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   "The opportunity to be threatened, humiliated and to live in fear of being beaten to death is the only 'special right' our culture bestows on homosexuals."   
- Diane Carman, Denver Post

 Matthew Shepard Online Resources Archive
(click here to return to the main page)  

LATEST NEWS 

Wed Oct 14, 1998 - 5:20PM EDT - BUSY NIGHT: DC VIGIL, ABC NEWS, 20/20, NIGHTLINE
DC VIGIL
Tonight at 7PM, there will be a vigil for Matthew Shepard at the west side of the US Capitol building in Washington, DC. The event is hosted by HRC, GLAAD and NGLTF. Special guests will include Ellen Degeneres, Ellen's mom Betty, and Anne Heche. As can dles are not allowed on the Capitol grounds, attendees are urged to bring glow sticks and other lighted objects - in addition, there should be some additional glow sticks available. Check back here later this evening for coverage of the DC vigil and, if the digital camera works, pictures online.

ABC NEWS
ABC's World News Tonight will likely be airing a story about hate crimes and the intolerant atmosphere on American college campuses. The show is expected to be aired this evening.

20/20
ABC's 20/20 is reported to be broadcasting this evening an interview with the girlfriend of one of Matthew's accused killers, Kristen Price.

NIGHTLINE
Nightline is possibly doing a portion of its broadcast on the Matthew Shepard case as well.

Note from John of Wired Strategies:
As I will be attending the vigil, this site will next be updated in a few hours.
 

Wed Oct 14, 1998 - 2:20PM EDT - "FAMILY VALUES" GROUP SAYS HATE CRIME LAWS "SILENCE POLITICAL OPPOSITION" 
The Family Research Council, a "pro-family" religious right organization based in Washington, DC - and one of several organizations that announced a new "ex-gay" ad campaign within hours of Matthew being found near-dead along a country rode in Wyoming - told the New York Times yesterday that:

"'Hate crimes laws have nothing to do with perpetrators of violent crime and everything to do with silencing political opposition,' said Steven Schwalm, an analyst with the Family Research Council, a Washington group dedicated to defendin g faith, family and freedom. 'It would criminalize pro-family beliefs,' Schwalm said....'This basically sends a message that you can't disagree with the political message of homosexual activists.'" - From the New York Times, October 13, 1998, "Gay Stude nt Who Was Kidnapped and Beaten Dies".

[FYI - Schwalm worked before for Oliver North, and is a former Republican Senate staffer.]

A few questions from John of Wired Strategies:
1) When Matthew's attackers tied him spread-eagle to a fence, and in response to his pleas to spare his life, broke his head open with the butt of a pistol and left him to die, what particular theory of "political opposition" were they espousing? And why wouldn't we want to silence political opposition that manifests itself in the savage murder or America's youth?
2) Is this article suggesting that pistol-whipping and murder are "pro-family beliefs"?
3) I guess kidnapping and murdering someone because they're gay definitely qualifies as a "political message." But does anyone really have a problem sending a "message that you can't disagree" with the summary execution of a 21-year-old college kid?
4) An overwhelming majority of Americans oppose Matthew's murder and would like to see it not happen again. Are they all "homosexual activists"? Or is the use of that term simply a convenient way to further demonize Matthew's sympathizers?

CONTACT INFO: The Family Research Council has disconnected their main email account, but they say on their Web site that: "If you have a message or request of a time-dated or urgent nature, we ask that you call our order line at 800-225-4 008."
 

Wed Oct 14, 1998 - 10:10AM EDT - FRANK RICH (NYT) SLAMS MILITANT FUNDAMENTALISTS

Frank Rich: The Road to Laramie
NEW YORK TIMES, October 14, 1998
JOURNAL / By FRANK RICH

On the same day Americans learned last week that Matthew Shepard, a 5-foot-2, 105-pound gay college student, had been tortured, strung up like an animal and left to die on a fence outside Laramie, Wyo., the Family Research Council was co-hosting a pre ss conference in Washington. It was the latest salvo in a six-month campaign by the religious right, with the tacit, even explicit, approval of Republican leaders, to demonize gay people for political gain in this election year.

This particular press conference was to announce a new barrage of ads -- a TV follow-up to a summer print campaign -- in which alleged former homosexuals who have "changed" implore others to do likewise "through the power of Jesus Christ." The commerci als, gooey in style, end with a slogan: "It's not about hate -- It's about hope."

But it's really about stirring up the fear that produces hate. If these ads were truly aimed at gay people, they wouldn't be broadcast at extravagant cost to the wide general audience reached by TV, and they wouldn't be trumpeted in Washington, insurin g free national exposure, three weeks before Election Day. The ads themselves, despite the sugar-coating of "hope," ooze malice. In one of them, homosexuality is linked to drug addiction and certain death by AIDS; all of them implicitly posit that homosex uality is itself a disease in need of a cure.

Matthew Shepard has now been "cured," that's for sure. As his uncle, R.W. Eaton, told The Denver Post, the 21-year-old Matt, who aspired to a career in diplomacy and human rights, was "a small person with a big heart, mind and soul that someone tried t o beat out of him." Of his nephew's shattered body Eaton said, "It's like something you might see in war." And a war it is. Go to the Family Research Council's Web site and you will find a proud description of its readiness to "wage the war against the ho mosexual agenda and fight to maintain the traditional meaning of 'family.'"

The head of the Family Research Council is Gary Bauer, a G.O.P. power broker and putative Presidential candidate, who disingenuously goes on talk shows to say that his organization hates no one and deplores violence. But if you wage a well-financed med ia air war in which people with an innate difference in sexual orientation are ceaselessly branded as sinful and diseased and un-American seekers of "special rights," ground war will follow. It's a story as old as history. Once any group is successfully s capegoated as a subhuman threat to "normal" values by a propaganda machine, emboldened thugs take over.

Two weeks after James Byrd was savagely dragged to his death from a pickup truck in Texas in June, I wrote a column about an ugly incident outside the G.O.P. state convention in Fort Worth, where a mob threatened a group of gay Log Cabin Republicans wh o were protesting discriminatory treatment by their own party. The gay-bashers had been directly preceded by steady saber-rattling from Republican politicians: Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma had likened James Hormel, a gay nominee to an ambassadorship, to David Duke; Pat Robertson had wondered on TV if God might wreak havoc on Disney World for its "Gay Days"; the Texas G.O.P. spokesman had likened Log Cabin to the Ku Klux Klan.

Just two days after this near-brush with violence in Fort Worth, Trent Lott was on TV seconding the religious right's condemnation of gay people as sinful and sick. A frightened gay Texas Republican who had been at the convention melee asked when I int erviewed him then: "Do you have to have someone hurt and beat up and dragged from a truck to stop this?"

Months later not even the murder in Laramie has moved Senator Lott to apologize for his words, and still no major G.O.P. leader dares take on its "religious" wing and its crusade against people like Matthew Shepard.

In one of the new ads in that supposedly hate-free crusade, an ostensibly loving mother condemns her son for the "bad choice" of being gay. Is it that mother who speaks for American values, or is it Matthew's? "Go home, give your kids a hug," Judy Shep ard said in a message read by a tearful hospital spokesman who announced her child's death early Monday morning, "and don't let a day go by without telling them you love them."

New York Times email address - tell them Frank Rich is right on: letters@nytimes.com


Wed Oct 14, 1998 - 9:45AM EDT - LOG CABIN CALLS FOR DEATH PENALTY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Kevin Ivers
October 13, 1998 (202) 347-5306 X12

LOG CABIN CALLS FOR DEATH PENALTY FOR MURDERERS OF MATTHEW SHEPARD
"Brutality of this Kind is Intolerable, Indefensible and Deserving of the Most Severe Punishment," says Gay GOP Group

(WASHINGTON) The nation's largest gay Republican organization condemned the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, a 21 year-old gay student in Laramie, Wyoming, and called on prosecutors to seek the death penalty under current Wyoming law for the suspects who have been charged with the crime.

"This was an incomprehensible act of brutality against an innocent and defenseless person," said Richard Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. "From the evidence, it is clear that anti-gay hatred was a factor in this crime, but the sheer savagery of the murder of Matthew Shepard is of such a magnitude that there should be no question but to seek the most severe punishment available under the laws of Wyoming -- the death penalty. Society must send the strongest message that brutality of this kind is intolerable, indefensible and deserving of the most severe punishment."

Tafel praised Governor Jim Geringer (R-WY) for his swift and outspoken condemnation of the crime, and for sending the message that while the state legislature should work to address the problem of hate crimes in Wyoming, there is also a b igger societal problem that must be addressed immediately by the citizens of the state.

"Governor Geringer is correct in focusing the immediate response on what this horrifying act says about the condition of our society in general," Tafel said, "and the need for all of us to reflect on how such a thing could happen. While Matthew Shepard's killers must be brought to justice, and legislation could be a short-term goal, we must tackle the larger issue of hatred and violence in our society immediately. We should, as a nation, ask ourselves why this happened, and what each of us can do from preventing it from ever happening again."

Log Cabin Republicans is the nation's largest gay Republican organization, with 50+ chapters nationwide, a full-time Washington office and a federal political action committee.

#####
Log Cabin Republicans Kevin Ivers
(202) 347-5306 phone Director of Public Affairs
(202) 347-5224 fax http://www.lcr.org
 

Wed Oct 14, 1998 - 12:10AM EDT - NATIONAL AND LOCAL VIGILS GROW 
There are a growing number of national and local vigils being planned to honor the memory of Matthew Shepard, and to demand that Congress and the states pass hate crimes legislation. Information on the Washington, DC vigil, taking place on Wednesday October 14, follows. If you want to know if there is a vigil in your area, or if you know of a vigil taking place (or wish to find volunteers to help you plan one locally) and would like to publicize it to others, please visit the online bulletin board section of this Web site.

What: National Vigil in Washington, DC
Date: Wednesday 10/14/98
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: West Steps of the U.S. Capitol Building
Public Transportation:
* Metro: Orange & Blue Lines to the Capitol South Station; or the Red Line to Union Station.
* Metrobus: 32,34,36 Lines to the US Capitol.

Attending: Member of Congress, Ellen DeGeneres & Anne Heche, Betty DeGeneres and other Community Leaders.

For additional information: HRC 202-628-4160 http://www.hrc.org NGLTF 202-332-6483 http://www.ngltf.org GLAAD 202-986-1360 http://www.glaad.org  
 

Tue Oct 13, 1998 - 7:40PM EDT - WORDS HAVE CONSEQUENCES 
Consider the following:

1) "'Homosexuals are condemned from the pulpit, in the classroom, at the dinner table, in the halls of Congress, and in that atmosphere it's not surprising that a certain percentage of people emerge feeling like it's all right to physically attack gays an d lesbians,' says Mark Potok, spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate crimes. 'I think mainstream leaders, religious and political, have to bear some responsibility for these types of crimes.'" USA Today, October 13, 1998

2) "'The law should deal with facts and acts and not attitudes,'' says Steven Schwalm, senior analyst with the Family Research Council, which opposes hate crime legislation. ''We have great sorrow and regret that the incident occurred. Bu t to try and blame pro-family or religious Americans because they oppose homosexual activity is Orwellian.'" USA Today, October 13, 1998

3) According to a June 12, 1998 story in the Orlando Sentinel, police arrested a young man this past June who ripped down dozens of gay-pride rainbow flags flying in downtown Orlando - the flags were approved by the City Council in a 6-1 vote. Family members say the man, 19-year-old Brendan Shawn McGarity, became angry about the flags after he heard televangelist Pat Robertson warn earlier this week that Orlando would be punished by God for allowing the gay pride banners to fly. The fla gs had been mounted on city light posts in observance of National Gay Pride Month. McGarity's 15-year-old sister, Lindsay McGarity, said her brother thought the city's decision to allow the flags "was a mockery of God. That's what he said. It was sort of his excuse for doing it.'' She said her brother had seen Robertson's televised warning that Orlando risks the wrath of God in the form of hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorist bombs and possibly a meteor by letting the flags fly on city poles. Robertson's warning was aired on The 700 Club television show on the Christian Broadcasting Network.

The point here: words have consequences. If some college kid could be spurred to commit a crime by the practically laughable claim that the flying of rainbow flags will lead God to send hurricanes, earthquakes and meteors, imagine what k ind of crimes impressionable college-aged kids could be inspired to commit when repeatedly told by political, religious, and "pro-family" leaders that gay people are not just sick, immoral, and scorned by God, but have actually chosen to be that way.  
 

Tue Oct 13, 1998 - 6:22PM EDT - VISIT REV. FRED PHELP'S WEB SITE 
While extremely offensive, I recommend everyone visit the home page of Reverend Fred Phelps, the preacher from the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas who, along with his extended family, has m ade a career out of picketing funerals of gay people, people with AIDS, suspected gay sympathizers and others. They usually appear with small children, all holding outrageous signs reading "God Hates Fags" and "AIDS Cures Fags," among others. If that wa sn't enough, the Web address of the site is www.godhatesfags.com, which should give you a sense of where he's coming from. Phelps has announced that he will be picketing Matthew's funeral on Friday in Casper, Wyoming.

With regards to Matthew's funeral, Phelps says on his Web site: "It's too late to rescue Matthew Shepard from the life of sin into which he was lured by the perverted, depraved and decadent American society into which he was born. All wh o say 'it's OK to be gay,' have the blood of Matthew & millions more on their hands."

I again warn that Phelps' site is extremely offensive. But as the national media is now covering the fact that his church will be picketing the funeral, I think it important that we all "know our enemy." In addition, I suggest you click here and take a look at the photo archives on his site. Then sit down and have a hard drink.

Feel free to send Phelps an email message at webmaster@godhatesfags.com.  
 

Tue Oct 13, 1998 - 5:05PM EDT - ACTIVISTS PROPOSE WEB BLACKOUT DAY 
Date: Tue, 13 Oct 1998 12:16:02 -0700
From: "Martin W., Webcreate.Com"

We are launching a small campaign on the web for web sites to go dark on Oct 16 with an active link to Hate Crimes Prevention Act on HRC. The info is located on http://gayplace.com. Please help us propagate. This could bring a lot more attention to this important piece of legislation.

"Martin Wiesiolek - GayPlace.com

Note from John Aravosis of Wired Strategies: Friday the 16th is the day of Matthew's funeral.  
 

Tue Oct 13, 1998 - 3:45PM EDT - ANTI-GAY PREACHER TO PICKET SHEPARD FUNERAL  
I just received this feedback from a friend in Wyoming:
In today's Casper Star Tribune details of Matt's funeral here in Casper were announced. The funeral will be held 1:30 PM, Friday at St. Mark's Episcopal Church. The paper had several good, local editorials and letters to the editor from around the count ry about Matt's death. Also several articles about how many Wyomingites hate gay people.

Unfortunately, an anti-homosexual group from Topeka, Kan., plans to demonstrate at Matt's funeral. Rev. Fred Phelps of the Wesboro Baptist Church issured faxes Monday condemning the victim, Matt Shepard, for being gay. In a telephone in terview, an agitated Phelps said he didn't care that his planned demonstration would upset those who attend Matt's funeral. The fax displayed examples of "preaching" signs the church say they plan to show at the demonstration, some of which read "God hat es fags," "No tears for queers," and "Fag Matt in hell."

"What ought to make that family sad is the fact that they frittered away the opportunity to raise up a child in the nurturihg admonition of the Lord," said the 67-year-old misister, a well-known anti-gay activist in Kansas, where demonst rations outside funerals are outlawed." Of course, here in wonderful Wyoming we don't have such a law!

Hating the sin and loving the sinner makes great political and religious rhetoric.  But it's a distinction that fails to be made every day across America and, in particular, one cold night in Wyoming. 
 

Tue Oct 13, 1998 - 12:00PM EDT - JEFFERSON REPORT EDITORIAL ON SHEPARD 
"The Jefferson Report" -- 10/13/98 
Hating The Sinner

Well, so much for hating the sin and loving the sinner. It seems that Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney weren't able to make this religious and intellectual distinction when they abducted a gay college student last week by pretending they were also gay.  The two allegedly pistol-whipped the student, Matthew Shepard, tied him spread-eagle to a fence, tortured him and bashed his skull with the butt of a handgun before leaving him to die in the freezing Wyoming night.

If this description of how Shepard was killed doesn't just scream "hating the sinner" nothing does.  But then again, the two who are accused of the murder don't appear to be shining examples of America's youth who can appreciate the distinction between a person and a person's behavior.

Both are high school dropouts.  One lives with his girl friend and the other has fathered a child with his 18-year old girl friend.  Even committing a less serious crime seemed to be acceptable to the two men since, according to one of the girl friends involved, the men simply set out to rob Shepard of his money because they thought he had made a pass at one of them the night before in a bar.  

Hating the sin and loving the sinner makes great political and religious rhetoric. But it's a distinction that fails to be made every day across America and, in particular, one cold night in Wyoming. 

(For a FREE e-mail subscription to "The Jefferson Report", a syndicated daily radio commentary, send "subscribe" message to Robert Jefferson at Jeffreport@scsn.net.  Reprint with permission only.  Visit "The Jefferson Report" web page: http://www.jeffersonreport.com/) 
 

Tue Oct 13, 1998 - 1:30AM EDT - WYOMING GOVERNOR MAKES DISTURBING STATEMENTS RE: HATE CRIME LAW SUPPORTERS 
The Governor of Wyoming, Jim Geringer, has vacillated over the last few days as to whether he does or does not support passing hate crimes legislation as a results of Matthew's brutal assault and murder.  ABC News said tonight with regards to a hate crime law, "the governor says he's still not convinced the state needs one."  The governor was then shown on camera apparently commenting on those who support the adoption of hate crimes laws: "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."  A statement from the governor's office, in which he again criticizes hate crimes laws, is located below.  The governor's email address is: <Governor@missc.state.wy.us>. 
 

Mon Oct 12, 1998 - 11:50PM EDT - HOMECOMING PARADE MOCKS SHEPARD 
According to the Associated Press, Colorado State University officials are investigating how a scarecrow that mocked homosexuals showed up on a homecoming parade float while a gay man lay dying in a local hospital. The parade took place Saturday. That same day, Matthew Shepard lay dying in Poudre Valley Hospital five miles across town.  The bicyclists who found Matthew at first mistook him for a scarecrow.  The scarecrow appeared on a float sponsored by Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and Alpha Chi Omega sorority. Nicholas Haws, homecoming chairman for Pi Kappa Alpha, said the scarecrow was supposed to be in the uniform of the Tulsa University's Golden Hurricane, Colorado State's opponents in Saturday's football game.  He said someone vandalized the float Friday night, pinning a sign saying ``I am Gay'' and an anti-gay epithet on the figure.  He said the scarecrow was removed but someone placed it back on the float prior to Saturday's parade.  
 

Mon Oct 12, 1998 - 11:45PM EDT - NOTE FROM ELLEN DEGENERES' MOM 
There will be a vigil on the steps of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Oct. 14, at 6 p.m. to honor Matthew Shepard.  

Betty DeGeneres wrote: 
Anne, Ellen and I are flying there for it and want as many people as can possibly get there to take part -- gay people, straight people, families -- everyone with love and acceptance of their fellow man in their hearts. This is to honor the brief life of Matthew Shepard.   
Thanks,  Betty DeGeneres               
 

Mon Oct 12, 1998 - 11:40PM EDT - CLINTON STATEMENT ON SHEPARD 
THE WHITE HOUSE 
Office of the Press Secretary 
For Immediate Release  
October 12, 1998 

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT 
UPON DEPARTURE FOR NEW YORK 
The South Lawn 
3:02 P.M. EDT 

Let me also take a moment here to offer my prayers and my condolences to the family of Matthew Shepard, as well as to the community of Laramie, Wyoming and the university.  While it wouldn't be proper for me to comment on the specifics of this case I do want to say again, crimes of hate and crimes of violence cannot be tolerated in our country.  In our shock and grief one thing must remain clear, hate and prejudice are not American values.  The public outrage in Laramie and all across America today echoes what we heard at the White House Conference on Hate Crimes last year -- there is something we can do about this, Congress needs to pass our tough Hate Crimes Legislation.  It can do so even before it adjourns and it should do so.  

I hope that in the grief of this moment for Matthew Shepard's family, and in the shared outrage across America, American's will once again search their hearts and do what they can to reduce their own fear and anxiety and anger at people who are different.  And I hope that Congress will pass the Hate Crimes Legislation.  
 

Mon Oct 12, 1998 - 11:00PM EDT - MATTHEW'S FUNERAL, FINAL HEALTH SUMMARY, FAMILY STATEMENT 
Monday, October 12, 1998  
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
MATTHEW SHEPARD MEDICAL UPDATE for 10:30 a.m. October 12, 1998  
NOTICE: The funeral service date has changed due to new information. 

Funeral arrangements have been made for Matthew Shepard. Services will be held at Saint Mark's Episcopal Church in Casper, Wyoming on Friday, October 16th at 1:30 p.m. Family and friends will be given priority seating and others will be accommodated as space permits. No further information is available at this time. 
       # 
MATTHEW SHEPARD MEDICAL UPDATE for 4:30 a.m. October 12, 1998  

The following information was released by Rulon Stacey, CEO and president of Poudre Valley Hospital, at a press conference at 4:30 a.m. October 12 at the hospital.  

At 12 midnight on Monday, October 12, Matthew Shepard's blood pressure began to drop. We immediately notified his family who were already at the hospital.  

At 12:53 a.m. Matthew Shepard died, his family was at his bedside.  

Summary:  
Matthew arrived at 9:15 p.m. Wednesday, October 7, in critical condition.  
Matthew remained in critical condition during his entire stay at Poudre Valley Hospital.  
During his stay, efforts to improve his condition proved to no avail.  
Matthew died while on full life support measures.  
Funeral arrangements are pending, and we will announce those arrangements on our website as soon as they are available at www.pvhs.org, under the PVHS NEWS toolbar. Please do not call the hospital for this information; we will post the information on this web site as soon as we find out.  

The family did release the following statement, "We would like to thank the hospital for their kindness, professionalism, sympathy, and respect for the needs of our family under this stressful time. We will always be grateful for their concern for Matthew."  

The family again asked me to express their sincere gratitude to the entire world for the overwhelming response for their son. During the last 24 hours we have received nearly 2000 e-mails from every continent, and, our Website, which normally receives 100 hits a day, received thousands of hits on Saturday and Sunday. We will continue to forward to the family any e-mail we receive. The e-mail address is mshepard@libra.pvh.org.  

The family has again asked that no flowers be sent but rather that people send donations to the Matthew Shepard memorial fund at:  

c/o First National Bank  
PO Box 578  
Fort Collins, CO 80522  
Account No. 1926083  

The family was grateful they did not have to make a decision regarding whether or not to continue life support for their son. Like a good son, he was caring to the end and removed guilt or stress from the family.  He came into the world premature and left the world premature.  Matthew's mother said, "Go home, give your kids a hug and don't let a day go by without telling them you love them."  Matthew's family is so grateful that his last words to them were, "I love you." This was said when the family went to Saudi Arabia where they work for an oil company.  
 

Mon Oct 12, 1998 - 10:20PM EDT - NATIONAL GAY GROUPS PLAN EVENT AT US CAPITOL BUILDING 
GLAADLINES 
Contact:  Liz Tracey, GLAAD Publications Manager 
(212) 807-1700 x18 
tracey@glaad.org 
http://www.glaad.org 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 12, 1998 
News and Breaking Stories about the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community 
SPECIAL GLAADLINES EDITION ON THE DEATH OF MATTHEW SHEPARD 

DEATH OF WYOMING MAN SPURS RENEWED FIGHT FOR HATE CRIMES LEGISLATION: The death of Matthew Shepard, the 21-year-old University of Wyoming student who sustained massive injuries in a brutal attack last week, has galvanized the lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender community in seeking hate crimes legislation that covers bias crimes based on sexual orientation and identity. Shepard, who was found October 7 after nearly 20 hours of being tied to a fence and left to die, had been beaten, bludgeoned and slashed and was hospitalized in Fort Collins, Colorado's Poudre Valley Hospital until his death on October 12. Shepard  was allegedly targeted in a bar popular among gay men by 21-year-old Russell Arthur Henderson and 20-year-old Aaron James McKinney. 

A press conference will be held tomorrow, October 13, 1998 at 12:30 p.m. on the steps of the Albany County courthouse in Laramie, Wyoming, to call for hate crimes legislation which would enable prosecutors to seek substantial additional penalties when charging those who commit crimes motivated by bias. Among those attending the conference will be Wyoming State Rep. Wende Barker, Cathy Renna, GLAAD Director of Community Relations, and Dan Hawes, Field Organizer for the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force. 

GLAAD executive director Joan M. Garry pointed out that Shepard's murder took place on the heels of the announcement by the Center For Reclaiming America and the Family Research Council that they would be launching a series of television ads building on their anti-gay newspaper campaign this summer, which promised "hope and healing." Speaking about the Wyoming incident, Garry observed, "If you think homophobic advertisements like those which ran in our newspapers this summer are devoid of repercussions - think again. These ads give people permission to hate." 

On Wednesday, October 14,  at 7:00 p.m., the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), National Lesbian and Gay Task Force (NGLTF) and GLAAD, as well as entertainment figures Helen Hunt, Ellen DeGeneres, her mother Betty Degeneres and Elton John (not yet confirmed at press time) will join on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.. They will remember Matthew Shepard and renew the call for the passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act by Congress, which President Clinton first called for over a year ago. Elizabeth Birch, executive director of HRC, commented "There is nothing special about living a life free of violence and nothing right about opposing laws that would help remedy this situation. Those who oppose hate crimes legislation are either burying their heads in the sand or they simply don't care that thousands of gay and lesbian Americans are being harassed and brutalized each year." 

A website administered by Wired Strategies, a political Internet consulting firm, has been set up to serve as a clearinghouse for information and coverage of the murder of Matthew Shepard. Among the resources are an e-mail distribution list, an online discussion forum, summaries and transcripts of stories reported on the murder, and an extensive list of recent bias crimes committed against lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender 
individuals over the past year. The URL address is http://www.wiredstrategies.com/shepard.html . To subscribe to the e-mail list, send an e-mail to john@wiredstrategies.com with your e-mail address in the body of the message. 

For more information about the Wyoming press conference, contact Cathy Renna, GLAAD Director of Community Relations at (202) 957-8317. For information regarding the Washington D.C. press conference, contact Wayne Besen of the Human Rights Campaign at (202) 216-1580. For information about national and state hate crimes legislation and statistics contact Jeffrey Montgomery of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, at (313) 537-3323 or Tracey Conaty, Communications Director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, at (202) 332-6483 x3303.  

GLAAD is the nation's lesbian & gay multimedia advocacy organization. GLAAD promotes fair, accurate, and inclusive representation as a means of challenging discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity. To subscribe contact Wonbo Woo at (212) 807-1700 or at woo@glaad.org.  "GLAAD" and "Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation" are registered trademarks of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Inc. 
 

Mon Oct 12, 1998 - 10:00PM EDT - NATIONAL YOUTH ADVOCACY COALITION STATEMENT 
PRESS STATEMENT ON WYOMING ATTACK - National Youth Advocacy Coalition 

CONTACT: Rea Carey 
Executive Director 
1711 Connecticut Avenue, NW 
Suite 206 
Washington, DC  20009 
888/694-7172 (pager) 
202/319-7596, x15 (phone) 
rcarey@nyacyouth.org (email) 
____________________________________________________________ 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
October 10, 1998 

NATIONAL GAY YOUTH GROUP CALLS ON COUNTRY TO WAKE UP TO VIOLENCE FACED BY MATTHEW SHEPARD AND OTHER GAY YOUTH 
THIS WEEK'S WHITE HOUSE CONFERENCE ON SCHOOL SAFETY COMES AT IMPORTANT TIME 
  
The following statement is attributable to Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Youth Advocacy Coalition: 

"The National Youth Advocacy Coalition finds the attack on University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard brutish, disgusting and a frightening reflection of the violence faced by gay youth.  This horrendous beating, burning, and torture is one stop on the clear continuum of violence and harassment faced by our nation's young people.  Starting with name calling in elementary schools and ending in murder on our nation's streets and rural roads, the threats to safety for gay youth have been tolerated for far too long.  It is time our nation's leaders and communities took a stand against the extreme mistreatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth. 

Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer's call this week for hate crimes legislation is admirable but comes too late for Matthew Shepard.  Somewhere along the way, his attackers got the message that it is acceptable to beat, burn, and rob a young gay man.  Past opponents of the inclusion of 'sexual orientation' in hate crimes legislation argued that its passage would give 'special rights' to gays.  It seems to me that Matthew Shepard could have used any rights the night he was tied to a fence and beaten.  Anti-gay forces will have to be very creative in coming up with an argument for not passing hate crimes legislation next time around.  Their excuses will fall on angry ears.  It is time for the State of Wyoming and our country to right its past wrongs. 

This week, I will be attending the White House Conference on School Safety with other advocates for safe learning environments.  This conference comes at a critical time as our nation struggles with violent attacks on this country's students at the hands of their peers.  Although Matthew Shepard is a college student, his attack is, unfortunately, representative of the continuum of violence and harassment faced by gay youth beginning in grade school.  The National Youth Advocacy Coalition calls on our nation's decision-makers, the White House, and communities across the country to open their eyes to the day to day realities of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth.  Our country can not afford to lose one more life at the hands of homophobic youth and the laws, systems and beliefs that support them." 

FACTS ABOUT GAY YOUTH: 
* 80% of gay, lesbian and bisexual youth report verbal abuse (1) 
* 44% of gay, lesbian and bisexual youth report threats of attack (1) 
* 17% of gay, lesbian and bisexual youth have been assaulted (1) 
* 66.7% of gay, lesbian and bisexual youth were threatened/injured with a weapon at school in the past year  (2) 
* 20.1% of gay, lesbian and bisexual youth skipped school in the past month because of feeling unsafe on route to or at school (2) 
* 62.3 % of gay, lesbian and bisexual youth were in a physical fight in the past year (2) 

NOTES: 
(1) AR D'Augelli, HDFS, Pennsylvania State, University Park, PA, 16802.  (814)865-2649. 
(2) Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 1995. Conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

The National Youth Advocacy Coalition is the only national organization solely focused on advocacy,  education, and information addressing the broad range of issues facing gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth.  NYAC works to end discrimination against these young people and to ensure their physical and emotional well being.  NYAC represents the interests of GLBT youth and the over 500 organizations nationwide providing support services to GLBT youth. 
 

Mon Oct 12, 1998 - 7:40PM EDT - STATEMENT FROM JESUS RIOS, UNIV OF WY STUDENT PRESIDENT 
Friends and fellow students of the University of Wyoming ask for your support in remembering Matthew Shepard.  We have made and distributed over 3,000 yellow armbands with green circles in our community alone, and encourage every community to do the same.  It is to remember the tragedy which has occured on our campus, and to encourage the political fight which Matthew himself was a part of.  We ask that all institutions of higher education seek out all institutional policies to include equality on the basis of sexual orientation, and that they take an active role in educating students, faculty and staff.  We encourage all to write their congress and DEMAND that Hate-Crime legislation be written and passed.  We do not wish to make Matthew a martyr but we continue to fight for national support on these matters in his name and ask for your support! 

For those of you who have wondered what exactly Wyoming is all about or what they intend to do let me inform you of the following.  First, this incident is not typical of Wyoming mentality.  We have been scrutinized by some on not being "The Equality State," but this is merely perceptual.  Wyoming maintains its vigilant standards for acceptance and equality, despite perceptions.  Now as for what we are doing. 

The University of Wyoming students are fully supporting the (LGBTA) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender association in their events this current week. We have planned vigils, a remembrance ceremony to be held today in light of his death, and a funeral service to be held on campus early next week.  The President of the University has ordered the campus flag to be flown at half-mast till his funeral service.  We continue to plan for education seminars to be held in classes through out the week and weeks to come.  We are also in the process of writing a resolution to encourage the State to enact Hate-Crime legislation.  Any other concerns or questions that anyone may have can contact the ASUW Student Govt. office at 766-5204, or Jesus Rios, the ASUW President at ASUWPRES@uwyo.edu.  Thank you for caring about Matthew Shepard and for his cause. 
 

Mon Oct 12, 1998 - 6:55PM EDT - LAMBDA LEGAL DEFENSE FUND SPEAKS OUT 
LAMBDA LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATION FUND 
www.lambdalegal.org 

Statement 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, October 12, 1998 
Contact:  Peg Byron 212-809-8585 x230, 888-987-1984 (pager) 

Tragic Death of Gay Wyoming Student Begs for End to Hatemongering 
Oldest and largest gay legal group says anti-gay discrimination fuels violence 

(NEW YORK, October 12, 1998) -- Responding to the death of Matthew Shepard on Monday, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund said anti-gay violence goes hand in hand with the hatemongering  and prejudice commonly voiced by anti-gay extremists, including some public officials around the country.  

"This University of Wyoming student was beaten and left to die, tied to a fence like an animal, because he was honest and open about being gay.  Matthew Shepard's horrible suffering and death cannot be dismissed simply as the fault of deranged, isolated individuals.  His attackers are among millions of Americans who constantly hear the message that gay people are not worthy of the most basic equal treatment," said Lambda Legal Director Beatrice Dohrn.  

"By simply being ourselves and saying there's nothing wrong with us because we are gay, we risk everything --- from our lives to our jobs or custody of our children.  The first step in ending this kind of violence, which took Matthew's life, is to end anti-gay discrimination and the hostility that it fosters. 

"For example, with the Military's 'don't ask, don't tell,' the United States government continues to insist that troops cannot be expected to accept service members who are openly gay," Dohrn said.  

"In Hawaii, and elsewhere in the country, Lambda also is fighting for the freedom for gay couples to marry and for basic respect for our families.   At the U.S. Supreme Court, Lambda is urging an end to a sweeping anti-gay initiative from Cincinnati, that was supported by some of the same extremist groups now promoting anti-gay newspaper and television advertisements around the country." 

Noting that reported anti-gay violence last year increased a dramatic 34 percent at schools and colleges, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, Dohrn said,  "In Utah, Lambda continues a court battle with school officials who actually refuse to allow students at a Salt Lake City school to organize against anti-gay brutality and harassment."  

"Gaybashers do not make subtle distinctions between calls for anti-gay discrimination and anti- gay violence," Dohrn said, adding, "It is well past time for public officials and extremists to take responsibility for the hurt they promote against gay people and to join us in seeking equal treatment for 
all."   
 

Mon Oct 12, 1998 - 6:10PM EDT - GLAAD, NGLTF AND LOCAL GROUPS TO HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE 
GLAAD 
MEDIA ADVISORY 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Contact: Mike Massie, Wyoming State Representative (D-Laramie) - phone: (307) 766-5096 
Cathy Renna, GLAAD Director of Community Relations - cell: (202) 957-8317 - pager: (917) 240-3710 

LOCAL AND NATIONAL GROUPS CALL FOR HATE CRIME LEGISLATION FOLLOWING BRUTAL WYOMING MURDER 

PRESS CONFERENCE TO PRECEDE PRELIMINARY HEARING OF SUSPECTS 

LARAMIE, WY, MONDAY, OCTOBER 12, 1998-On Tuesday, October 13, Wyoming State Representative Wende Barker (D-Laramie); spokespersons from statewide and national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations including the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF); and a close friend of Matthew Shepard, who died early this morning after having been viciously attacked, stabbed, burned and left for dead last week in an anti-gay attack, will speak out on the desperate need for hate crimes legislation on the state and federal levels. The press conference will be held just prior to the preliminary hearing of the alleged attackers at the Albany County Courthouse.  

"Because of homophobic attitudes, every attempted bias crime bill so far to be proposed in the state legislature has been blocked," said State Representative Mike Massie (D-Laramie). "The viciousness of the attack on Matt clearly shows how critical this kind of legislation is. The attack was fueled by the kind of ignorance and intolerance that we as Americans must condemn in the strongest terms possible."  

Matt's close friend Hauva Manookin added, "As devastated as we are by this tragedy, we know this embodies Matt's commitment to justice and human rights. I hope that hate crimes legislation will be passed so that some sense can come from this tragedy."  

WHO:  
Wyoming State Representative Wende Barker, Walt Boulden of United Gays and Lesbians of Wyoming, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Field Organizer Dan Hawes, GLAAD Director of Community Relations Cathy Renna and University of Wyoming Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Association Treasurer Hauva Manookin 

WHAT:  
Press conference of statewide and national organizations on the desperate need for state and national hate crime legislation. 

WHEN:  
Tuesday, October 13, 1998 at 12:30 p.m.  

WHERE:  
Albany County Courthouse, Grand Ave. between 5th and 6th Sts. (Laramie) Courthouse Rotunda, 2nd Floor 

For more information about hate crimes legislation, please visit the website of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), located online at: http://www.ngltf.org, or contact Tracey Conaty, NGLTF Communications Director at (202) 332-6483 x3303.  
 

Mon Oct 12, 1998 - 5:30PM EDT- HRC STATEMENT ON MATTHEW'S DEATH 
WYOMING GAY BASHING VICTIM MATTHEW SHEPARD PRONOUNCED DEAD     
HRC Mourns The Loss Of Brave Student Who Stood Up To Intolerance     
   
WASHINGTON --   Matthew Shepard, 21, the gay University of Wyoming student who was savagely attacked Thursday night, burned, and left to die for up to 18 hours tied to a wooden fence outside Laramie, 30 miles northwest of Cheyenne, was pronounced dead this morning.   
        "With a profound sense of sorrow we mourn the death of Matthew Shepard. We are deeply saddened by this tragedy and we offer our thoughts and prayers to the Shepard family," said HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch. 
        Shepard died while on life support.  He had been in a coma since he was found on Thursday by passing motorcyclists.  Wyoming's Republican Governor Jim Geringer called on state legislators to adopt laws to deter crimes against lesbians and gay men. 
        "We are calling on all the people to have a renewed discussion to find out what we might do to strengthen our laws.  I'm open to any suggestion that we might bring to our legislature," said  Gov. Geringer to the Associated Press.        
         Two men, Russell Arthur Henderson, 21, and Aaron James McKinney, whose age is unconfirmed, were charged with kidnaping aggravated robbery, and attempted first degree murder and held on $100,000 bond.  University of Wyoming student, Chastity Vera Pasley, 20  and Kristen Leann Price, 18, were charged as accessories to the crime.  Price was released on $30,000 bond and Pasely is still in jail in lieu of the same amount of money. 
        "Matthew was not very large, at 5'2" 110 pounds, but he had a big heart and was extremely brave.  He had the courage to live honestly and openly in less than ideal circumstances.  Unfortunately, like many gay men and lesbians, there is often a high price to pay for living a life of dignity and respect," said HRC political director Winnie Stachelberg.  
 

Mon Oct 12, 1998 - 5:13PM EDT - WYOMING GOVERNOR CRITICIZES HATE CRIMES LAWS 
The Governor of Wyoming released a statement today condemning Matthew's murder, then turned around and criticized hate crimes laws: "If hate is involved as a motive, it can make the penalty more severe. That helps little, if the victim is dead."  Wyoming is one of 8 states without a hate crime law.  And the idea behind hate crimes laws is not only to punish your murderer after you're dead, it's to send a message from the highest levels of government that hate crimes will not be tolerated, so that criminals and bigots get the message that such actions are wrong before they happen, hopefully avoiding them altogether.  Using the Governor's logic, one wonders whether we should criminalize murder at all, since it helps little to punish the criminal if the victim is already dead.  With such statements of "concern" coming from the highest office in Wyoming, Lord help the rest of Wyoming's gay community, and us all. 

Click here to email the governor and tell him your thoughts. 

The Governor's statement: 

STATE OF WYOMING  
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR  

JIM GERINGER 
GOVERNOR  STATE CAPITOL  
CHEYENNE, WYOMING   
  
For Release: October 12, 1998  Contact: Jimmy Orr 777.7437 
  
Comments by Governor Jim Geringer on the Matthew Shepard Incident 
I am deeply saddened to hear of Matthew Shepard's death. We all feel a sense of tragedy and disbelief that a human life could be taken in such a brutal way.  

We send our comfort and prayers to Matthew's parents, family and friends. May they find strength to carry on in spite of this terrible act. We now must find closure, to first assure that justice will be effectively carried out, and second to work with t he determination that there will not be a repeat of this incident in any fashion in Wyoming.  

The message that should go out is that no one is above the law, that no life or freedom should be taken simply by an act of prejudice. The young people charged must now realize that their lives are permanently changed. They have irreversibly altered the ir future, if indeed, they even have one.  

The overwhelming reaction of the people I've visited with is one of shock that such a brutal attack could happen in Wyoming. With the resulting national media reaction, Wyoming people are discouraged that all of us could be unfairly stereotyped by the ac tions of two very sick and twisted people.  

The magnitude of the national response indicates that this is an issue of concern all over America, but perhaps in a special way for Wyoming, because "Wyoming is What America Was." How will Wyoming handle the situation? Wyoming is still "The Last Best Place" and "The Equality State." Can we serve as a model on how to deal with brutality so that the rest of America can deal with its own insensitivity? Yes, we can. But how?  

Recalling the horror, rejecting terror, refusing to be drawn in by prejudice is not enough. If all we feel is outrage, we have no remedy. If we don't feel ashamed, we will not change. If we don't speak out for truth, we will not preserve it.  

In order to practice Wyoming's motto of "The Equality State," we must acknowledge each other's worth and dignity or we will lose our basic values. Friday's incident can serve as a remembrance of how not to act.  

But this is not just an issue over sexual orientation. This is about hate and misdirected values. Any taking of a life is wrong. Any act that would exert terrorism is wrong. Every spring I am asked to participate in a "Day of Remembrance" to memoriali ze the victims of the Holocaust of World War II, for those who fought for equality, who felt the rejection of prejudice. The memorial is always a look back at events that should never be repeated. It is also a look forward, with renewed commitment not only to fight against prejudice, hatred or intolerance, but also to practice equality.  

The terrible actions taken by the Hitler regime in Nazi Germany did not take place suddenly, as a single event. The German people and their public institutions slipped slowly but steadily into accepting, while not preventing, crimes against Jewish peopl e. Hatred begins in small incremental ways. How many times have each of us failed through words or actions to correct an injustice? How often do we stereotype people rather than acknowledge individual uniqueness?  

Unanswered criticism. Unchallenged accusations. Each becomes a tacit validation, a passive approval of a lie.  

Even the national reaction to Wyoming is in part a stereotype. The clamoring for Wyoming to pass a "hate crimes law" reflects a rush to judgement in itself. We can and will deal with this properly and on our own. Those who call for a nationally imposed remedy are misdirected.  

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.  

We should now make this an opportunity to remind each other of what went wrong in the past so that we might bring what is right to the future. We must never forget the tragedy of a discarded people, whether it be through extermination camps or by our own individual disregard for others.  

The issue in this case happens to be homosexuality, but hate knows no boundary. Any act that displays a lack of respect for human life is wrong. How should Wyoming deal with hate crime legislation? What are anti-bias or anti-hate laws?  

I've asked several proponents of hate crime legislation to describe where Wyoming's laws are deficient. What I've found is that most don't even know what Wyoming's laws are. The fact is, Wyoming laws are already quite strict. But we can and should pro vide for more options for local law enforcement and our judiciary so that we can deal with future situations.  

I read with interest Chuck Green's editorial in the Denver Post. He commented on what a hate crime law could include. Such laws don't make hate itself a crime, but they consider whether hate as a motivating factor in a crime, is an aggravating factor w hen the charges are brought and tried. If hate is involved as a motive, it can make the penalty more severe. That helps little, if the victim is dead. You can only impose capital punishment once. Hate though, could be considered as an aggravating circ umstance when a jury considers whether the death penalty is appropriate.  

Burn a cross on a black family's lawn, and it's more serious than setting their trash can on fire. Paint a swastika on a Jewish family's car, and it's more serious than painting a gang sign on a warehouse wall. Assault a homosexual because his sexual orie ntation offends you, and it's more serious than if you assaulted someone at the office. The difference is measured in motive, not in action. Hate is anarchy in a country that was founded on democracy.  
 

Mon Oct 12, 1998 - 3:00PM EDT - TELL CONGRESS "ENOUGH ALREADY!" 
The US Congress is refusing to pass legislation that would permit the FBI to investigate attacks against gays and lesbians such as the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard.  

The Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA), H.R.3081 and S.1529, would amend current federal law to include real Or perceived sexual orientation, gender, and disability so the FBI would be able to investigate and prosecute violent hate crimes against gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. Current law already allows investigation and Prosecution on the basis of race, religion, national origin and color, but doesn't include sexual orientation.  

Please email your US Senators and House Members and tell them to pass the federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H.R.3081 and S.1529) immediately - and don't forget to sign the email with your name and address (the Web links above will assist you in identifying and emailing your Member of Congress). Also, call the Congressional switchboard at 202/224-3121 and ask for your Member's office, then tell them to pass the Act as well.  Congress will likely close up for the year in the next few days - don't let them leave Washington without passing this bill in Matthew's name.  

Draft email:  

Dear XXXXX:  
    I am writing to urge you to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H.R.3081 and S.1529).  As you know, Matthew Shepard was brutally tied up, tortured, pistol-whipped and then left to die in Wyoming because he was gay.  Wyoming does not have a hate crimes law - and only 21 states and the District of Columbia include sexual orientation-based crimes in their hate crimes statutes.  
    The FBI may not have jurisdiction to investigate the Shepard case without passage of the Hate Crimes Act.  You can change that sad fact.  With hate crimes against gay men and lesbians on the rise last year, while crime overall decreased, it is imperative that Congress stand up to hate and violence and pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act now.  
      Thank you,  
      NAME AND ADDRESS  
 

Mon Oct 12, 1998 - 10:55AM EDT - UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING POSTS STATEMENTS TO WEB 
The University of Wyoming has posted new information on their home page regarding Matthew's death.  The information includes: a statement from the Candlelight Vigil for Matthew Shepard, Oct. 11, 1998; Statement by Philip L. Dubois, President, University of Wyoming; Statement by Jesus Rios, President, Associated Students - University of Wyoming; Statement by James Osborn, Chair, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered Association, University of Wyoming; and information regarding the Benefit Fund for Matthew Shepard.  I will review this information shortly and perhaps post some on this site. 
 

Mon Oct 12, 1998 - 10:11AM EDT - MATTHEW HAS DIED 
Monday October 12 9:39 AM EDT  

Gay Wyoming College Student Dies After Beating 
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (Reuters) - A University of Wyoming student savagely beaten in an apparent hate crime because he was gay died early Monday, a Colorado hospital said. 

Rulon Stacey, chief executive officer of the Poudre Valley Health System, told reporters Matthew Shepard, 21, died at 12:53 a.m. MDT (2:53 a.m. EDT) Monday. His family was at his bedside. 

Shepard had been breathing with the aid of a ventilator since being found last Wednesday night beaten and tied for some 18 hours to a wooden fence where he was left to die just outside Laramie, Wyoming, a small college town. 

He suffered a severe skull fracture and was burned in the attack. Police said the college student begged for his life. 

Shepard was found by a passing motorist who at first thought that the figure on a fence post was a scarecrow. 

He died of his injuries rather than being removed from life support by his parents, Stacey said. 

``They did not have to come to a point in the process where they were forced to make a decision. Life support remained with Matthew throughout the process,'' Stacey said. 

``In fact they said (as) the caring son that he was, he was able to remove from them the guilt or stress of having to make that decision,'' said the hospital administrator, nearly breaking into tears. 

His parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, flew to Colorado from Saudi Arabia where the father works in the oil industry. Stacey said the parents were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for their son. 

Two men are in custody for the attack and their girlfriends, who allegedly provided them an alibi and helped hide bloody clothes, have been charged as accessories after the fact. 

Police following the attack lodged attempted first-degree murder charges against the two men and said the charges could be upgraded. 

The attack on Shepard, who reportedly lived an openly gay life, was condemned by President Clinton and the governor of Wyoming as well as ordinary citizens who appeared at vigils in honor of the student. 

Police believe robbery as well as gay bashing was a motivation in the crime. 

Bill McKinney, the father of suspect Aaron McKinney, and Kristen Price, Aaron's girlfriend who was also charged in the case, have said the two men accused of the attack targeted Shepard because he had flirted with Aaron McKinney at a bar and embarrassed him, a published report said Sunday. 

The attack in Laramie, Wyoming, a small western town with a popular of 26,000, stunned residents and prompted calls for more anti-hate crime legislation. 

The hospital had been flooded with flowers and Rulon said messages from people came from around the world and were in the thousands.  
 

Mon Oct 12, 1998 - 12:43AM EDT - SUSPECT'S FATHER DENIES HATE CRIME 
Reuters reported on Sunday October 11 at 12:14AM that Bill McKinney, the father of murder suspect Aaron McKinney, denied that the attack on Matthew Shepard was a hate crime, arguing that Matthew "embarrassed" his son.  Doctors are saying that it is still too early to know if Matthew will recover.  McKinney's father say that Shepard "flirted" with his son at the bar where they met, and that this "embarrassed" his son.  Reuters also reported that Bill McKinney told ABC News that his son had confessed to the crime and didn't want to live [I watched ABC News tonight, taped the broadcast, and heard nothing of the sort.]  According to Reuters, "Bill McKinney told the newspaper there was no excuse for what his son is accused of doing, but said the attack did not warrant national attention."  McKinney was quoted as saying "Had this been a heterosexual these two boys decided to take out and rob, this never would have made the national news."   

Personal commentary from John of Wired Strategies: 
It is unclear to me how pistol-whipping, burning, torturing and then leaving a man to die, tied unconscious, spread-eagle, bleeding with a crushed skull in 30-degree weather for 12 hours is a normal proportionate reaction to being "embarrassed," even by, dare I say the word, a homosexual.  It is this kind of "he deserved it" attitude that led to Matthew's savage attack in the first place, and is a common staple of hate crime cases.  As for the father's assertion that 'had the victim been a heterosexual, the attack would have never made the news,' I have two responses.  First, his boy did not take someone out and "rob" them, he conducted a savage crucifixion-style lynching which, outside of the McKinney residence, would in fact likely make national news, even if done to a straight man.  Second, a friend of mine put it best, "had they done this to a heterosexual woman who had 'embarrassed' them in a bar, they'd be dead by now."  But for the grace of their pulverizing a gay man do they avoid vigilante justice.   

Sun Oct 11, 1998 - 11:10PM EDT - ABC INTERVIEWS GIRLFRIEND AND FATHER OF ASSAILANT 
ABC's World News Tonight, 6:30PM EDT - paraphrase of the broadcast, with exact quotes: 
Matthew Shepard, 21 years old, remains in critical condition, left for dead in a field.  Two men are under arrest, and their girlfriends have been charged as accessories.  One girlfriend, 18 year old Kristen Price (live-in girlfriend of accused killer Aaron McKinney) tells the story: "he (McKinney) had blood all over him".  She asked what happened, he replied he "thought maybe he had killed someone....He said he did not mean to do that to him."  According to Price, the two accused attackers were approached by Shepard in the bar, they were somehow "offended", and decided to rob him by pretending to be gay.  They lured him to their truck, drove him to a filed, tied him to a fence, and fractured his skull with a gun.  "He said that yeah, had beat him with the butt of the gun," the Price said, quoting McKinney.  "The thought of a gay guy approaching him and humiliating him....I guess it just set him off."  McKinney's father told ABC: "He's my son, I raised him better than that, or tried to." 

ABC then followed with a second story on hate crimes: 
Refer to hate crimes legislation, ABC opened the report by saying that "civil rights groups say these days, gays need that protection more than any other group."  22 states along with Washington, DC including sexual orientation in their hate crimes laws.  18 have hate crimes laws that exclude sexual orientation, and 8 have no hate crimes laws at all, including Wyoming.  Winnie Stachelberg with the Human Rights Campaign told ABC: "We're seeing an increase in hate crimes directed at the gay and lesbian community, and in fact not just an increase in the sheer numbers, but the intensity of the violence."  The President condemned the attack and called on lawmakers to pass a federal hate crimes bill.  Elizabeth Coleman of the Anti Defamation League said that: "Individuals who commit hate crimes against gay people think that what they're doing is expected by society." 
 

Sun Oct 11, 1998 - 11:10PM EDT - CNN REPORTS ON SHEPARD CASE 
CNN 5PM EDT Broadcast - Paraphrase of the report, with exact quotes noted: 
While condemning the attack, Wyoming's residents defended the state as a fair place.  21 year old Matthew Shepard was found twelves hours after he was beaten and tortured so badly, passerbys thought he was a scarecrow.  Two suspects have been charged, and at least one girlfriend is being treated as an accessory.  Matthew was tied with rope, tortured, and then his assailants attempted to kill him with the butt of a pistol.  According to a hospital spokesman, Matthew's skull was fractured from behind the head to the front of the right ear, compressing his skull into his brain.  Basically, the two guys pretended to be gay, and lured Matthew outside.  One Wyoming resident told CNN that "if you come to Wyoming and you're gay, you're looking for trouble."  Another resident countered: "Wyoming is not a hate crime state."  A third said: "Homophobia is a societal problem and we don't need to wait until something horrible happens for us to recognize its existence."  As a result of the attack, many have called for tougher hate crimes laws.  The family reports that there has been an overwhelming outpouring of support.  [The closing included footage of a candlelight vigil outside Matthew's hospital] "Outside the hospital, a vigil -- prayers for a young man, and a life brutalized by hate." 
 

Sun Oct 11, 1998 - 6:16PM EDT - NO CHANGE IN MATTHEW'S STATUS 
At 3:00PM Mountain Time the hospital announced that there was no change in Matthew's status, he remains in a coma with severe head injuries.  
 

Sun Oct 11, 1998 - 5:13PM EDT - GAY BASHING IN MICHIGAN 
Doug Bradley of Traverse City, Michigan told police he and a friend were walking down the street on Oct. 2 when two men starting yelling "faggot" and other expletives.  The men them followed them to his house and beat him up.  Bradley suffered a broken nose, cuts on his head and face and swollen lips.  The attackers were only charged with a misdemeanor because the prosecutor said he couldn't charge the men with a hate crime because  Michigan law does not cover homosexuality. 
 

Sun Oct 11, 1998 - 1:32PM EDT - NO CHANGE IN CONDITION/SEND MORE EMAIL 
As of 9AM Mountain time (11AM EDT), Matthew was still in critical condition. The hospital reports that they have already received 250 email get-wells for Matthew.  I think we can and should do better.  Please celebrate National Coming Out Day today by taking a moment and including Matthew in your thoughts -  email Matthew at <mshepard@libra.pvh.org>.  
 

Sun Oct 11, 1998 - 1:11AM EDT - SEND EMAIL TO MATTHEW AND HIS FAMILY 
The hospital has set up an email address for well-wishers to send messages to Matthew and his parents.  Please take a moment to let Matthew and his family know our thoughts are with them.  Matthew's email address is: <mshepard@libra.pvh.org>  
  

Sun Oct 11, 1998 - 1:11AM EDT - NEW DETAILS ON MATTHEW'S CONDITION 
Matthew Shepard Medical Update  
Saturday, October 10, 1998  
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------  
MEDICAL UPDATE   
October 10, 1998   

The following 9 p.m. October 10 medical update was given by Rulon Stacey, President and CEO of Poudre Valley Health System. This was distributed to members of the media present at the time at Poudre Valley Hospital and will be FAXed to reporters as they call until the next medical update is distributed at about 9 a.m. October 11.   

Since our last medical update at 3 p.m. October 10, Matthew Shepard has remained in critical condition.   

Matthew is in the surgical-neuro intensive care unit in our Regional Neuroscience Center located within the hospital. He remains in critical condition with severe head injuries. Respiratory support continues to be provided. He remains on a ventilator.   

Matthew came to us on October 7 from Ivinson Hospital in Laramie by way of ambulance. He was admitted in critical condition at approximately 9:15 p.m. October 7. When he arrived, he was unresponsive and breathing support was being provided.   
_________   

The following is medical information from Poudre Valley Hospital. It was released by Rulon Stacey at the medical update at 3 p.m. October 10.   

Matthew’s major injuries upon arrival consisted of hypothermia and a fracture from behind his head to just in front of the right ear. This has caused bleeding in the brain, as well as pressure on the brain. There were also approximately a dozen small lacerations around his head, face and neck.   

Matthew has a massive brain stem injury. The brain stem controls vital signs, such as heart beat, body temperature and other involuntary functions.   

Matthew’s temperature has fluctuated over the last 24 hours, ranging from 98 to 106 degrees. We have had difficulty controlling his temperature.   

Hospital actions have included the surgeon inserting an intraventicular drain into his brain to relieve pressure by draining spinal fluid. The drain remains in and functional.   

We are also continuing to control Matthew’s temperature. He remains on a ventilator which is assisting his breathing.   
__________   

Well-wishers have also sent many flowers to Matthew. Again, the parents extend their sincere thank you.   

The parents ask that, in lieu of sending flowers, people contribute to a fund that was set up October 9 in Matthew’s name. Donations can be sent to:   

Fund for the Benefit of Matthew Shepard   
c/o First National Bank   
P.O. Box 578   
Fort Collins, CO 80522   
Account No. 1926083.   
__________   

Matthew’s current medical condition and selected information from this web site are also recorded on voice mail: (970) 495-7032. We ask that people, including the media, rely on the web site and the voice mail to track Matthew’s condition.   
 
 
Sun Oct 11, 1998 - 1:11AM EDT - MATTHEW'S PARENTS ISSUE STATEMENT 
Matthew Shepard Medical Update 
Saturday, October 10, 1998 

Matthew’s parents arrived at 7 p.m. October 9 and are now at his bed side. The parents and other family members who are present strongly request no interviews with the media and they ask that their privacy is respected.  

The following statement from the parents was read to members of the media waiting outside of the hospital at 6 p.m. October 10. The parents chose not to read the statement, so it was read by Rulon Stacey, president and CEO of Poudre Valley Health System, at their request.  

"First of all, we want to thank the American public for their kind thoughts about Matthew and their fond wishes for his speedy recovery. We appreciate your prayers and good will, and we know they are something Matthew would appreciate, too.  

"Matthew is a very special person, and everyone can learn important lessons from his life. All of us who know Matthew see him as he is, a very kind and gentle soul. He is a strong believer in humanity and human rights. He is a trusting person who takes everybody at face value and he does not see the bad side of anyone.  

"His one intolerance is when people don’t accept others as they are. He has always strongly felt that all people are the same—regardless of their sexual preference, race or religion.  

"We know he believes that all of us are part of the same family called Humanity, and each and everyone of us should treat all people with respect and dignity, and that each of us has the right to live a full and rewarding life. That is one lesson which we are very certain he would share with you, if he could.  

"Matthew also feels strongly about family. He is a loving son, brother and grandson who has made our own lives much richer and fuller than what we would have experienced without him.  

"Matthew’s life has often been a struggle in one way or another. He was born prematurely, and he struggled to survive as an infant. He is physically short in stature but we believe he is a giant when it comes to respecting the worth of others. We know that he thinks if he can make one person’s life better in this world, then he has succeeded. That is a measure of success which Matthew has always pursued.  

"Matthew very much enjoys the outdoors and camping, and he has always loved acting in the theatre—he started acting in community theatre at the age of 5. Acting and the theatre arts are skills at which Matthew excels.  

"He knows he’s not the best athlete in the world but he has a very competitive spirit. One time he participated in the Wyoming State Games. He had a respectable finish in a running competition and then he decided to compete in a swimming event. He did this even though he knew he would likely finish last. Which he did. Afterwards, he acknowledged to us that he knew his chances of winning were far from good but he wasn’t going to let that stop him from trying. That’s Matthew’s lesson for all of us—it’s lesson that we hope everyone takes to heart.  

"Matthew has traveled all over the world. He speaks three languages: English, German and Italian. He loves Europe, but he also loves Laramie and the University of Wyoming. We feel that, if he was giving this statement himself, he would emphasize he does not want the horrible actions of a few very disturbed individuals to mar the fine reputations of Laramie or the university.  

"Finally, we would like to thank the sheriff’s department of Albany County, Wyoming, and Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins for their very professional efforts on Matthew’s behalf.  

"We also have a special request for the members of the media. Matthew is very much in need of his family at this time, and we ask that you respect our privacy, as well as Matthew’s so we can concentrate all of our efforts, thoughts and love on our son.  

"Thank you very much."  
__________  

Approximately two to three dozen calls have come into the hospital from people in Colorado and around the nation who have extended offers of donations and other support, such as legal and counseling support. The parents extend their very sincere thank you for these offers of support.  
 

Sat Oct 10, 1998 - 5:40PM EDT - GREAT STATEMENT FROM HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN  
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  
Saturday, October 10, 1998  
  
HRC CONDEMNS WYOMING HATE CRIME AND SAYS RELIGIOUS RIGHT'S ANTI-GAY RHETORIC CREATES CLIMATE CONDUCIVE TO VIOLENCE  

President Clinton Issues Statement Asking The Nation To Pray For Shepard Family And Urges America To Stand Together Against Violent Bigotry  
  
WASHINGTON --   HRC Education Director Kim I. Mills condemned the violent attack against Matthew Shepard and called for Congress to renew their efforts to pass national hate crimes legislation at a press conference today in Ft. Collins, Colorado.  The recent anti-gay political rhetoric by right wing organizations and members of Congress have created a climate where hate crimes are more likely to occur, according to the Human Rights Campaign.  
        "The savage beating and burning of Matthew Shepard did not occur in a vacuum.  Crimes such as these arise out of minds twisted and misinformed about lesbian and gay people.  The leaders of the most powerful religious political organizations -- some of which have headquarters right here in Colorado -- have made a strategic, political decision to target gays and lesbians," said Mills at the press conference.  
        President Clinton called the Shepard family today and released a statement denouncing the attack.  The Clinton administration has helped lead the on-going effort to pass federal hate crimes legislation. 
        "I was deeply grieved by the act of violence perpetuated against Matthew Shepard.  There is nothing more important to the future of this country than our standing together against intolerance, prejudice, and  violent bigotry.  It is not too late for Congress to take action before they adjourn and pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act.  By doing so, they will help make all Americans more safe and secure," said President Clinton in his statement. 
        Two men, Russell Arthur Henderson, 21, and Aaron James McKinney, whose age is unconfirmed, were charged with kidnaping aggravated robbery, and attempted first degree murder and held on $100,000 bond.  University of Wyoming student, Chastity Vera Pasley, 20  and Kristen Leann Price, 18, were charged as accessories to the crime.  Price was released on $30,000 bond and Pasely is still in jail in lieu of the same amount of money. 
        There are no hate crimes laws in Wyoming and efforts to pass a law have been rebuffed repeatedly because critics have claimed it would give gay Americans "special rights." 
        "There is nothing special about living life free of violence and nothing right about opposing laws that would help remedy this situation.  Those who oppose hate crimes legislation are either burying their heads in the sand or they simply don't care that thousands of gay and lesbian Americans are being harassed and brutalized each year," said HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch.  
         On Thursday night, Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student, was savagely attacked, burned, and left to die for up to 18 hours tied to a wooden fence outside Laramie, 30 miles northwest of Cheyenne.  When Shepard was found he was unconscious and his skull had been smashed with a blunt object; he also appeared to have substantial burns on his body and cuts on his head and face, his family said.  Two motorcyclists who found his body said he looked "like a scarecrow" because of the way he was positioned on the fence.  Shepard is now in critical condition in the intensive care unit at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado  where he remains unconscious and hooked up to a respirator.  He had twice been beaten recently and attributed those attacks to his openness about his sexuality, friends told the Associated Press.  Shepard's family is now with him at the hospital.  
        In July, both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees held hearings to amend current federal law to include sexual orientation, gender and disability and to expand federal law enforcement jurisdiction is an important step towards closing a loophole needed to assist Americans affected by hate motivated attacks. But since the hearings, there has been no movement on this legislation. The Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA), sponsored by Senators Kennedy (D-MA), Specter (R-PA), and Wyden (D-OR), and Representatives McCollum (R-FL) and Schumer (D-NY), would amend current federal law to include real or perceived sexual orientation, gender, and disability.  The amendment would enable the FBI to investigate and prosecute violent hate crimes against gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.  Current law already allows investigation and prosecution only on the basis of race, religion, national origin and color. 
        A study released in August by Dr. Karen Franklin, a forensic psychologist at the Washington Institute for Mental Illness Research and Training, suggests that harassment and hate crimes against gay students by their peers is commonplace.  According to the study, nearly one-quarter of community college students who took part in this survey admitted to harassing people they thought were gay.  Among men, 18 percent said they had physically assaulted or threatened someone they thought was gay or lesbian.  And 32 percent admitted they were guilty of verbal harassment.  
            Hate crimes committed against gays, lesbians, and bisexuals make up the third-highest category of hate crimes reported to the FBI, currently representing 11.6% of all hate crimes reported.  Only 21 states and the District of Columbia include sexual orientation-based crimes in their hate crimes statutes. While states continue to play the primary role in the prosecution of hate violence, the federal government must have jurisdiction to address those limited cases in which local authorities are either unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute. 
        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.  
 

Statement of Kim I. Mills 
Education Director, Human Rights Campaign Oct. 10, 1998 
     The savage beating and burning of Matthew Shepard did not occur in a vacuum. Crimes such as these arise out of minds twisted and misinformed about lesbian and gay people. 
     Crimes such as these are not isolated -- unfortunately. At the Human Rights Campaign~ we learn weekly, if not daily, of terrible acts committed against our fellow citizens merely because they are gay -or even because they are perceived to be gay or lesbian. 
     Right now, we are living through a period of extreme and concentrated anti-gay backlash. The leaders of the most powerful religious political organizations -- some of which have headquarters right here in Colorado -- have made a strategic political decision to target gays and lesbians.  These groups include Focus on the Family and its political offshoot, the Family Research Council; the Christian Coalition; Coral Ridge Ministries; and a host of others. 
     Make no mistake; this campaign against gay people is not about religion or redemption or any of those other "spiritual" terms they might use in their advertising or public relations. They are looking for wedge issues that will help them elect more staunch religious political conservatives at all levels of government. If this were truly a religious campaign, why did these men and women go to Capitol Hill last spring and meet with the Republican leaders of the House and Senate? Why did they threaten our national leaders with a loss of support if they refused to follow the ultra-conservative religious political agenda? 
     And they were successful. Shortly after their meeting on Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott went on television to say gay people are sinners and that we are sick. He likened us to alcoholics, sex addicts and kleptomaniacs. 
     Just this week, in Washington, D.C., these same religious political activist groups unveiled a television advertising campaign purporting to offer people a way out of homosexuality" through prayer. This comes on the heels of a national newspaper print advertising campaign with the same message. They have already spent half a million dollars. We should all fear to learn how much more they are willing to spend because -- as you in Colorado well know -- their pockets are deep. 
     The results of campaigns like this are terrifying. The ultimate victims of their message are people like Matthew Shepard  people who happen to step into the paths of individuals who are swayed by the messages of such ads and by the climate of intolerance that they are fostering. Wearing the cloak of "Christian charity," these ads proclaim that lesbians and gays are defective, that being gay is a bad thing that we can and should change. 
     Because these messengers are wolves in "Christian" clothing, some of the people hearing these messages doubtless believe they are being given a "biblical" dispensation to despise gays and lesbians. And the distance between that kind of hatred and overt violence is far too short. Ask the thousands of people who are the targets every year of anti-gay hate crimes. I would tell you to ask Matthew Shepard, but you cannot. 
     So why did I come all the way from Washington to talk to people in Colorado today? Because the terrible news of what happened to Matthew Shepard is sweeping through a horrified gay community, a gay community already beleaguered by this period of backlash. I am here to say, "Enough." And I am here to say we need a federal law to help protect all Americans from hate crimes based on sexual orientation-- real or perceived. 
     There is no hate crimes law in Wyoming. And while I hope the people who tried to kill Matthew Shepard are punished to the full extent of the law, the law in this case is insufficient. Not only can they not face additional punishment because this was, in my view, a hate crime, they also face no federal penalty -- unlike people who commit hate crimes based on race,religion, national origin or disability. 
     Hate crimes based on sexual orientation are the third-highest category of all hate crimes reported to the FBI -- holding steady around 11 percent a year. 
     There is a bill in Congress now called the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. It would give the federal government the power to investigate crimes such as the one committed against Matthew Shepard.Until and unless that passes, they cannot intervene. We need this law. 
     Finally, let me close by noting that tomorrow is National Coming Out Day -- the day when the Human Rights Campaign urges all lesbian and gay people to be open about ourselves  and here is the terrifying story of a young man who tried to live an openly gay life, only to suffer the most horrific of consequences. Matthew Shepard tried to live that example, and now he has become an example of how dangerous it still is to be a lesbian or gay person in America at the turn of this century. I hope and pray that this example will not drive gay people back into the shadows -- where the religious right would prefer we live. Rather, he should become a clarion call to every  fair-minded person in this nation to stop this climate of hate, to stamp out anti-gay bigotry wherever they see it. 
     Thank you. 
 

Sat Oct 10, 1998 - 3:26PM EDT - PRESIDENT CLINTON ISSUES STATEMENT 
"I was deeply grieved by the act of violence perpetrated against Matthew Shepard of Wyoming.  

The Justice Department has assured me that local law enforcement officials are proceeding diligently to bring those responsible to justice. And I am determined that we will do everything we can and offer whatever assistance is appropriate.  

Hillary and I ask that your thoughts and your prayers be with Mr. Shepard and his family,  and with the people of Laramie, Wyoming.  In the face of this terrible act of violence, they are joining together to demonstrate that an act of evil like this is not what our country is all about.  In fact it strikes at the very heart of what it means to be an American and at the values that define us as a Nation. We must all reaffirm that we will not tolerate this.  

Just this year there have been a number of recent tragedies across our country that involve hate crimes.  The vicious murder of James Byrd last June in Jasper, Texas and the assault this week on Mr. Shepard are only among the most horrifying examples.  Almost one year ago I proposed that Congress enact the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Our Federal laws already punish some crimes committed against people on the basis of race or religion or national origin, but we should do more.  This crucial legislation would strengthen and expand the ability of the Justice Department to prosecute hate crimes by removing needless jurisdictional requirements for existing crimes and by giving Federal prosecutors the power to prosecute hate crimes committed because of the victim's sexual orientation, gender, or disability. All Americans deserve protection from hate.  

There is nothing more important to the future of this country than our standing together against intolerance, prejudice, and violent bigotry.  It is not too late for Congress to take action before they adjourn and pass The Hate Crimes Prevention Act.  By doing so they will help make all Americans more safe and secure." 
 

Sat Oct 10, 1998 - 3:15PM EDT - HOUSE DEM. LEADER GEPHARDT ISSUES STATEMENT 
"My thoughts and prayers today are with Matthew Shepard and his family.  I was sickened to learn of the brutal attack Matthew suffered -- an attack at the hands of people whose apparent motive was that he is a gay man.  

This heinous crime deserves the condemnation of all Americans.  Hate crimes such as this and the June murder of James Byrd in Texas are violent acts motivated by intolerance and hatred.  I trust that those responsible for this horrendous attack will be prosecuted and punished to the full extent of the law and firmly believe that we must pass the tough hate crimes legislation pending in the Congress to help stop these despicable acts." 
 

Sat Oct 10, 1998 - 12:43PM EDT  - LOTS OF ARTICLES IN DENVER POST 
Today's Denver Post has a slew of articles on the Shepard attack - best to visit the site and read the articles first hand.   

I include one story that is so good, I had to reprint it: 

Gay bashing is a hate crime 
By Diane Carman, Denver Post Staff Columnist  
      Arthur Dong is a gay man who has experienced more than one beating at the hands of homophobic psychopaths. In 1996, he decided to fight back. Video camera in hand, Dong entered the belly of the beast.  
     What he found was even more horrible than he imagined.  
     Dong won an award at the Sundance Film Festival for his 1997 documentary, "Licensed to Kill,'' which features a series of prison interviews with seven men convicted of murdering gay men.  
     The movie, which screened in Denver last year, allows the murderers to tell their own stories. Some of them had come to realize the severity of their crimes. Some remained unrepentant. Some even recalled their crimes with pride. 
     But in many ways the most revealing aspect of the film is that it illustrates how a culture that ridicules, dehumanizes and demonizes homosexuals bears shameful responsibility for these crimes.  
     The verbal taunts and persecution of people because of their sexual orientation are so commonplace they set the stage for murderers who think it's no crime to hate gays and to act on that hate.  
     In our culture, the victim of gay bashing is considered the sinner. That's why so often the crimes against homosexuals go unpunished until someone is found beaten, burned and tied to a fence post outside of town.  
     The attack this week on Matthew Shepard, the 21-year-old gay University of Wyoming student, is unusual only in its level of savagery. Since hate crimes laws in Colorado and 28 other states do not cover crimes against homosexuals, vast numbers of these crimes go unreported. Still, FBI data indicate that 11.6 percent of all hate crimes nationally target gays. It's the third largest category of hate crimes reported to the bureau.  
     In June, when the story of the vicious racially inspired murder of James Byrd Jr. of Jasper, Texas, was reported, it horrified Americans. Attorney General Janet Reno called for an investigation to see if federal civil rights laws had been violated. The U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously to send "heartfelt condolences'' to Byrd's family.  
     There was no argument about what constitutes a hate crime, only collective shame and grief.  
     That same level of compassion does not exist for the Shepard family. Once again, there will be a chorus screaming "special rights'' when the subject of gay bashing being punished as a hate crime arises. But near as anybody can tell, the opportunity to be threatened, humiliated and to live in fear of being beaten to death is the only "special right'' our culture bestows on homosexuals.  
     If you listened to the opponents of laws designating gay bashing as a hate crime, you'd think there really was some fundamental difference between being a black man, who is beaten and dragged behind a truck, and being a gay man, who is beaten, his skull crushed, and left tied to a fence to die.  
     The only real difference is the epithet the killers use to describe the victim.  
     The one used for the black man is considered an obscenity so appallingly offensive, it can't be printed in most newspapers.  
     The one used for the gay man is a common expression. It's familiar in comedy routines, on elementary school playgrounds and on street corners all across America.  
     Diane Carman's commentaries appear here Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. 
E-mail: dicarman@aol.com  
 

Sat Oct 10, 1998 - NEW YORK TIMES ON SHEPARD CASE 
Nothing really new in this piece from the New York Times
 

Sat Oct 10, 1998 - 7:12AM EDT - SHEPARD'S CONDITION UPDATES ONLINE 
Matthew Shepard Condition Update 
Poudre Valley Health System 
Fort Collins, Colorado 
http://www.pvhs.org/new/index.html 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
October 7, 1998  
Matthew Shepard, 21, was transported to Poudre Valley Hospital from Invinson Hospital in Laramie, Wyoming. He arrived on 10/7/98 at approximately 9:15 p.m.. When he arrived he was unresponsive and breathing support was being provided. Matthew Shepard was admitted to the surgical-neuro intensive care unit at Poudre Valley Hospital.  
 

October 8, 1998 Noon  
Matthew Shepard remains in critical condition with severe head injuries. Respiratory support continues to be provided. He remains on a ventilator.  

The family requests no interviews with the media, and asks that you respect their privacy.  
Calls have come into the hospital from people who have extended offers of donations and support. The hospital will pass this information on to the family. The support is greatly appreciated.  
The next medical update will be at 3 p.m. in the circle drive on the west side of the hospital.  
 

October 9 -- 3 p.m. Update 
There is no status change. The next medical condition update will be posted to the web site at 9 p.m. tonight and simultaneously on the voice mail listed below.  This website will be updated immediately if the patient's condition changes. We will also immediately inform the wire services.  
 

October 9 -- 9 p.m. Update 
This medical update is given by Rulon Stacey, President/CEO of Poudre Valley Hospital. 
There is no change in Matthew Shepard’s status since our 3 p.m. update today.  

Matthew came to us from Ivinson Hospital in Laramie by way of ambulance. He arrived on 10/7/98 at approximately 9:15 p.m.. When he arrived, he was unresponsive and breathing support was being provided.  He was admitted to the surgical-neuro intensive care unit where he remains in critical condition with severe head injuries. Respiratory support continues to be provided. He remains on a ventilator.  Matthew’s parents arrived this evening and are now at his bed side. The parents and other family members who are present strongly request no interviews with the media and they ask that their privacy is respected.  

About a dozen calls have come into the hospital from people in Colorado and around the nation who have extended offers of donations and support.  The parents extend their very sincere thank you for this support and the kind best wishes of people. The parents ask that in lieu of sending flowers people contribute to a fund that was set up today in Matthew’s name. Donations can be sent to:  

Fund for the Benefit of Matthew Shepard  
c/o First National Bank  
P.O. Box 578  
Fort Collins, CO 80522  
Account No. 1926083  

The next medical condition update will be at 9 a.m. Saturday. In addition, updates will be kept current throughout tonight and posted on this web site. The condition is also provided on voice mail: (970) 495-7032. We ask that people, including the media, rely on these two services if you need to track Matthew’s condition throughout the night.  

Note: A special voice mail telephone line has been set-up for condition updates. The voice mail will provide the same information listed here. The number is (970) 495-7032.  
 

Sat Oct 10, 1998 - SHEPARD BEGGED FOR HIS LIFE 
New in this Associated Press story: 
* The two men who beat and tortured a gay University of Wyoming student ignored his pleas that they spare his life, leaving him tied to a ranch fence, unconscious and barely breathing, investigators said Friday.  "During the incident the victim was begging for his life," said Albany 
County Judge Robert A. Castor, reading an arrest affadavit. 
* Shepard's family and friends hoped the brutal attack on Shepard would galvanize the state into passing a hate crime law. 
 * "It seems pretty obvious from the court proceedings that he was beaten and robbed because he was gay," said Terry Summers, a friend who is the executive director of the Fort Collins-based gay support group LAMBDA. "It's sad to say, that Wyoming has no hate crime laws." 
* Officials said Shepard was pistol-whipped with a .357 Magnum, which was later 
recovered. 
* Several national gay and lesbian groups denounced the attack and said Wyoming's failure to adopt a law against hate crimes may have led the perpetrators to believe such acts might not be aggressively prosecuted. They also said a national campaign by conservative religious organizations targeting gays has made their lives more precarious. 
* Wyoming Gov. Jim Geringer said, "I am outraged and sickened by what appears to be a very heinous crime committed on Matthew Shepard."  Geringer said "hate crime legislation is needed ...." as well as tougher sentences for violent offenders. 
 

Sat Oct 10, 1998 - 2:40AM EDT - NGLTF ISSUES STATEMENT 
NATIONAL GAY AND LESBIAN TASK FORCE PRESS RELEASE 

Contact: 
Tracey Conaty, Communications Director 
202-332-6483 ext. 3303 
800-757-6476 pager 
tconaty@ngltf.org 

http://www.ngltf.org 
2320 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009 
*********************************************** 

TASK FORCE CONDEMNS SAVAGE BASHING; 
CHARGES RIGHT WING WITH INCREASE IN ANTI-GAY RHETORIC 

WASHINGTON, DC---October 9, 1998--- The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force condemned Tuesdayšs gay bashing in Laramie, Wyoming where a student was severely burned, beaten, and left to die. The Task Force linked the violence to an increased climate of anti-gay hostility and political attacks in nearby Fort Collins, the Wyoming legislature, and in the US Congress. 

"Anti-gay rhetoric and anti-gay violence go hand-in-hand," said Tracey Conaty, NGLTF communications director. "The right wing is creating the most hostile atmospheres for GLBT people in recent memory.  Hate violence is a logical extension of these rhetorical, legislative, and electoral attacks, " she added. 

Matthew Shepard, a 22-year-old political science student at the University of Wyoming, was found tied to a fence the day after having been left to die by his assailants. He had burns on his entire body and had been beaten so severely with a blunt object that his skull was crushed. He is on a respirator at a nearby hospital in Fort Collins, CO.  Shepard had been beaten recently and attributed the attack to his sexual orientation. In that attack, he suffered a broken jaw. 

The Task Force charges that right wing groups have fostered a climate conducive to such violence. This week in Fort Collins, Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, a right-wing opposition group ran a series of ads denouncing the measures and urging voters not to support "special rights" for homosexuals. A similar organization sponsored a forum with an "ex-gay" Spokesperson, which claimed sexual orientation can be changed, and therefore does not deserve inclusion in Fort Collinsš Human Rights Ordinance. 

Right wing forces in Wyoming have stymied passage of a hate crimes bill claiming it would give "special rights" to GLBT people. Nationally, right-wing organizations have hypocritically portrayed their anti-gay efforts as "compassionate and loving." In June, Senate majority leader Trent Lott compared homosexuality to kleptomania and sex addiction. Recent anti-gay measures in Congress were introduced while right-wing groups launched a major advertising campaign to "change" GLBT people.  Just yesterday, these groups announced a series of TV ads seeking to "reject homosexuality and go on to live healthy normal lives." 

The Task Force has documented a link between increases in anti-gay violence and the escalation of anti-gay rhetoric during ballot initiative campaigns. Immediately before Coloradošs Amendment 2 passed in 1992, Colorado activists documented a 129 percent increase in anti-gay assaults. In the two months following the vote, nearly 40 percent of the annual total was reported. Hattie Mae Cohen, a lesbian, and Brian Mock, a gay man, were killed when their home in Oregon was firebombed during that statešs 1992 ballot battle. In Maine in 1995, incidents of anti-gay violence jumped to 10 during the six months of an anti-gay initiative campaign in 1995, compared to four incidents for the entire previous year. 

"When anti-gay rhetoric escalates, so does anti-gay violence. Hate crimes are a result of that intolerance," continued Conaty. "No one should condone violence against any group of people, nor should they contribute to an atmosphere that fosters such intolerance and violence." 

A bill languishing in Congress, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, would make hate violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people and other minorities a federal crime. The Task Force urges Congress to swiftly pass this measure. 
________________________________________ 

Founded in 1973, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force works to eliminate prejudice, violence and injustice against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people at the local, state and national level. As part of a broader social justice movement for freedom, justice and equality, NGLTF is creating a world that respects and celebrates the diversity of human expression and identity where all people may fully participate in society. 
 

Sat Oct 10, 1998 - 2:39AM EDT - GLAAD ISSUES STATEMENT 
GLAAD MEDIA RELEASE 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Contact: 
 Jennifer Einhorn, Director of Communications 
phone: (212) 807-1700 x14 
e-mail: einhorn@glaad.org 
pager: (888) 656-9045 

Jeffrey Montgomery, NCAVP Steering Committee 
phone: (313) 537-3323 
e-mail: trijeffm@aol.com 

GLAAD AND NATIONAL COALITION OF ANTI-VIOLENCE PROGRAMS EXPRESS SORROW AND HORROR AT ATTACK ON GAY MAN IN WYOMING 
_______________________________________________________________ 

 "Hateful rhetoric fosters a fearful and intolerant environment--all the ingredients necessary for putting people in harms way. What Matt Shepard is going through is unthinkable.  That there are people who hate him for being open and honest about his life is unconscionable."  

-Joan M. Garry, GLAAD Executive Director 
_______________________________________________________________ 

NEW YORK, NY, THURSDAY, 9 OCTOBER, 1998 -- The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) today expressed their sorrow at the attempted murder of 22-year-old University of Wyoming student Matt Shepard, who was found on Wednesday night in Laramie near death and tied to a fence, after having been beaten, burned and slashed. Mr. Shepard, a junior studying political science at the university, had been attacked twice previously in recent weeks, once having his jaw broken.  

The report of the Wyoming attack comes one day after the Center for Reclaiming America and Coral Ridge Ministries held a joint press conference with the Family Research Council to announce a new series of anti-gay television advertisements, in the same vein as their previous campaign, which was placed in major newspapers this summer.  

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs condemned the attack as well. "We at NCAVP are all too familiar with the increasing violence facing the lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender community, and the increasingly vicious nature of these crimes," said NCAVP Steering Committee member Jeffrey Montgomery. "What happened to Matt Shepard may shock and horrify you, but something like it happens on a day to day basis in this country. What's worse, Wyoming has no hate crimes bill to protect victims and prosecute those who target them, because radical religious groups insisted it would extend 'special rights' to lesbians and gay men, who have become less than equal in their eyes. Is it a 'special right' to not be beaten into a coma because of who you are? Ask the victims of the thousands of anti-gay hate crimes...they're the ones who know."  

GLAAD Executive Director, Joan M. Garry continued, "We invite those who are so obsessed with the lives of lesbians and gay men to examine the tone and tenor of their remarks well before they issue them. Think of who will hear their words. Think of who will see these indelible images. If you think homophobic advertisements like those which ran in our newspapers this summer are devoid of repercussions--think again.  These ads give people permission to hate. They are inciteful vehicles.  They have a real impact on real people's lives."  

GLAAD is the nation's lesbian and gay media advocacy organization. GLAAD promotes fair, accurate and inclusive representation of individuals and events in all media as a means of combating homophobia and all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity.  

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) addresses the pervasive problem of violence committed against and within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive (LGBTH) communities. NCAVP is a coalition of programs that document and advocate for victims of anti-LGBTH violence/harassment, domestic violence, sexual assault, police Misconduct, and other forms of victimization. NCAVP is dedicated to creating a national response to the violence plaguing these communities. Furthermore, NCAVP supports existing anti-violence organizations and emerging local programs in the efforts to document and prevent such violence.  
 

Sat Oct 10, 1998 - 2:38AM EDT - ANTI-GAY HATE SPEECH AT MICHIGAN STATE 
On Wednesday, the Alliance of Lesbian-Bi-Gay and Transgendered Students painted the rock [a local landmark] in honor of National Coming Out Days, a celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. They woke Thursday morning to see the the rock had been repainted with anti-gay slurs. The front of the rock read “no packing zone.” Other slurs on the rock and garbage can next to it read “I kill fags,” “Kill flames,” and “Fags.”  
 

Sat Oct 10, 1998 - 1:29 AM EDT - SUMMARY OF NEWS STORIES TO DATE 
WIRED STRATEGIES 
Special Report: Gay Wyoming student clings to life 
Saturday, October 10, 1998 
1:30 a.m. EDT 

The University of Wyoming student paper, the Branding Iron, has published on its Web site a series of nine stories, and numerous photos, dealing with the attack on Matthew Shepard.  In addition the Washington Post Web site published a front page story on the case at midnight.  And a new Associated Press story was issued at 9:37PM EDT, Oct 9.  Details from all 11 stories have been compiled in the following brief update.  

A Brief Update - Summary of Recent Branding Iron, Washington Post, and Associated Press Articles 

At last report, Matthew Shepard remained in a coma, in critical condition, in Colorado - according to the hospital, he is on a ventilator.  "They're not expecting him to ever wake up," friends say.  His parents are  to arrive this evening from Saudi Arabia.  

His four accused attackers (two men), and accomplices (two women), were arraigned Friday in court, and remain in police custody.  According to reports, the two males befriended Shepard in a bar, told him they were gay, and lured him into their pick-up truck.  Shepard was subsequently attacked in the truck, then dragged to a field where he was tied to a fence post spread-eagle, beaten and burned, then left to die.  According to court documents, Shepard was "struck in the head with a pistol," and the suspects allegedly "beat him, while he begged for his life."  According to one report, Shepard received a 2-inch deep gash in his head, crushing his skull.  The temperature had dropped into the low 30s during the more than 12 hours Shepard was left outside.  The males then met up with the two female accomplices, who helped them dispose of their now-bloody clothing.  

Anti-gay epithets were reportedly used by the two young men who are accused of committing the crime, and friends say the attack was clearly an anti-gay hate crime.  Efforts to pass hate-crime legislation in Wyoming have failed repeatedly because critics have said it would give gays "special rights."  The conservative Family Research Council (FRC) -- which joined other religious right groups in announcing on Thursday a new round of anti-gay "ex-homosexual" TV ads -- released a statement Friday on Shepard's attack, echoing the arguments of previous hate crimes opponents.  FRC said in their statement that "'Hate crimes' laws skew the legal system and afford unequal protection by design" and that such laws create a "special status."  In contrast, Wyoming's Republican Governor, Jim Geringer, said he was "outraged and sickened" by the crime, and that the state needs to enact hate crime legislation.  

"He's a small person with a big heart, mind and soul that someone tried to beat out of him," said Matthew Shepard's uncle, R.W. Eaton. "Right now, he's in God's hands."  
 

Fri Oct 9, 1998 - 9:18PM EDT - SEND A CARD TO MATTHEW 
Courtesy of the Fenceberrys: 
If you would like to send a card to Matthew Shepard and wish him a full and speedy recovery after his terrible ordeal, you can mail it to: 
Matthew Shepard  
C/O Poudre Valley Hospital 
1024 S Lemay Av FORT COLLINS CO 80524 
The phone number for the hospital is (970) 495-7000 
 

Fri Oct 9, 1998 - 6:10PM EDT - FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL OPPOSES HATE CRIME LAWS 
WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Family Research Council today denounced an attack on a homosexual student in Wyoming.  "Although the motivation for the attack is not confirmed at this time, violently attacking a person is unconscionable, whatever the reason," said Robert H. Knight, Director of Cultural Studies at Family Research Council.  "It is indicative of a culture that has become inured to violence and has lost respect for the human person." 

The Associated Press reported that Matthew Shepard, a 22-year-old political science major at the University of Wyoming, was bludgeoned in the head with a "blunt object," burned and tied to a wooden fence outside the city of Laramie. 

"Whoever committed this crime should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law," said Knight, who cautioned that some are already exploiting this tragedy to advance the cause of so-called "hate crimes" legislation, which creates attitudinal crimes and a special status for certain victims.  "Every crime is a 'hate' crime.  Brutalizing a person is a reprehensible act, regardless of the motivation or the group affiliation of the victim. 

"All citizens deserve equal protection under the law.  'Hate crimes' laws skew the legal system and afford unequal protection by design.  This young man, no less than anyone else, should be protected, and his attackers should feel the full force of the law," stressed Knight.  "The law should deal strictly with facts and acts.  Justice dictates that violence be punished, and that the perpetrators be held fully accountable," Knight concluded." 
 

Fri Oct 9, 1998 - 5:41PM EDT - WYOMING NICKNAME IS "EQUALITY STATE" 
Ironically, the Wyoming state motto is: "Equal Rights", and the official state nickname is "the Equality State".  You can confirm this at: <http://www.state.wy.us/state/wyoming_news/general/general.html>. 
 

Fri Oct 9, 1998 - 5:15PM EDT - SHEPARD'S SKULL SMASHED WITH HANDGUN 
New in this story from the Associated Press: 
* When he was found, Shepard was unconscious, and his skull had been smashed with a handgun.  
 

Fri Oct 9, 1998 - 3:45PM EDT - SHEPARD CHOSEN IN PART BECAUSE HE WAS GAY 
New in this story from the Associated Press: 
* Police Cmdr. Dave O'Malley said that robbery was the chief motive but that the victim was chosen in part because he is gay. 
* The temperature had dropped into the low 30s during the more than 12 hours Shepard was left outside. 
* O'Malley, a 25-year veteran of the police force, said there had been a few hate crimes over the years, ``but nothing anywhere near this.'' 
 

Fri Oct 9, 1998 - 3:45PM EDT - SCHOOL PAPER ADDS DETAILS 
New in this story from the University of Wyoming paper, the "Branding Iron": 
* Shepard, who suffered severe head trauma, was unconscious upon discovery and was still unconscious at press time. 
* "They're not expecting him to ever wake up," Walter Boulden, a friend of the victim, said. 
* An alleged aggravated assault which occurred approximately at 1 a.m. Oct. 7 in the vicinity of 7th and Harney led officers to the suspects, Puls said. 
 

Fri Oct 9, 1998 - 2:28PM EDT - FRIENDS SAY CLEARLY A HATE CRIME 
New in this story from the Associated Press: 
* Walter Boulden, a friend of the victim's, said he believes the crime was clearly motivated by hate. ``There is no maybe,'' he told the Branding Iron, the campus paper.  
* `It's really hard to be gay and live in Wyoming because of the good-ol'-boy network,'' said another student, Kete Blonigen.  
* ``It's such a conservative state,'' said Kete Blonigen, a local student. ``I'm almost afraid and expecting someone to say, `He was gay. What does it matter?' I can totally see that happening. I'm disgusted by this whole thing.''  
 

Fri Oct 9, 1998 - 1:03PM EDT - LOCAL OFFICIALS SAY ROBBERY WAS MOTIVE, BUT SEXUAL ORIENTATION PLAYED A ROLE 
Nando Times published a story, based in part on an Associated Press report, that robberty appears to be the motive behind the savage attack on Matthew Shepard.  New information in this story: 
* A University of Wyoming student and three other people were arrested Thursday in connection with the beating and were scheduled to be in court Friday.  A new name was added to the arrestees, Aaron McKinney -- , whose age was not immediately available, and who was expected to be charged with attempted first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery.  
* Shepard apparently drove off in McKinney's truck with the two men. The two beat Shepard in 
the truck, then continued to beat him after tying him up to the fence outside Laramie. They took his wallet and shoes and left him.  Later, the two young women helped them get rid of their bloody clothing. 
* The two men made anti-gay statements to the two women, who told police about them. 
* The Denver Post reports that one local resident "wasn't shocked to hear a gay man had been beaten so 
severely."  She said: "Here in the rural West, such intolerance still is not that unusual." 
 

Fri Oct 9, 1998 - 10:26AM EDT - HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN ISSUES STATEMENT 
"APPARENT HATE CRIME AGAINST GAY STUDENT IN WYOMING HIGHLIGHTS THE NEED FOR CONGRESS TO PASS THE HATE CRIMES PREVENTION ACT 

Brutality Continues While Congress Lets Bill Languish, According To HRC 
   
WASHINGTON -- A gay University of Wyoming student was savagely attacked Thursday night, burned, and left to die for up to 18 hours tied to a wooden fence outside Laramie, 30 miles northwest of Cheyenne.  The assault on Matthew Shepard, 21, by fellow students underscores the need for Congress to move forward and pass pending hate crimes legislation, according HRC.  

        "We are outraged and sickened by this attack performed by a group of cowards.  How long does the brutality have to go on until Congress sends the message that this type of behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our society?  It is time to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act," said HRC Political Director Winnie Stachelberg.  

        When Shepard was found he was unconscious and his skull had been smashed with a blunt object; he also appeared to have substantial burns on his body and cuts on his head and face, his family said.  Two motorcyclists who found his body said he looked "like a scarecrow" because of the way he was positioned on the fence.  Shepard is now in critical condition in the intensive care unit at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado where he remains unconscious and hooked up to a respirator.  He had twice been beaten recently and attributed those attacks to his openness about his sexuality, friends told the Associated Press.  

        Three University of Wyoming students were arrested Thursday in connection with the attack.   Authorities say they expect more arrests.   There are no hate crimes laws in Wyoming and efforts to pass a law have been rebuffed repeatedly because critics have claimed it would give gay Americans "special rights."  

        "There is nothing special about living life free of violence and nothing right about opposing laws that would help remedy this situation.  Those who oppose hate crimes legislation are either burying their heads in the sand or they simply don't care that thousands of gay and lesbian Americans are being harassed and brutalized each year," said HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch.  

        In July, both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees held hearings to amend current federal law to include sexual orientation, gender and disability and to expand federal law enforcement jurisdiction is an important step towards closing a loophole needed to assist Americans affected by hate motivated attacks. But since the hearings, there has been no movement on this legislation. The Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA), sponsored by Senators Kennedy (D-MA), Specter (R-PA), and Wyden (D-OR), and Representatives McCollum (R-FL) and Schumer (D-NY), would amend current federal law to include real or perceived sexual orientation, gender, and disability.  The amendment would enable the FBI to investigate 
and prosecute violent hate crimes against gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.   Current law already allows investigation and prosecution only on the basis of race, religion, national origin and color.  

        A study released in August by Dr. Karen Franklin, a forensic psychologist at the Washington Institute for Mental Illness Research and Training, suggests that harassment and hate crimes against gay students by their peers is commonplace.  According to the study, nearly one-quarter of community college students who took part in this survey admitted to harassing people they thought were gay.  Among men, 18 percent said they had physically assaulted or threatened someone they thought was gay or lesbian.  And 32 percent admitted they were guilty of verbal harassment.  
     
        Hate crimes committed against gays, lesbians, and bisexuals make up the third-highest category of hate crimes reported to the FBI, currently representing 11.6% of all hate crimes reported.  Only 21 states and the District of Columbia include sexual orientation-based crimes in their hate crimes statutes. While states continue to play the primary role in the prosecution of hate violence, the federal government must have 
jurisdiction to address those limited cases in which local authorities are either unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute.  

        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.  
 

Fri Oct 9, 1998 - 10:25AM EDT - DENVER POST REPORTS ON SHEPARD ATTACK 
New details revealed in this story:  
* Shepard dedicated his life to the fight for human rights. 
* He remained tied up to the wooden fence for 18 hours before he was found. 
* Shepard almost died of blood loss before passers-by discovered him. 
* Shepard had been beaten up twice in the recent past - his jaw was broken last summer - and he attributed those attacks to his open homosexuality, friends said. 
* "He's a small person with a big heart, mind and soul that someone tried to beat out of him,'' Eaton [his uncle] said. "Right now, he's in God's hands.'' 
* His aunt and uncle described Shepard's appearance as horrifying, with wounds concentrated on his head and face. The most severe blow was inflicted with a weapon akin to a rifle butt or baseball bat and probably caused irreparable brain damage, Eaton said.  "He looks like hell,'' Rose said. "I can't explain it. I don't know how to explain it. He is hanging onto life by a thread.''  Said Eaton: "It's like something you might see in war.'' 
* The trio awaiting arraignment today are: Russel Arthur Henderson, 21, of 3443 Fort Sanders Drive, arrested for investigation of attempted first-degree murder; Chastity Vera Pasley, 20, of the same address, arrested for investigation as an accessory to the crime; Kristin Leann Price, 18, of 751 N. Fourth St., arrested for investigation as an accessory. 
* Shepard spent some of his time growing up in Casper. His father and mother, Dennis and Judy Shepard, live in Saudi Arabia, where the elder Shepard works as an oil rig safety inspector.  The parents were en route to Fort Collins, Eaton said.  Due to his father's overseas work, Matthew Shepard traveled extensively during his school years, studying at boarding schools in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe.  During the past several years, he lived in Denver, where he worked as a waiter and retail clerk.  He moved to Laramie last spring to enter college as a freshman, his aunt and uncle said. He had wanted to attend the University of Wyoming because it was his father's alma mater, they said. 
* He enjoyed spirited political debate and wanted to work as a human-rights advocate on behalf of the impoverished and downtrodden, friends said. 
* Friends say the attack on Shepard shows the need to pass hate crimes legislation in Wyoming.  Efforts to pass hate-crime legislation in Wyoming have failed repeatedly because critics have said it would give homosexuals special rights, said Marv Johnson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Wyoming. 
 

Fri Oct 9, 1998 - 6:38AM EDT - ASSOCIATED PRESS BREAKS SHEPARD STORY NATIONALLY 
Within one day of militant fumdamentalists holding a press conference in Washington, DC promoting the "ex-gay" agenda, the Associated Press  reported that a gay student at the University of Wyoming was savagely beaten, burned and left to die, tied to a wooden fence outside Laramie Wyoming, 30 miles northwest of Cheyenne.  Passersby discovered the bloody and unconscious body of Matthew Shepard, a 22-year-old political science major, a mile northeast of Laramie on Wednesday evening.  His skull had been smashed with a blunt object.  Shepard was in critical condition and on a respirator at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins.  He was last heard from Tuesday evening when he called friends from a bar. 

Three University of Wyoming students were arrested Thursday in connection with the beating and were scheduled to be in court today.  Shepard's body was found by two motorcyclists who at first thought he was a scarecrow because of the way he was positioned on the fence.  Police were investigating whether the brutal beating was motivated by Shepard's sexual orientation. He had twice been beaten recently and attributed those attacks to his open homosexuality, friends said. 
 

Thu Oct 8, 1998 - FOCUS ON THE FAMILY RE: 'NATIONAL COMING OUT OF HOMOSEXUALITY DAY' 
"COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Oct. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Focus on the Family staffer and former homosexual, John Paulk, will mark `National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day' by participating in a press conference this morning at the National Press Club.  Mr. Paulk works as a Homosexuality and Gender Analyst for Focus on the Family and serves, along with his wife, Anne, as a national spokesperson for the ex-gay movement. 

"It's an honor to be a role model for those struggling to leave homosexuality behind," says Paulk.  "My wife and I, and thousands of others, serve as living proof that change is possible.  By taking a bold stand against the lies that say homosexuality is biological and unchangeable, we hope to encourage others desperate to escape homosexuality. 

"The gay activist agenda, which includes `National Coming Out Day,' is promoted heavily by Hollywood and the media.  Focus on the Family believes that `National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day' is crucial in order to provide the American public with the other side of the issue. 

"Primarily, our concern centers on the destructive messages being sent to today's youth.  Millions of young people struggling with a variety of issues are being encouraged to `come out' as a solution to their problems.  Our goal is to point teens, their parents and teachers in another direction -- that of an achievable, healthy, normal heterosexual identity," says Paulk. 

Focus on the Family is committed to helping families sort through the facts and fiction surrounding youth and homosexuality.  Beginning next month, Focus will host conferences nationwide that will address the promotion of homosexuality within the public school setting. 

"We believe that a young person struggling with homosexual tendencies should also be informed of healthy alternatives to homosexuality," says Paulk. "It is irresponsible for educators to steer that person into a potentially dangerous and lonely lifestyle.  Through our conferences, we hope to equip and educate all those concerned about the influence of homosexuality on kids." 

John and Anne Paulk recently participated in a national ad campaign featuring ex-gays.  The firestorm that ensued landed the couple on the cover of Newsweek magazine, as well as in stories run on ABC World News Tonight, U.S. News and  World Report, Time, Los Angeles Times, USA TODAY, and many others. 

Check out Focus on the Family's new college website at www.boundless.org.  Articles this week explore `National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day.'" 
 

Wed Oct 7, 1998 -FUNDAMENTALISTS ANOUNCE "EX-GAY" PRESS CONFERENCE 
"The CENTER FOR RECLAIMING AMERICA offers further hope for change to those struggling in the homosexual lifestyle as it unveils the next phase of its "Truth In Love" campaign at its press conference at 9:30 a.m., Thursday, October 8, 1998 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.  

With the release of two television commercials produced by the CENTER, the campaign has expanded its outreach, which began with full-page ads in major newspapers nationwide (including The New York Times, USA TODAY, the Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal). Eighteen major pro-family organizations joined together to respond to the hostility and name-calling aimed at Senator Trent Lott and football player Reggie White, and others, when they simply stated the biblical position that homosexuality is a sin.  

The TV spots are designed to address the homosexual issue honestly and lovingly. One of the 60-second formats will feature several former homosexuals who are now happily married and enjoying new lives with their children. Tom Cole, a former homosexual, said, "The dream that I thought I could never have -- a wife and children -- has come true." The ad clearly demonstrates that many have left the lifestyle; in fact, thousands have done so.  

Another commercial is designed to appeal to the parents of those struggling in homosexuality. One mother, Frances Johnston, who never stopped loving her son, said, "Just because you love your children, doesn't mean you love everything they do." She refused to embrace a lifestyle that she understood to be immoral and destructive. Her son, Michael Johnston, appears with her in the commercial, thanking her for her persevering love and her unyielding principles.  

Janet Folger, national director for the CENTER FOR RECLAIMING AMERICA, said, "Each of these ads will emphasize the Christian approach of offering compassionate love without compromising the truth." Dr. D. James Kennedy, Senior Minister at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, and founder of the CENTER, said, "It's not about hate; it's about hope." This tag line appears prominently in each of the ads.  

In addition, Michael Johnston, founder and president of Kerusso Ministries, will participate in the press conference, to discuss the National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day, October 11. Mr. Johnston began this event four years ago to encourage those struggling in the lifestyle to seek the deliverance that is possible through the power of Jesus Christ.  

Other representatives from the pro-family groups that comprise the "Truth In Love" campaign will also be in attendance.  

For more information and interviews, call Carol Krpata, 954-351-3353, ext. 622.  

The CENTER FOR RECLAIMING AMERICA, formed by Dr. D. James Kennedy, is an outreach of Coral Ridge Ministries to inform the American public and motivate people of faith to defend and implement the biblical principles on which our country was founded. With members in 50 states, the  CENTER provides non- partisan, interdenominational information, training, and support to all those interested in impacting the culture and renewing the vision set forth by our Founding Fathers." 
 

Mon Oct 5, 1998 - RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISTS ANNOUNCE ANTI-GAY CELEBRATION 
"Group Announces Fourth Annual 'National Coming Out Of Homosexuality Day' 
Homosexuals Encouraged to 'Come Out' of Homosexuality 

NEWPORT NEWS, Va., Oct. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Kerusso Ministries today announced the fourth annual National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day (NCOHD) on October 11. The annual event is a direct counter to the pro-homosexual message of organizations like the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Human Rights Campaign and P-FLAG.  Michael Johnston, national chair of the event and a former homosexual with AIDS said Monday, "The message from homosexual lobby groups is one of anger and despair. They consistently blame everyone else for their misery and offer no hope to the adult or young person struggling with homosexual desires. All they can say is 'give up and give in'.  The NCOHD project offers a different message, a message of compassion and hope.  

"There are thousands of men, women and young people who have rejected a homosexual identity and gone on to live healthy normal lives," Johnston said. He readily acknowledges that the walk out of homosexuality can be a difficult one.  "These individuals desperately need to know that they are not alone and that many are willing to guide and encourage them."  Johnston walked away from homosexuality in 1988 after living for eleven years as an active homosexual.  Johnston said, "It is unfortunate that homosexual lobby groups continue to deny and even work to suppress the truth about so many who have walked away from homosexuality. It is cruel and anything but compassionate. They have convinced many, including many in the media, to believe a lie. This week we will take the truth to the streets to help the hurting. We will do it one community at a time, one heart at a time; that they may know the truth and the truth will set them free."  

Events surrounding the October 11 observance of the National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day will span the country from coast to coast. Activities will include educational and ministerial outreach in local communities, churches and on college campuses. Radio specials highlighting the stories of former homosexuals are scheduled for hundreds of radio stations across the country as well as television broadcasts in many markets.  

National Sponsors include: American Family Association, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, Christian Action League of North Carolina, Christian Coalition of Alaska, Christian Coalition of Colorado, Christian Coalition of Washington, Christian Family Network, Citizens for Community Values, Colorado for Family Values, Concerned Women for America, Coral Ridge Ministries/Center for Reclaiming America, CrossOver Ministries, Exodus International (North America), Family Defense Council, Family Research Council, Family First, Family Watch, Inc., Focus on the Family, Foundation for Christian Alternatives, Freedom At Last, Institute for Media Education, Liberty Counsel, Living Hope, Love of God Outreach, Metanoia Ministries, Mission America, Mothers for Good Government, New Creation Ministries (California), New Creation Ministries (Hawaii), New Hope Ministries, Outpost, Regeneration, Renew America, Stop Promoting Homosexuality America, The National Legal Foundation, Transforming  Congregations, Washington for Traditional Values and Washington Opposed to Pro-Homosexual Policies." 


 
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