matthew Shepard, the ugly side of the Christian church has
shown its face. I am not writing this letter to debate the moral implications of
homosexuality, it is illreleavant. I just want to write to tell you that people like Rev.
Phelps do not represent the Christian church, or at least my church. GOd loves everyone,
regardless. The religious extremists embarrass me as a Christian, and sicken me.
I was talking to a group of high school students that I teach about Matthew's death, and
what I heard shocked me. Not only did they think he deserved what he got, but they wanted
to go and defend his killers because it was a "Holy Killing". THis sickens me
more. I feel for the family of Matthew, and pray for them in their grief.
John of Wired Strategy's commentary: And militant fundamentalists tell us that their
anti-gay words, in the name of God, have no consequences.
Mon Oct 19, 1998 - 9:50AM EDT - FEEDBACK: THE CALLS ARE COMING IN!
To: "John Aravosis"
Subject: Re: Please call Congress one last time....
Date: Mon, 19 Oct 1998 18:58:31 +0800
Add Hong Kong to that concerned list. I spent the weekend writing to every member of the
senate and demanding their support. I also called (from Hong Kong) Senators from
California (my home state), Colorado, Illinois, Washington, Montana, Utah-all states that
I have connections, and demanded their support. Finally I wrote to Newt and Trent and
demanded their support. If I can do it from Hong Kong, I would hope others would do it
from their community.
Let's hope this passes today.
Mon Oct 19, 1998 - 6:30AM EDT - CALL CONGRESS TODAY!
Congress is nearly finished - in one day we'll know whether your representative
will honor, or defile, the memory of an innocent young man murdered like an animal. The
country, and the world, is watching. Will Congress do the right thing?
Today (Monday) is our last day to act. We flooded Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott with calls
on Friday, and now it's time to do it one more time. Here's how you can help:
1) Call Gingrich and Lott on Monday - repeatedly - and tell them (strongly but politely)
that you will be voting in November, and you expect them to pass the Hate Crimes
Prevention Act (HR3081 and S1529) before they adjourn;
* Lott's phone numbers:
DC -(202) 224-3135, and (202) 224-6253
MISSISSIPPI - Jackson (601) 965-4644; Greenwood (601) 453-5681; Gulfport (228) 863-1988;
Pascagoula (228) 762-5400; Oxford (601) 234-3774.
* Gingrich's phone numbers:
DC - (202) 225-0600, and (202) 225-4501
GEORGIA - (770) 565-6398
* If you know anyone in Mississippi (for Lott) or Georgia (for Gingrich), call them now.
2) Call your US Senators and Representatives in Washington and at home - US Congress
switchboard (202) 224-3121 (ask for your representative) - and tell them (strongly but
politely) that you will be voting in November, that you're mad as hell, that you expect
them to tell Lott and Gingrich to pass the bill before Congress adjourns.
* To find out who your Senators are, click here.
* To find out who your House Member is, click
3) Email and call all your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers, and ask them to do
The bottom line: Congress can pass the hate crimes bill if they choose to. I worked in the
Senate as an attorney for 5 years, and if Lott and Gingrich want, they can insert the Hate
Crimes bill in the budget and have it passed in a snap. Don't believe their lies about it
being too late. Don't believe their lies about having passed a do-nothing
"resolution," which simply states Congress' "concern" about Matthew's
death (big deal).
Is it possible that Congress is so out of touch with the people, so bent on playing
partisan politics and so hungry for scandal, that they are the only ones not touched by
Matthew's death? I don't mean to be so emotional, but it sickens me that the entire world
has shed tears over this kid's death - I've received pained emotional emails from Africa,
Australia, Europe, and Russia - yet the only ones who don't give a damn are the people who
think we will re-elect them in two short weeks. If the politicians in Washington can't act
in the face of such a horrible, untimely, and senseless death, I for one have no intention
of sending them back this November.
But we still have one more day. They have one more day.
Act now! Call your friends, call your family, call your co-workers, and most important of
all, call Congress - like your life depended on it. Because, my friends, it does.
here to read about the nationwide explosion of vigils demanding that Congress pass
hate crimes laws. I've already tracked 71!)
Sun Oct 18, 1998 - 8:15PM EDT - MOVING FEEDBACK FROM
To: "'John Aravosis'" email@example.com
Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 17:09:14 +0200
Thank you John,
I am thousands of miles away here in Zimbabwe. But I feel so deeply that I cannot put this
Of course us gays here are totally taboo, but one day we too shall win.
It is my fervent belief that God has a special place for us, and indeed a special purpose.
Thank you my friend,
Sun Oct 18, 1998 - 6:45PM EDT - BIOGRAPHY & POEM
FROM MATT'S FUNERAL
The following feedback came to me from someone who went to Matthew's funeral. It is
the text from a commemorative leaflet given out to those who attended the service, and
includes Matt's biography and a poem written about him by his cousin:
"Matthew Wayne Shepard, 21 of Laramie and Casper, Wyoming died early Monday, October
12, 1998 at Poudre Valley Hospital, Ft. Collins, Colorado of injuries sustained in an
attack in Laramie. Memorial services will be held at 1:30pm Friday, October 16, 1998 at
St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Casper. The Reverend Royce Brown will officiate.
Matthew was born December 1, 1976 in Casper, Wyoming. He is the older son of Judy Peck
Shepard and Dennis Shepard. While living in Casper, he attended Crest Hill Grade School,
Dean Morgan Junior High School and completed his sophomore year at Natrona County High
School. He was a member and an acolyte in St. Mark's Episcopal Church. His last two years
of high school at the American School in Switzerland (TASIS) in Lugano, Switzerland where
he graduated in 1995. While at TASIS, he traveled extensively throughout Europe.
He is survived by his parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard of Casper, Wyoming and Dhahran,
Saudi Arabia; one brother, Logan; his maternal grandparents, Francis and Vera Peck, his
paternal grandparents, Harry and Ruth Shepard; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins on
both sides of his family.
In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to the Matthew W. Shepard
Memorial Fund, c/o First National Bank, Account #1926083, P.O. Box 578, Ft. Collins,
It also contained the words to a poem written by Matthew's cousin:
An angel with new wings
In a place a world away
Can once again begin to sing
God took him in his arms today
He blessed his soul with loving care
And took away his pain
His life story all would share
His memory on their hearts a stain
So young a heart destroyed
For a cause unforgotten
Another's mind deployed
The result of a tragedy rotten
The tragic hero that's hard to find
A martyr with great courage
God's lamb in rare design
Never to be discouraged
Our love for him forever strong
His image will never fade
We'll meet him again before long
Temporary goodbyes we now must bade
Matty, I love you with all my heart
I wish you only know how much
You'll be happier with this brand new start
The world's hearts you have now touched
Sun Oct 18, 1998 - 2:40PM EDT - EX-GAYS ATTEND DC
VIGIL FOR MATTHEW
Three participants at the DC vigil approached me at the end of the event, holding a
copy of the virulently anti-gay "Lambda Report". The Lambda Report is a monthly
"news magazine" that writes about topics such as how gays were the real brains
behind the Holocaust (they really wrote about this). Well, the three vigil participants
were holding a copy of the Lambda Report and told me that they had just received it from
Peter LaBarbera, who is the editor, and also the head of Americans for the Truth About
Homosexuality. But they told me there was more: LaBarbera was reportedly at the vigil in
the company of a supposed "ex-homosexual."
According to the witnesses, LaBarbera, accompanied by the young ex-gay, was overheard
saying to a reporter in attendance: "Can we talk to you? We're from the other side of
the issue and my friend here is a reformed gay." Now, if this account is true - there
were three witnesses mind you, and they were holding a copy of LaBarbera's magazine - it's
not clear what "other side" he'd be referring to, since 10,000 people were
assembled to honor the life of a young man savagely slain in his prime. Not to mention,
the idea of using Matt's vigil as an opportunity to push the "ex-gay" agenda is
quite shocking, but perhaps not surprising. Was the idea that had Matt been an ex-gay we
wouldn't have needed the vigil?
They tell us again and again that theirs is a message of love....and Brutus is an
Sun Oct 18, 1998 - 7:00AM EDT - THE SUNDAY PAPERS
Post - "Brutal slaying focuses the nation on violence against gays"
York Times - "The Hate Epidemic"
York Times - "Hate Crimes Don't Matter, Except When They Do"
Press - "Class tensions fill town where gay student was killed"
Service - "Residents of Casper reflect on death of Shepard, issue of
Salt Lake Tribune
- "Principled Reaction"
Journal-Constitution - "Gay killing renews penalty debate"
Post-Gazette - "Service honors Wyo. victim"
- "Hundreds attend CMU vigil"
Modesto Bee -
"Modesto pays respects with an anti-hate vigil"
MSNBC - "New Yorkers
support hate crimes act"
Globe - "Victor town clerk gets anti-gay note"
Sun Oct 18, 1998 - 12:03AM EDT - EMAIL FEEDBACK
REGARDING CONGRESS' DISPOSITION OF THE HATE CRIMES PREVENTION ACT
Email I received:
Date: Sat, 17 Oct 1998 22:49:30 -0400
Subject: outcomes of the HCPA (Hate Crimes Prevention Act)
Would you be willing to post a web page or send me an email detailing which
representatives and senators voted which way?
If if goes down, I would like to know if people I have the power to elect brought it down
Thousands of you have joined my mailing list in only a few days, and over 400,000 have
visited the Web site. If Congress kills HCPA, I promise you'll be hearing from us.
Sat Oct 17, 1998 - 5:50PM EDT - 75% OF AMERICANS
THINK ANTI-GAY VIOLENCE IS A SERIOUS NATIONAL PROBLEM, NEW POLL SAYS
According to a Time/CNN poll released today, most Americans believe the attack that
killed Matthew Shepard could happen in their communities. The Time/CNN poll found that
three-quarters of the 1,036 adults questioned think the problem of violence against
homosexuals is serious across the country. According to the survey conducted by telephone
on Tuesday and Wednesday, 68 percent of those polled say a similar attack could happen in
their community. 82 percent believe the government should treat homosexuals and
heterosexuals as equals.
If the Republican leadership in Congress cared about the will of the people, and the
untimely death of an innocent young American, they'd pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act
on Monday. They still have time to do it. They certainly have the power to do it. But do
they have the heart, the soul, the will, or the courage to honor Matthew's memory?
The American people are watching, and looking for leadership. Stay tuned.
Sat Oct 17, 1998 - 4:40PM EDT - IMPORTANT INFORMATION
"Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living."
"Don't just mourn -- ORGANIZE"
- Mother Jones
This is John from Wired Strategies, this message is for everyone planning a vigil to honor
Matthew, particularly those vigils taking place this weekend or Monday.
Perhaps the best way to pay tribute to Matthew is not just to remember him -- but to take
action to help prevent this type of senseless violence from happening again by making a
"call to action" part of your ucpoming vigil.
Please call on Congress to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HR3081 and S1529) before
they adjourn on Tuesday evening. Here's how.
1). Have a speaker at the vigil let participants know that there is a federal bill pending
in Congress that would add sexual orientation (gender and disability) to the federal
anti-hate crime law that now defines a hate crime as dealing only with race, religion, and
national origin. Both Democrats and Republicans support the Hate Crimes bill, butt the
Republican leadership (Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator Trent Lott) is refusing to move
2). Ask participants to do 3 things:
-- call Lott and Gingrich on Monday and tell them to pass the bill before they adjourn;
* Lott's phone numbers: (202) 224-3135, and (202) 224-6253
* Gingrich's phone numbers: (202) 225-0600, and (202) 225-4501
-- call your US Senators and Representatives - or find them at home this weekend, they
should be back in their states - and tell them (strongly) to tell Lott and Gingrich to
pass the bill before they adjourn; and
-- ask friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, etc. to do the same.
3). Pass out leaflets calling for action step #2 (with appropriate phone numbers) at the
vigil, at church, at work, at school, and otherwise; you can get already prepared
electronic copies of those leaflets and posters (that you'll need to have printed) at the
HRC Web site http://www.hrc.org/shepard/action/index.html.
4). Call you local newspaper reporters who have been covering this story and make sure
they attend the vigil, and push them to report the importance of Congress taking action on
the hate crimes bill before they adjourn.
5). If you can, try to have your vigil this weekend, so we can hopefully get some press
and influence Congress on Monday.
6). If you're not currently planning on having a vigil, why not consider organizing one
with a few friends?
CONCLUSION: We got a ton of phone calls into Lott's and Gingrich's offices on Friday, and
from the feedback we've received, the calls were definitely blocking their phone lines,
and they were none too pleased! But beware - their offices are trying to trick people who
are calling - telling them that they already passed legislation to deal with Matthew's
case, or telling people that the hate crimes bill is already dead. Here's the truth: what
they passed already was a "resolution" that simply said they felt bad that
Matthew died - big deal. And as for the hate crimes bill being dead - it's not dead, they
haven't even allowed it to come up for a vote yet, but with a snap of their fingers, Lott
and Gingrich could put the bill in the budget package and it would be a done deal. I used
to work in the Senate, it's really that easy, if they have the will.
Our job, and I hope you agree, is to not let these guys get away with brushing our
concerns aside. Matthew is gone, and the leadership in Congress would prefer that we go
away as well. I for one have no intention of walking away from this fight. The election is
only 3 weeks away. The entire country is outraged over Matthew's violent death. It's about
time Congress learned to focus on issues that actually matter to the people. Because if
they don't act now, perhaps we should make sure they won't be there after November.
Give em hell, and thanks as always for everything you're doing to honor Matthew's memory.
PS If you're having a vigil, could you email me back at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know
how big of an event this is expected to be, and whether you think you can include the
federal hate crimes issue in your event? We'd like to inform the national media about
these vigils. Thanks!
Sat Oct 17, 1998 - 8:40AM EDT - FUNERAL COVERAGE IN
Post - "Hundreds Gather to Remember Slain Man as `Light to the World'"
Times - "Shepard's Killing Lamented at Funeral and Across Nation"
- "Gay Wyoming Student Laid To Rest"
Dallas Morning News
- "Why now?"
National Public Radio -
"Funeral Services for Gay Student" (audio story)
New York Post - "Tears for a
Gay, 'Trusting' Soul"
Rocky Mountain News -
"A day of mourning for Shepard"
Lancaster Intelligencer Journal
- "In response to gay man's death, Wyoming slaying prompts local vigil"
Capital-Journal - "Graves says Phelps an 'embarrassment' to image of
Salt Lake Tribune -
"Funeral Draws Family, Friends and Protesters"
The Hartford Courant
- "Raising the Demand for Awareness"
The Providence Journal
- "'We must not be afraid and we must not run away'"
- "Americans mourn gay hate crime victim"
Interesting stories from previous days:
Francisco Chronicle - "Tell the Religious Right How It Should Be" (Oct.
Denver Post - "Wyo.
cyclist recalls tragic discovery"(this article is from Oct. 15, but just found it -
it's about the guy who found Matt alongside the road, he believes God led him to Matt).
Sat Oct 17, 1998 - 12:45AM EDT - ON DAY OF MATTHEW'S
FUNERAL, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL SAYS UNREPENTANT GAYS WON'T GO TO HEAVEN
In yet another shocking example of poor timing, the religious right Family Research
Council issued a statement today, reportedly distancing itself from fundamentalist
protester Rev. Fred Phelps. The Family Research Council now joins a near-avalanche of
anti-gay groups who today are rushing to disown the "pro-family" Phelps, just as
his offensive protest of Matthew's funeral hit prime time.
Just as the American Center for the Truth About Homosexuality used their codemnation of
Phelps as an opportunity to brand gays as immoral and akin to adulters, the Family
Research Council (FRC) went one step further. FRC first admitted that: "we share Mr.
Phelps' opposition to the homosexual political agenda, his belief that homosexuality is a
sin", but that the organization differs with Phelps over "tactics." Even
more amazing, FRC took the occasion of Matthew's funeral to declare that gay Americans, if
they don't repent, will not go to Heaven: "homosexuals...if unrepentant, will not
inherit the kingdom of God." It was unclear whether FRC was implying that Matthew
Shepard, since he was not an "ex-gay" before his murder, was therefore not going
to heaven. Along those same lines, Phelps' protesters held signs saying "NO FAGS IN
HEAVEN" and "MATT IN HELL".
The Family Research Council press release follows:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 16, 1998
CONTACT: Kristin Hansen, (202) 393-2100
FOR RADIO: Chad Nykamp
FRC CALLS ON PHELPS' GROUP TO ABANDON PLANS TO PICKET MATTHEW SHEPARD'S FUNERAL
Murder victim's family, friends deserve to be left alone, Knight says
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Rev. Fred Phelps, who brandishes signs such as "God Hates
Fags," apparently plans to picket the funeral of murder victim Matthew Shepard.
Family Research Council urges him not to do so.
"The Shepard family deserves to be left alone in their time of grief," said
FRC's Director of Cultural Studies Robert H. Knight, who notes that Mr. Shepard's father
has asked, "Don't let this become a circus. Don't use Matt as part of an
"Homosexual activists have ignored that father's plea and have exploited Matthew's
death as a rallying cry for political activism," Knight said. "They have
outrageously and absurdly linked the murder to a series of redemptive TV and newspaper ads
about homosexuality sponsored by FRC, Coral Ridge Ministries and other pro-family groups.
They are pressing for ill-advised federal 'hate crimes' laws, all the while using hateful
rhetoric against Christians. If self-identified Christians harass and picket mourners at
Mr. Shepard's funeral, then homosexual activists in the media will use the imagery to
smear all Christians.
"While we share Mr. Phelps' opposition to the homosexual political agenda, his belief
that homosexuality is a sin, and his call for punishment of Mr. Shepard's killers, we do
not endorse his tactics, and have asked his group to stop letting themselves be used by
the media to crudely caricature Christians.
"The 'truth in love' media campaign reaches out to people struggling with
homosexuality and offers them hope for change and redemption. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10,
homosexuals are included in a list of sinners, who, if unrepentant, will not inherit the
kingdom of God. Verse 11 says, however, 'And that is what some of you were. ...' This
means that homosexuals, like other sinners, can be redeemed."
Personal testimonies from former homosexuals can be seen and heard on FRC's video
documentary: Hope & Healing: Stories of Coming Out of Homosexuality. A companion
booklet, also entitled Hope & Healing, offers an authentic Christian approach of
ministering to people struggling with homosexuality.
FOR MORE INFORMATION OR INTERVIEWS, CONTACT THE FRC PRESS OFFICE.
To unsubscribe from this list, please call our order line at 1-800-225-4008. Family
Research Council is located at 801 G Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001. Phone:
202-393-2100. Fax: 202-393-2134.
Sat Oct 17, 1998 - 12:13AM EDT - RELIGIOUS RIGHT
TRIES TO DISTANCE SELF FROM ONE OF THEIR OWN
In a flurry of frantic press releases and television appearances, reminiscent of the
famous 'Wizard of Oz' scene where the exposed fraud yells "ignore that man behind the
curtain," religious right groups attempted to distance themselves today from one of
their own - Baptist Minister Fred Phelps. Phelps and his parishioners protested outside
Shepard's funeral today, carrying signs saying "AIDS CURES FAGS", "GOD
HATES FAGS", "NO FAGS IN HEAVEN", "FAG SIN" (showing two stick
figures of men having intercourse) - and worst of all, "MATT IN HELL". When
Phelps' parishioners were interviewd on ABC News they said: "he lived in shame, he
died in shame."
With Phelps at grave risk of giving intolerance a bad name, groups and individuals that
are now trying to disown the religious right spokesman include the Family Research
Council, the American Family Association, Jerry Falwell, Southern Baptist Convention, and
Americans for the Truth About Homosexuality. The press release from the latter group, run
by Peter LaBarbera, who is also editor of the viciously anti-gay "The Lambda
Report", says that gays are "immoral" and compares them to adulterers. An
ill-timed, but perhaps not surprising, slur of gay people on the day of Matthew's funeral.
That release follows:
LaBarbera Condemns 'God Hates Fags' Pastor's Protest At Matthew Shepard's Funeral Jesus
Said to Adulteress 'Go and Sin No More' -- Not 'God Hates Whores'
WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Peter LaBarbera, President of Americans for Truth, a
group that opposes homosexual activism, condemned the picket by "God Hates Fags"
activist Rev. Fred Phelps at the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old Wyoming student
who was homosexual and was brutally murdered last week.
Phelps is a Topeka preacher who tours the country protesting homosexual events and
funerals with signs containing messages such as GOD HATES FAGS, AIDS CURES FAGS, NO TEARS
FOR QUEERS, etc. He has announced plans to picket Shepard's funeral in Carson, Wyoming
"Fred Phelps' pickets at funerals are ridiculous," LaBarbera said. "To
confront a grieving family with such an incendiary message is offensive to both Christians
and non-Christians alike. It certainly does nothing to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ
as Phelps asserts."
Americans for Truth about Homosexuality has condemned the murder of Shepard -- and efforts
to exploit it by homosexual activists who are attempting to link the crime to a recent
profamily ad campaign that highlighted the testimonies of former homosexuals. Americans
for Truth was one of 15 pro-family organizations to sponsor the ex-"gay" ads,
which appeared in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and other major newspapers. (The
ads did not appear in a Wyoming or Colorado newspaper.)
"Once again, Phelps and the media are drawing attention to his crude and erroneous
message that God 'hates' homosexuals," LaBarbera said. "We try to emphasize the
hopeful message that homosexuality is an immoral behavior that -- like any sinful behavior
-- can be overcome. Jesus said to the adulteress, 'Go and sin no more,' not 'God Hates
LaBarbera criticized the media for giving undue attention to Phelps, whose message and
tactics have been criticized by most pro-family groups that oppose homosexuality. He added
that ironically, "Phelps has been slow to recognize former homosexuals and 'ex-gay'
Christian ministries, which have helped many men and women overcome homosexuality."
Americans for Truth publishes the bimonthly Lambda Report. For more information, see Web
site: www.americansfortruth.com. Phone: 703-491-7975.
Fri Oct 16, 1998 - 10:35PM EDT - NIGHTLINE TONIGHT
ABOUT MATTHEW SHEPARD! ABC is saying that tonight's Nightline will be about:
"Reflections from the people of Wyoming on the day of Matthew Shepard's funeral.
Correspondent Michel McQueen reports on a community searching for answers in the brutal,
beating death of his gay college student."
Fri Oct 16, 1998 - 6:50PM EDT - PLEASE TRY TO PLAN
VIGILS THIS WEEKEND TO PRESSURE CONGRESS
WIRED STRATEGIES ALERT
Friday October 16, 1998 - 5:30PM EDT
HOLD VIGILS THIS WEEKEND - DEMAND CONGRESS PASS HATE CRIMES LEGISLATION NOW
Invite the Media
As you know, the religious right has called on Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott to kill
the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. For that reason, we have had a slew of folks calling Lott
and House Speaker Newt Gingrich all day today to demand passage of the bill. From reports
we've had, those offices are getting a LOT of calls, and are none too pleased about it.
Lott's office reportedly called one caller "you people," and when the caller
asked her name, she retorted: "what's YOUR name?"
Congress is still in session through Monday, so we have one more work day to get them to
do the right thing. We are therefore urging EVERY TOWN to try and hold a vigil THIS
WEEKEND - or that there be a statewide vigil at the office of your US Senators - to send a
messge to Congress that Matthew's death shall not be in vain, they must pass the federal
hate crimes law. In addition, we ask that you contact your local media and invite them to
cover the story. Such public pressure is the only way we will convince Congress that hate
1) Plan your vigil for this Saturday or Sunday - as Monday is likely Congress' last day,
it's easier to influence Congress by having the vigils now (though of course, later vigils
are certainly encouraged nonetheless).
2) While candlelight vigils are of course beautiful, it's easier for local press to attend
if you have an earlier vigil, like early afternoon, or late monrning.
3) We recommend holding the vigil outside the offices of your local Members of Congress -
or if there aren't local offices near, you can hold it in a park, at a church, at a local
college, really anywhere.
4) Invite 4 or 5 speakers representing different (but sympathetic) perspectives: for
example, a parent; a gay young person; a preacher; a local politician; college kids; a
local crisis counselor; anyone who has been the victim of a hate crime or bashing.
5) Have each person prepare and read a 5 minute statement, starting with who they are, and
then telling why they think it's important that Congress, and their local Members of
Congress, pass a federal hate crimes law.
6) Make multiple xeroxes of each statement to hand out to the press. 7) Make posters that
you can hold up. Be creative, but make sure they call for Congress to pass the hate crimes
8) Invite the media! Call your local newspapers, radio and TV stations, and tell them
you're holding a vigil for Matthew Shepard and federal hate crimes legislation, and that
you'd like them to cover it.
9) You can find some hate crimes data, and examples of anti-gay hate crimes from the last
year, on the Matthew Shepard Online Resources site
http://www.wiredstrategies.com/shepard.html. The data is in a number of the statement
posted on the site (you'll have to scroll down through a lot to find them, but they're
there.) The examples of hate crimes are in the left hand margin of the home page.
10) Also posted on the site is a statement made by one of Matthew's best friends at a
vigil in DC the other day. It's a beautiful statement and calls on Congress to pass the
hate crimes bill - perhaps there are some quotes you can use for the vigil, also perhaps
make copies for the press.
11) Post your vigil on the Matthew Shepard Online Resources bulletin board, found at
http://www.wiredstrategies.com/wwwboard. This allows others, including those of us in
Washington, DC, and local and national press, to find out about it.
12) Check the bulletin board and see if there are other vigils taking place in your area.
Consider joining forces, or at least mentioning each other during your respective vigils -
to show how much is happening in your state or region.
13) Get more information on the federal law, and national hate crimes data, at a page set
up by the Human Rights Campaign: http://www.hrc.org/feature1/shepard.html.
14) Find additional how-to resources on holding a vigil online at:
Thank you so much for everything you are doing. The incredible outpouring of emotion and
activism is a dramatic tribute to Matthew's spirt and love.
Fri Oct 16, 1998 - 12:45PM EDT - MATT'S FATHER MAKES
Casper, Wyoming - 12:15PM EDT - MSNBC
Matt's family just held a brief press conference in Casper, Wyoming - preceding his
funeral which will be this afternoon. The statement was carried live by MSNBC. What
follows are some select quotes from the broadcast.
"We say goodbe to a wonderful young man", said Matt's uncle, introducing Matt's
parents Dennis and Judy Shepard.
Matt's father and mother then approached the microphones. Matt's father, Dennis, spoke,
while his mother stood by his side, holding an umbrella, clearly fighting back tears.
"We want to thank the citizens of the United States and the people of the
world..." As Mr. Shepard began, Mrs. Shepard began to cry.
"A person as caring and loving as our son Matt would be overwhelmed by what this
incident has done to the hearts and souls of people around the world....We the family have
no adquate way of expressing our gratitude of the thousand of email comments, Web site
messages, phone calls and cards offering help, consolation, sympathy and support that we
have received....We are honored and touched beyond measure."
"We will never forget the love that the world has shared."
Matt's mother then began to sob, and the two parents walked away, arm in arm, preparing
for the imminent funeral of their 21 year old son.
Fri Oct 16 - 2:00AM EDT - RELIGIOUS
RIGHT TELLS SEN. LOTT: KILL THE HATE CRIMES BILL TODAY
Personal note from John of Wired Strategies:
A well-placed Senate source told me tonight that a certain well-known "family
values" group has told Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) to kill the Hate
Crimes Prevention Act before Congress finishes up today (Friday). Today is Matthew's
funeral. And while the Rev. Fred Phelps is protesting at Matthew's grave, his henchman are
doing their best to keep hate alive in Washington. We HAVE to get as many calls - not
emails (it's too late for that) - as possible to Lott and Gingrich IMMEDIATELY!
Our goal? Close down their phones.
Let's do this one for Matthew, folks.
PS Don't let them tell you they're passing, or have passed, a "resolution" on
Matthew's death. These are do-nothing bills, like declaring "National Butter
Day," that Congress passes to kiss up to special interests - we want a real law that
protects our lives.
Now read the following official alert....
ONLINE DAY OF ACTION FOR MATTHEW
Friday October 16, 1998
*** NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS Announce Day of
Emergency Action to Honor Matthew Shepard***
*** PHONE LOTT AND GINGRICH NOW!!! ***
WHO: The Human Rights Campaign, Wired Strategies, GLAAD, NGLTF and PlanetOut are
jointly sponsoring a national day of action to tell Congress "Enough is Enough - Pass
the Hate Crimes Law NOW!"
WHAT: We are mobilizing the Net to shut down the phones of House Speaker Newt
Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott until they pass the HATE CRIMES PREVENTION
ACT. Congress' last day for the year is Friday October 16 - so we need to act now, and
close them down all day long.
WHEN: Friday October 16, naturally.
HOW'S IT WORK?: The action is easy.
1) Pick up the phone and call Sen. Lott and Rep. Gingrich now!
* Lott's phone numbers: (202) 224-3135, and (202) 224-6253
* Gingrich's phone numbers: (202) 225-0600, and (202) 225-4501
* TELL THEM: "Matthew Shepard's death in not just a tragedy, it's
unacceptable. Congress has been sitting on the Hate Crimes Prevention Act for over a year.
Pass it now before the Congressional session is over!"
2) Send this email to as many friends as possible, urging them to act.
3) If you have a Web site, we would ask that you post an alert on your home page all day
Friday asking everyone visiting your site to call Sen. Lott and Rep. Gingrich immediately.
A FINAL WORD: Matthew Shepard may be gone, but we refuse to let his too short life
and untimely death be in vain. Please join us now in turning our sorrow and anger into
positive action. If you need some inspiration, take another look at the Virtual Vigil,
linked off the top of this page - read the quotes, see the pictures, feel the spirit, and
act like your life depends on it. It does.
Thu Oct 15 - 9:50PM EDT - "HOW CAN THINGS LIKE
THIS STILL HAPPEN?"
I've just received the following email from a 24-year-old in Portugal.
Date: Fri, 16 Oct 1998 02:35:56 +0100
I'm a 24 year old Portuguese and I was quite shocked when I read in a local newspaper
about the death of young Matthew Sheppard. I live in a country almost unknown for the most
of the americans, where homosexuality isn't accepted as it is in the U.S., however where
things like this don't happen. You're probably the most evolved country in the world so,
how can things like this still happen. Being gay is wonderful...why dont they let as live
in same way we let them ????
Why indeed, Nunes.
Thu Oct 15 - 9:00PM EDT - HRC STATEMENT ON DC VIGIL
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 15, 1998
THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE GATHER IN WASHINGTON D.C. TO MOURN
THE DEATH OF MATTHEW SHEPARD
Law Makers Call for Congress to Pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act
WASHINGTON -- Thousands of mourners gathered on the west steps of the U.S. Capitol in
Washington D.C. Wednesday night in remembrance of Wyoming hate crime victim Matthew
Shepard. The candlelight vigil, organized by HRC, GLAAD, and NGLTF, helped focus the
nation's attention on the pervasive problem of anti-gay violence, according to the Human
"This hate crime did not happen in a vacuum. We all know there has been a concerted,
obsessive and well-resourced effort over the past few months to present gay and lesbian
Americans as defective, imperfect and in need of conversion. We call on right wing groups
to immediately stop the ad campaign that is pumping lies into every community in this
country...they create a climate and environment of intolerance and give license to those
who seek to vent their rage or frustration on an entire community," said HRC
Executive Director Elizabeth Birch at the vigil.
Several members of Congress attended the vigil including Senator Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.,
former Senator Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo. The
law makers expressed their sorrow over Matthew's death and renewed calls for Congress to
pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA).
"Hate crimes legislation needs to be passed now," said Gephardt. The minority
Leader then led the crowd in a chant, "now, now, now."
Actresses Anne Heche, Ellen DeGeneres, Kristen Johnston, Third Rock from the Sun; Ellen's
mom, Betty DeGeneres; actor Dan Butler, Frasier; and national civil rights leaders, also
attended the rally.
"I can't stop crying. I am so devastated by this, I'm begging heterosexuals to see
this as a wake-up call to please stem the hate. We shouldn't be asked to change who we
are," said DeGeneres at the vigil.
Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student, was savagely attacked and left to
die for up to 18 hours tied to a wooden fence outside Laramie, 30 miles northwest of
Cheyenne. He died Monday morning in a hospital in Fort Collins Colorado.
When Shepard was initially found, last Thursday, he was unconscious and his skull had been
smashed with a blunt object. Two motorcyclists who found his body said he looked
"like a scarecrow" because of the way he was positioned on the fence. Prior to
this fatal attack, he had recently been beaten twice and attributed those attacks to his
openness about his sexuality.
The Human Rights Campaign is the nation's largest national lesbian and gay political
organization, with members throughout the country, 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.
Thu Oct 15 - 2:30AM EDT - FIRST-HAND REPORT FROM THE
DC VIGIL, OCTOBER 14
By John Aravosis of Wired Strategies:
It was a clear, cool fall evening in Washington, DC as the candlelight vigil for Matthew
Shepard began promptly at 7pm tonight (Oct. 14). The sun had just set over the Washington
Monument, and the crowds were large, extending all the way up the steps of the Capitol and
around the upper balcony. There were men, women, young, old, black, white, Latino and
Asian. Many came with groups of friends, others with a lover or spouse. Many had green
glow sticks, and many others candles. As the evening progresse d, there were politicians,
movie stars, Matthew's best friends, and gay rights advocates - all assembled for an
evening of remembrance, tears, and admittedly, anger.
Select quotes from various speakers:
Ellen was great. She walked up to the podium and the crowd went wild. The first thing she
said was something to the effect of: "And they thought I'd finally shut up." The
crowd laughed, and then things became deadly serious. "I am so pissed off," Elle
n began. "I can't stop crying." Her voice immediately broke, she looked at the
crowd, caught her breath and said in a now-strained, softer and emotion-ladened voice:
"This is what I was trying to stop - this is why I did what I did." It was a
moving mo ment that brought Ellen's coming out experience into a new and suddenly much
more serious light. I still get chills writing this.
She talked about the preachers who claim to speak for
family values, but "when something like this happens, where are they?", she
said. "I don't see full-page ads saying 'stop the hate, stop the violence.'" She
then took on those who use the Bible to just anti-gay intolerance: "The Bible also
was used to justify slavery." And she closed by noting that "everyone has the
right to love." The crowd adored her.
Anne began by saying something like ""I am so proud to be Ellen Degeneres'
wife." The crowd laughed. Anne focused her speech on the religious right and their
conservative defenders in Congress. She talked about conservative religious organizations
that are "taught to preach, bu t not to think." She told Republican Senate
Leader Trent Lott, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and religious right leader Jerry
Falwell that "we are all children of God." She criticized ex-gay groups who
claim to cure gay people and try to make gays more like them: "I do not want to be
like you....you are the abomination in the eyes of my God....groups who are founded in
Joan Garry, Executive Director of GLAAD:
"Anyone who thinks that love needs to be cured has not experienced enough of it in
their own lives."
Kerri Lobel, Executive Director of the National Gay and
Lesbian Task Force:
Matthew's death "is about a society that devalues us." But his death will
"spark a renewal of our spirit and our commitment to work for equality."
Elizabeth Birch, Executive Director of the Human Rights
"This crime did not happen in a vacuum." Right-wing groups repeatedly say that
gay men and lesbians are "defective, imperfect, in need of conversion." She then
challenged the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and Christian Coalition to
"imme diately stop this ad campaign." She closed by saying: "Let Matthew
remind us that we have a long long way to go."
Dan Butler (Bulldog on Frasier):
"The glory of God is in everyone."
Kathy Najimi of Veronica's Closet sent a letter read by
Kristen Johnston of 3rd Rock from the Sun:
"Right wing conservative groups are perpetrating lies, fear, and anger towards gays
and lesbians....They turn their backs on hate inspired murders."
Congressman John Lewis (D-GA):
The former civil rights leader who walked with Martin Luther King gave a moving speech.
"We must continue to stand up for what is right, what is fair, and what is
just." "Maybe we came over here in different ships, but we're all in the same
boat now." "Matthew is one who gave his life as those who gave their lives in
the early days of the civil rights movement - his life must not be in vain."
Congresswoman Connie Morella (R-MD):
We must "take this tragedy and translate it into action."
Congressman Tom Campbell (R-CA):
"If others might live because he died, then truly he has not died."
Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL):
Referring to Congress, and their inaction on the federal hate crimes bill: "Why don't
you all just shut up and pass the bill!" Noting Matthew's fluency in several
languages, and his desire to work in a foreign embassy, he said of Matthew: "you are
our be st ambassador for humanity." Foley then took on the family values crowd.
"Stop trying to score political points" by attacking gay men and lesbians, he
told the conservative Christian groups. For those who say they speak for family values,
"gay men and women have families too!"
Presidential Adviser Virginia Apuzzo:
Apuzzo accused the religious right "pro-family" groups of promoting "lies,
myths and distortions about our lives," and that their mistruths have "provided
the rationale for violence and death." She noted that the President introduced the
federal hate cri mes bill over one year ago, yet Congress has still not acted on it. With
regards to Congress' foot-dragging on the legislation, Apuzzo said: "Whether or not
they have the will - if they don't have the will to pass it, we don't have the will to
send them back!"
One of the most moving moments of the evening was when
Daniel, a 17 year old Latino boy took the podium. A year earlier he had been severely
beaten by several boys at school, who yelled "Die you fucking faggot" as they
kicked and punched him. Daniel' s only thought at the time were: "I am going to
die." Soon thereafter, he tried to kill himself, reasoning that: "before they
kill me, I am going to kill myself." Thanks to the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance
League (SMYAL) in DC, Daniel now has a new lease on life.
An entertainer sang a beautiful version of one of
Matthew's favorite songs with a line that went: "The only measure of your words and
your deeds is the love that you leave behind when you're gone."
Additional speakers included: Senator Edward Kennedy
(D-MA); DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton; House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO);
former Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY); two of Matthew's best friends Alex and Walter; Rea
Carey, Executive Direct or of the National Youth Advocacy Coalition; Craig Bowman,
Executive Director of the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League; and many others.
Thu Oct 15, 1998 - 4:17AM EDT - REMARKS OF MATTHEW'S
FRIEND AT DC VIGIL
REMARKS OF WALTER BOULDEN
MATTHEW SHEPARD VIGIL
OCTOBER 14, 1998
Wow! I don't know what it looks like from
down there, but this is very impressive from up here. I stand before you, not as a
representative of any organization, profession, or group. I stand before you as a gay man,
a parent, a neighbor, and a third generation native son of Wyoming, the equality state.
But more importantly, Alex and I stand before you as friends of Matt Shepard. Alex and I
have been asked repeatedly to help people understand who Matt was.
I sat for over an hour, looking at this blank paper, afraid to put my pen to it, a
multitude of random images flashing through my mind, images and memories of Matt.
It has taken several days for the shock to wear thin, and for the images of Matt to fight
their way past the horrible image of his broken and battered body lying in that hospital
bed. But Matt has made it back into my consciousness, past the horror, the shock, and the
exhaustion. His smile dances before my eyes as I write.
All those who were graced with the gift of knowing Matt, know the smile I am talking
about. Matt never smiled with just his mouth. His whole face and body would light up. His
eyes would dance and his vibrancy and energy just radiated from his whole being. It never
mattered where we were, when I would meet Matt, he would bounce up to me, throw his arms
around me in a hug only Matt could give, and immediately start into some conversation that
would quickly suck me in. And we were lost in whatever topic was on his mind when we
bumped into each other. His insight, humor, and concern, all poured out, regardless of
whether we were talking about world affairs, a class, a friend, or clothes and fashion.
Throughout the conversation, Matt would pause, assume a very introspective posture, and
take a draw from his cigarette, always careful to blow the smoke away from anyone sitting
near. And I'd have to smile. It was at this moment that I'd see all the care that Matt put
into his appearance, the way his hair looked, the way his clothes reflected his mood, the
way he was sitting. I might point that out, and we would laugh and talk about presentation
and fashion and wanting people to have a favorable first impression. Matt wanted people to
know him and like him at a level far deeper than the superficial "small-talk"
stage, but believed people judge each other with first impressions. Matt would be appalled
that we are standing here in our everyday clothes instead of brand new suits.
When I say, Matt would bounce up to me, the image is crystal clear. Again, anyone who knew
Matt knows what his "bounce" was like. We would talk and laugh about the way he
walked. I'd remind him that he once told me he used to practice the way he walked, we'd
laugh. He told me that his African American friend would tell him he walks "like a
brother." Again, we'd laugh. Matt was very proud of that compliment. I'd tell him he
was so skinny because he used up too much energy with his "bounce."
But there are other images that also present themselves. Matt showing up at my door, and
asking "Am I bothering you?" His eyes were not dancing, and he was not offering
his energetic hug. His eyes had the look of a little boy who has just seen a scary movie.
He'd come in and ask if he could "just hang." He'd have his backpack and school
books with him. He'd either sit and watch TV for a little while, or take his books out and
start doing homework. After a short time he'd start talking about hearing someone call out
"faggot," or hearing someone talk about "queers." We'd talk about how
this touched Matt at the core of his heart, and that he needed to feel safe again. Then
he'd just hang around, regrouping, and trying to harden himself. Something that never came
easy for Matt, because he was not the type of person to "be hard."
After some time, the Matt with the dancing eyes would start coming back and he'd be off to
class or to meet a friend for coffee.
Like Alex and myself, Matt was also a native son of Wyoming. A gentle, vibrant, loving
young man who loved Wyoming and had returned home to go to school. Just a week before he
was so savagely tortured and murdered, Matt told me how happy he was to be back home, how
comfortable he felt in Laramie, and how safe he felt there compared to the big city. I was
so happy to hear that because I had encouraged Matt to come home.
Matt's sense of safety was betrayed by every legislator in Wyoming and this nation who has
opposed or voted against hate crime legislation over the last years. These men and women
represented the leadership of our state and Nation, and sent a clear and tangible message
to the people of our state, and to the children of our nation that it is okay to
"Hate Gays and Lesbians." Through opposition to hate crime legislation which
clearly states we will not tolerate hate, our leadership has sanctioned an atmosphere of
ignorance, prejudice, oppression, and hatred. Our children have been, and are still
listening and watching. Alex and I stand here before you because some of our children
heard that message and interpreted it to mean it is okay to savagely torture and murder
one of our gay children.
I will never be able to understand the thinking of a person who could do something so
horrific to another human being. But these two young men did not in any way try to hide
their crime. They did not dump Matt's battered body in some ditch hoping the snow would
hide it until next Spring. They strung him up on a fence, displaying him like a trophy,
announcing to the community and world what they had done. This display was an attempt to
intimidate and subjugate Wyoming's gay community and send the message that all gays and
lesbians deserve such violence.
Those are the actions of people who think somebody, somewhere, is going to applaud what
they did. Those are the actions of people who believe they are living in an environment
that would protect them, and allow them to get away with their actions. I hope they are
shocked by the response of the people of Laramie, Wyoming and this nation. But only time
will tell whether on not they were correct in their assessment of the environment in
Wyoming and the nation.
Alex and I are here because our lives have been shattered by the violent murder of our
dear gentle friend. But this is not just about Matt. This is not just about Wyoming. All
of us know about the daily physical attacks on gays and lesbians throughout this nation.
We also know about the minute by minute verbal and emotional violence against gays and
lesbians everywhere. But this is not just about gay and lesbian issues. We are here
because of hatred and violence. The enemy is not heterosexuals, the enemy is oppression.
Oppression against all vulnerable groups and populations.
There are still some in our government attempting to rationalize their stance of
opposition to hate crime legislation. They do not seem to understand that hate crimes are
directed at a person because of that person's membership in a particular group, and the
hate crime serves to intimidate and subjugate the entire group. We will never know, one
way or another, whether hate crime legislation would have prevented this savage attack on
our friend, Matt. We all know that laws in themselves do not prevent crime. But laws do
voice the "heart and will" of the people.
I look around at the outpouring of love and compassion that has been expressed by the
people of Wyoming and the entire nation during this time of horror and tragedy. These are
images I have always had of the people of this nation. Loving, friendly, compassionate,
caring, and willing to come to the aid of others. Have I been so blind, or na´ve? Have I
been so wrong about the people of this nation?
We stand at a moment in time which will define who we are as individuals, as states, and
as a nation. It is time to look in the mirror and then look in the eyes of our children
and our neighbors and say this is who we are and that is who we are not. No words are
going to convince anyone of anything. Words are cheap. We will define ourselves, and be
judged by our actions or by our lack of action.
I cannot stand on these steps to the Capitol and demand that our leaders commit to the
eradication of hatred and violence if I am not willing to do the same. I am not talking
about a commitment to just gay rights. I am talking about a commitment to actively fight
for the rights of all people.
As a white, middle classed, formally educated, temporarily abled man, I must look at and
recognize my position of privilege and use that position to actively fight for the rights
of all races, for the rights of those who have been denied access to the economic
opportunities of our nation, for the rights of those who are denied access to a quality
education, for the rights of the disabled, for the rights of women, and for the rights of
every other human being. I must actively work to eradicate all forms of oppression on a
personal and public level. Only then can I demand that our political leaders do the same.
Governor Geringer, President Clinton, and the leadership of Congress have an opportunity
to lead all of us into a new era. They can help us look in the mirror, stand up straight
and tall, and send a loud and clear message to our children, our neighbors, and the world
that we are not a people filled with hate. Congress can pass Hate Crime legislation that
clearly states we do not sanction and we will not tolerate hate and that we believe in,
and stand for, equality. Anything less will be a confirmation that we are the hateful,
ignorant, and barbaric people the world must see us as now. If we fail to act, we allow
the actions of Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney to speak for us.
Alex and I are here because our dear and gentle friend, Matthew Shepard, was brutally
tortured and murdered. But we all know we are here for more than that.
Matt once told me that someday he was going to be famous and that he was going to make a
difference in the area of human rights. When I look out at all of you and reflect on what
is going on in the building behind us, I have to think he had no idea how true that
statement would be.
Matt is never going to hop off my couch and bounce off to class or to meet a friend, ever
again. But I have to believe that his eyes are dancing as he looks down and sees how he
has touched the heart and soul of the people of this nation.
But please remember, no matter what good may come from all of this, THE PRICE WAS TOO
The price was too high.
Please be safe.
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