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   "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."   
     - Margaret Mead - 

Matthew Shepard Online Resources

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As Matt's murderers are now in jail, this Web site is no longer being updated, but will remain as a resource, and memorial, to Matthew Shepard and all who have been murdered simply because of who they are.  Please click below to visit our new Web site HateCrime.org for updates on other hate crimes:

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Republicans Again Kill Hate Crimes Bill

"It's offensive"
- Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's (R-MS) spokesman,
objecting to Hate Crimes bill, 10/14/99 -

- Read the criminal complaints filed against Aaron McKinney.
- For extensive background on the case, visit the Univ. of WY student newspaper, the Branding Iron

Top Story:

TRIAL NEWS

RELATED STORIES


love her
Attend the Virtual Vigil
(Photos and quotes from
DC's Candlelight Vigil - October 1998)

hate her
Extensive Archive of Religious Right
Anti-Gay Speech
Visit the archive 

Visit our Bulletin Board
Leave a message about Matt,
or join in the debate on other gay issues 

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'Elegy for Matt' - a Wired Strategies Essay
Read it here 

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Watch Mrs. Shepard's public service announcements 'Friends' and 'Parenthood' (they're big downloads), or read the storyboards, created by HRC.

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Hear the Shepards
at the Human Rights Campaign annual dinner, courtesy of GAYBC


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HOW TO HELP 

Contact Congress for Matthew
* 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) 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  - 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.  

Draft email: 

Dear XXXXX: 
     I am writing to urge you to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act.  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 

Donations to the Matthew Shepard Foundation
(This information new as of December 15, 1998)   
Donations may be sent to:
Matthew Shepard Foundation
First National Bank of Wyoming
2020 Grand Ave.
Laramie, Wyoming (WY) 82070

For those wanting information about the Foundation forward your questions to:
Beech Street Law Office
123 S. Durbin
Casper, WY 82601


or

Judy Shepard
PO Box 4085
Casper, WY 82604

The Shepards now have a direct email address. It is matthewshepard@wyoming.com

Email the Newspapers 
Write letters-to-the-editor condemning the attack, condemning hate speech that demeans gay men and lesbians and helps to create a culture of violence against them, and demanding the passage of state and federal hate crimes law that includes sexual orientation, to the following papers, including your home town press.  Writers should include their name, address and telephone number for verification purposes. 

WYOMING NEWSPAPERS 
Branding Iron - U of WY  student paper  
Casper Star-Tribune - this paper, reportedly, prints EVERY letter it receives.  
Wyoming Tribune-Eagle  
Wyoming Journal  

NATIONAL PRESS 
USA TODAY  
TIME  
NEWSWEEK  
U. S. NEWS  
Chicago Tribune  
Wall St. Journal  
Dallas News  
New York Times  
Christian Science Monitor  
Newsday  
Boston Globe  
Florida Today (Melbourne)  
Columbus OH Dispatch   
SF Examiner  
SF Chronicle  

FOR ADDITIONAL MEDIA EMAIL ADDRESSES IN YOUR AREA, CLICK HERE
 

ONLINE DISCUSSION 

Share your thoughts and comments on the Shepard case with others in an online discussion forum. 
 

HATE CRIMES 

 While hate crimes against gay men and lesbians increased in 1997, the US Congress and several states (including Wyoming) refuse to pass hate crimes legislation. The following is a very small sampling of crimes of violence that occurred against gay people in the last year or so - some are confirmed hate crimes, others are still under investigation:  
* 1984 - Bangor, ME - Teenager Charlie Howard was thrown over a bridge into the Kenduskeag River and drowned by  a group of teen-age boys, simply because he was gay. (Bangor Daily News, March 6, 1998)  
* February 1997 - Atlanta, GA -- The Otherside lounge in Atlanta, a gay nightclub,  is bombed. (LANSING STATE JOURNAL, June 24, 1997)  
* June 1997 - Lansing, MI - Blow dart attack, no hate crimes law. (LANSING STATE JOURNAL, June 24, 1997)  
* July 1997 - Washington, DC - Gay bar tear gassed, 80 people evacuated. (WASHINGTON POST, Thursday, 17 July, 1997)   
* August 1997 - Minneapolis, MN - Gay bookstore vandalized, ``fag,'' ``KKK'' and ``187'' -- the police code for homicide in California -- sprayed in pink paint across store windows. (St. Paul Pioneer Press, August 3, 1997)    
* August 1997 - Dallas, TX - Two gay men called "faggot," beaten, robbed, stripped and stabbed outside gay nightclub.  There have been at least 21 murders of gay men in Texas since 1990. (Dallas Morning News, August 5, 1997)   
* September 1997 - Costa Mesa, CA - Christian radio talk show host says on-the-air that homosexuality should be punishable by death, station manager calls comments "an honest dialogue." (LOS ANGELES TIMES, September 5, 1997)   
* September 1997 - Williamstown, NJ - Gay man receives black eye, at least two broken toes, and bruises all over his body. His house is egged and a brick thrown through a window.  "You got what you deserve, you faggot," say local kids. (The Philadelphia Gay News, September 5-11)   
* September 1997 - Internet provider agrees to host "godhatesfags.com" Web site.  Not a hate crime, but a shocking tolerance of anti-gay hate.  
* December 1997 - Holiday, FL - KKK sympathizer attacks gay bar patron. (St. Petersburg Times, December 30, 1997)  
* January 1998 - Abilene, TX - Gay bar torched, anti-gay obscenities painted on the front wall. (Associated Press, January 5, 1998)  
* January 1998 - Dayton, OH - Two teens attacked by two college students, one of them severely beaten on the head with a blunt object.  The incident involved homophobic and ethnic slurs. (Dayton Daily News, February 18, 1998)  
* January 1998 - Phoenix, AZ - 71-year-old Thomas Moffat bludgeoned to death getting into his car, police believed the motive to be anti-gay bias. (The Arizona Republic, March 3, 1998)  
* February 1998 - Phoenix, AZ - 36-year old Robert Hernandez shot in the chest and killed by a 15-year old boy, police believe the motive to be anti-gay bias.  A local civil rights lawyer said: "When you demonize groups like gays and lesbians, other people find it OK to do things like this." (The Arizona Republic, March 3, 1998)   
* February 1998 - Corvallis, OR - 17-year old gay youth attacked by four kids screaming "Hey guys let's go fag beating" - loses teeth, needs two root canals. (Corvallis Gazette-Times, October 17, 1998, and personal account of beating victim)  
* March 1998 - Washington, DC - Washington Post reports anti-gay violence on the rise in US and Washington, DC (a 25% increase in DC), even though violent crime nationwide is decreasing. (The Washington Post, March 4, 1998 )    
* March 1998 - Columbus, OH - Attacks on gays increase 11% over previous year. (Columbus Dispatch, March 4, 1998)    
* March 1998 - Portland, ME - Gay psychiatrist attacked, suffers concussion, facial injuries and broken jaw. (Bangor Daily News, March 6, 1998 )  
* March 1998 - Detroit, MI - Hate crimes against gays and lesbians increase 12% over year before.  No gay hate crime law. (METRO TIMES, March 4-10, 1998)   
* March 1998 - San Francisco, CA - Gay man attacked outside bar by young man yelling "faggot," enters coma and dies.  Anti-gay incidents in Bay Area reportedly becoming more violent. (SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, March 14, 1998)  
* March 1998 - Tempe, AZ - University professor Batya Hyman's car was painted with the words "kike" and "dyke" while parked on campus, a rock was thrown through a window of her home, and someone attempted to run her off the road. (State Press (Arizona State University), March 11, 1998)    
* June 1998 - Orlando, FL - Dozens of the gay-pride rainbow flags flying in downtown Orlando ripped down by 19-year-old Brendan Shawn McGarity who became angry about the flags after he heard televangelist Pat Robertson warn earlier that week that Orlando would be punished by God with hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorist bombs and possibly a meteor for allowing the gay pride banners to fly. (The Orlando Sentinel, June 12, 1998)  
* June 1998 - Dayton, OH - An electrical engineer from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base defecates on gay-related books in local library after making harassing calls to Dayton Lesbian and Gay Center. (COX NEWS SERVICE, June 30, 1998)  
* July 1998 - Virginia Beach, VA - In what police call one of the most widespread incidents of vandalism ever in the city, residents find swastikas, racist and homophobic graffiti spray-painted on homes, cars, fences and signs. Police are handling the incident as a hate crime. (WTOP News/DC website, July 6, 1998)     
* August 1998 - San Francisco, CA - A survey of almost 500 community college students in the Bay Area found "truly alarming" number -- one in 10 -- admitting to violence or threats against people perceived to be gay.  For young men, for young men: 18% said they had physically assaulted or threatened someone they thought was gay or lesbian, and another 32% said they were guilty of verbal harassment. (SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER, August 16, 1998)  
* August 1998 - Eau Claire, WI - Newspaper agrees to print letter-to-editor from man calling for death of all gays, he writes: "these people are like an infectious disease." (Leader-Telegram, August 30, 1998)  Not a hate crime, but a shocking tolerance of anti-gay hate.  
* August 1998 - New York, NY - A 31-year-old man called him anti-gay names, punched, kicked and thrown down train station steps by two strangers.  48-year-old man stabbed and wrist broken by assailants yelling anti-gay epithets. (Associated Press, September 1, 1998)  
* October 1998 - Traverse City, MI - Doug Bradley of Traverse City, Michigan was walking down the street on Oct. 2 when two men starting yelling "faggot" and other expletives. The men followed him home 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, and prosecutor Dennis LaBelle said he couldn't charge the men with a hate crime because homosexuality is not included under Michigan's hate crime law. (DETROIT FREE PRESS, October 11, 1998) 
* November 1998 - Washington, DC - An 8 percent increase in reported hate crimes against gays and lesbians in 1997 was among the statistics released over the weekend by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Uniform Crime Reporting Program. This increase is particularly troubling since overall serious crime continues its decrease. (Human Rights Campaign Press Release, Monday, November 23, 1998) 
 

LINKS 

Religious Right Anti-Gay Speech - archive of Christian fundamentalist attacks on gay people.
Comparison of Anti-Gay and Anti-Jewish Speech - side-by-side of religious right anti-gay speech and Nazi anti-Jewish speech.
Poudre Valley Hospital - the hospital that treated Matthew. 
Matthew Shepard - 1977 to 1998- an incredibly beautiful Web site that someone built in Matthew's honor. Check this out. 
Video of the DC Vigil - a half-hour video of the DC candlelight vigil following Matt's death, put together by the Gay News Network and the Human Rights Campaign.
The University of Wyoming - the University has a large number of statements and additional information on their home page.  This was Matthew's college. 
LGBTA - lesbian and gay student association home page at the Univ. of Wyoming. 
Branding Iron - Univ. of Wyoming student paper - large number of articles and photos - Oct 9, 1998. 
Denver Post - large number of articles. 
Rocky Mountain News - a Denver paper with some good coverage - Oct 11, 1998. 
Yahoo! - special page on Matthew Shepard murder - lots of links. 
Washington Post - good articles - Oct 10 &Oct 11, 1998.   
Wired - Wired story on Internet reaction to Shepard case. 
USNews & World Report - "A Death on the Prairie". 
Newsweek - "Trickle-Down Hate: Conservatives have to take care that their condemnation of 'sin' doesn't turn ugly. 
Newsweek - "Echoes of a Murder in Wyoming". 
Time - "The New Gay Struggle", cover story 
Oregon Live - Story on the recent Oregon vigil. 
Letters to Matthew - Collection of Letters-to-the-Editor of the Univ. of Wyoming student newspaper re: the Shepard murder.
United Gays and Lesbians of Wyoming - an organization that seeks to enhance the lives of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in the Equality State.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Tue Nov 9, 1999 - HRC: Shepard Family at White House, Demand Hate Crimes Law
NEWS from the Human Rights Campaign
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
Monday, Nov. 8, 1999   

SHEPARD FAMILY AND WYOMING LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS EXPRESS SUPPORT FOR HATE CRIMES PREVENTION ACT

Legislation Would Have Helped in Prosecuting Shepard Case, Say Law Enforcement Officers

WASHINGTON - The parents of Matthew Shepard - Dennis and Judy -- joined Wyoming law enforcement officials and members of Congress today at a press conference to urge the passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA).

The HCPA would help foster a strong partnership between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies that would help in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes, says the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

"Last week, the trial of our son's murder came to an end, closing the last painful chapter in this ordeal that changed our family forever," said Dennis Shepard. "But there is still unfinished business. We call upon the president and Congress to come together, put differences aside and pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act."

"Law enforcement is asking Congress to provide the tools needed to properly investigate and prosecute hate crimes," said HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch. "We hope Congress will heed this call and put aside politics to protect our nation's citizens from the brutal hate crimes that claimed the lives of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr."

"I once thought all crimes were hate crimes," said Cmdr. David O'Malley of the Laramie, Wyo. Police Department. "I have changed my mind after working on the Shepard case because I have never seen a clearer example of hate motivated crime and the negative ramifications it has on our society."

In July, the Senate passed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act for the first time as part of the Commerce, State, Justice appropriations bill. The House version of the bill did not include HCPA. The GOP leadership omitted the HCPA legislation in conference, where a compromise between the House and Senate versions of the Commerce, State, Justice bill was crafted. The president vetoed the appropriations bill, in-part because it did not include the Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Participants in today's press conference are: Dennis and Judy Shepard; Sens. Gordon Smith, R-Ore. and Jim Jeffords, R-Vt.; Cmdr. David O'Malley; Jim Pond, Albany, Wyo. county sheriff, and Detective Robert DeBree, Albany County Sheriff's office; and Elizabeth Birch.

If passed, the HCPA would add sexual orientation, gender and disability to the categories already protected which are, race, religion, color and national origin. The HCPA would serve as a tool to help law enforcement by allowing federal assistance, when necessary, in the investigation and prosecutions of hate crimes. The HCPA has broad support from notable law enforcement agencies and state and local leaders including 22 state attorneys general, the Police Foundation and the National Sheriff's Association.

New FBI statistics show that even as overall crime is down, hate crimes based on sexual orientation continue to rise. Reported hate crimes based on sexual orientation were up 14.3 percent from 1997. This is particularly disturbing since the number of reporting agencies for 1998 decreased from 11,211 to 10, 461, with two fewer states reporting. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation continue to make up the third highest category of those reported to the FBI after race and religion.

Today's press conference follows last weeks trial in Wyoming where Aaron J. McKinney was convicted of two counts of felony murder, which included second-degree murder, aggravated robbery and kidnapping. The conviction made him eligible for the death penalty, but he received life in prison without parole in a deal with prosecutors, after Shepard's parents agreed to it.

On Oct. 6, 1998 McKinney and Russell A. Henderson lured Shepard from a bar in Laramie. The two men drove him to a remote field, fatally beat him with the butt of a gun and left him to die tied to a fence, in near-freezing temperatures. Shepard died in a Ft. Collins, Colo. hospital on Oct. 12. Henderson is currently serving two-life sentences.

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian and gay political organization, with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that lesbian and gay Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.


Thu Nov 4, 1999 - Court TV on McKinney Sentence

LARAMIE, Wyo. (Court TV) - With the consent of the parents of slain gay student Matthew Shepard, Wyoming prosecutors agreed to let Aaron McKinney serve two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole - and thereby avoid the death penalty.

On Wednesday, McKinney was convicted of first-degree felony murder and second-degree murder in the 1998 beating death of Shepard. The jury acquitted McKinney of first-degree premeditated murder, but convicted him of aggravated robbery and kidnapping.

McKinney's two life sentences apply to the combined first-degree felony and second-degree murder and the kidnapping charge. By reaching a plea agreement, McKinney gave up his right to appeal his sentence.

McKinney's death penalty hearing was scheduled to begin Thursday. But, both sides reached a plea agreement that spared McKinney's life and gave him the same sentence his one-time co-defendant Russell Henderson is serving for his role in Shepard's beating death. Henderson pleaded guilty to felony murder in April.

Prosecutor Cal Rerucha said the defense had approached him with the plea offer after McKinney's conviction Wednesday. Rerucha admitted he did not even seriosly consider agreement. However, McKinney's attorneys then approached Shepard's parents, and they consented to the plea agreement. Rerucha said the plea would not have happened without the Shepards' support.

McKinney addressed Shepard's parents in court Thursday morning and apologized for the slaying.
"I really don't know what to say other than that I'm truly sorry to the entire Shepard family," McKinney said. "Never will a day go by that I won't be ashamed for what I have done."

Wyoming prosecutors said that McKinney and Henderson met Shepard in a bar, pretended to be gay and lured him into McKinney's truck where they intended to rob him. Shepard was pistol-whipped and beaten brutally and later tied to a fence. He was found 18 hours later and died in a hospital after five days in a coma.

Prosecutors never characterized Shepard's slaying as a hate crime; they portrayed the killing as a robbery-gone-bad. But a tearful Dennis Shepard told the court during McKinney's formal sentencing that his son Matthew will remain in death a symbol of the horror of hate crimes. By allowing McKinney to agree to the plea agreement, the elder Shepard said, McKinney will not become a symbol for anti-death penalty advocates.

"I would like nothing better than to see you die Mr. McKinney, but now is the time to heal," Shepard's father told the 22-year-old roofer. "Every time you wake up in your cell, remember you had the opportunity or the ability to stop your actions that night.

"Mr. McKinney, you will not become a symbol," the elder Shepard continued. "Just a miserable symbol and a more a more miserable end. That's fine with me."

McKinney's defense had claimed at trial that he did not intend to kill Shepard. McKinney's actions, his defense said, were partly aggravated by abuse of alcohol and drugs. McKinney's lawyers also argued that an alleged unwanted sexual advance by Shepard sent their client into a rage that led to the gay student's fatal beating.

Defense attorneys Dion Custis and Jason Tangeman would have wanted to further explore the alleged reasons for McKinney's violent reaction to Shepard's alleged advances, but could not. On Monday, Judge Barton Voigt barred McKinney's defense from presenting a so-called "gay panic defense."

The defense argued in opening statements that McKinney's "rage" - and his fatal beating of Shepard - was spurred partly by the defendant's own prior homosexual experience. The defense has contended that McKinney was sexually abused by a male neighborhood bully when he was 7 years old and had a "confusing" experience at age 15 with one of his cousins.

But Judge Voigt, unconvinced that McKinney's lawyers had found a legal basis or established relevance for their arguments, torpedoed that defense theory.

McKinney's lawyers insisted that they were not employing a "gay panic defense." They argued that McKinney's prior homosexual experience and abuse would help explain why he reacted the way he did to Shepard's alleged advance and would give insight into his state of mind.
- Bryan Robinson


Thu Nov 4, 1999 - HRC on McKinney Life Sentence

AARON McKINNEY GETS TWO CONSECUTIVE LIFE SENTENCES FOR ROLE IN MURDERING MATTHEW SHEPARD

    Harsh Sentence Sends Message that Gay Bashers Will Pay for Crimes, Says HRC

WASHINGTON -Aaron J. McKinney was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences today for his part in killing University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard. The harsh sentence puts would-be gay bashers on notice that this type of violence is inexcusable, and that there will be serious consequences for their actions, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
    "The sentence was fair, just and commensurate with the seriousness of the crime," said HRC Communications Director David M. Smith. "Gay and lesbian Americans can now have renewed faith in our justice system. We can only hope a strong message was sent, that in America hate crimes will not be tolerated and there are severe consequences for violent, hateful actions."
    Yesterday, McKinney was convicted of two counts of felony murder, which included second-degree murder, aggravated robbery and kidnapping. The conviction made him eligible for the death penalty, but he received life in prison today in a deal with prosecutors, after Shepard's parents agreed to it, according to the Associated Press.
    "I really don't know what to say other than that I'm truly sorry to the entire Shepard family," Aaron McKinney told the court, according to the Associated Press. "Never will a day go by I won't be ashamed for what I have done."
    "I would like nothing better than to see you die, Mr. McKinney, but now is the time to heal," Shepard's father, Dennis, told the 22-year-old roofer, according to the Associated Press. "Every time you wake up in your cell, remember you had the opportunity or the ability to stop your actions that night."
According to the same news report, President Clinton issued a statement praising the jurors' decision.
   "This verdict is a dramatic statement that we are determined to have a tolerant law-abiding nation that celebrates our differences, rather than deepening them," he said. "We cannot surrender to those on the fringe of our society who lash out at those who are different." "Our hearts and sympathies go out to the Shepard family," said Smith. "They have been through unimaginable tragedy and we are glad the trial is over so they can move on from this particularly painful chapter in their lives."
    In an attempt to downgrade the murder charges, the defense blamed Shepard, in-part, for his own death by saying that he made sexual advances that triggered McKinney's deadly behavior. District Judge Barton Voigt dismissed this tactic saying that it was, in effect, a temporary insanity or a diminished capacity defense, both of which are prohibited under Wyoming law. Nevertheless, the defense pandered to the jury insinuating that Shepard's alleged behavior led to McKinney's actions.
    On Oct. 6, 1998 McKinney and Russell A. Henderson lured Shepard from a bar in Laramie, Wyo. The two men drove him to a remote field, fatally beat him with the butt of a gun and left him to die tied to a fence, in near-freezing temperatures. Shepard died in a Ft. Collins, Colo. hospital on Oct. 12. Henderson is currently serving two-life sentences.
    The Human Rights Campaign, the 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.     



Wed Nov 3, 1999 - HRC on Shepard Conviction

NEWS from the
Human Rights Campaign
________________________________________________________

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
Wednesday, Nov. 3, 1999

GUILTY: McKINNEY CONVICTED OF MURDERING MATTHEW SHEPARD

Justice has been Served In Murder Conviction, Says HRC

WASHINGTON -Aaron J. McKinney was convicted today of two counts of felony murder for his part in killing University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard. The conviction makes him eligible for life in prison or the death penalty. McKinney's conviction upheld justice and was vindication for a heinous crime that focused the nation's attention on the growing problem of anti-gay hate crimes, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
    "Fairness and the rule of law prevailed in a case that offered justice, but certainly no joy," said HRC Communications Director David M. Smith. "The verdict will do nothing to bring Matthew back, but hopefully it will send a message to would-be gay bashers that there are serious consequences involved with violent anti-gay behavior."
    In an attempt to downgrade the murder charges, the defense blamed Shepard, in-part, for his own death by saying that he made sexual advances that triggered McKinney's deadly behavior. District Judge Barton Voigt dismissed this tactic saying that it was, in effect, a temporary insanity or a diminished capacity defense, both of which are prohibited under Wyoming law. Nevertheless, the defense pandered to the jury by insinuating that Shepard's alleged behavior led to McKinney actions.
    "It happened because Matthew Shepard grabbed his balls, and it continued because Aaron McKinney was under the influence of chronic methamphetamine use," defense attorney Dion Custis told the jury, according to a story in today's Washington Post.
    "The past successes of the shameless 'blame the victim' defense has increasingly been blunted by the rising visibility of gay and lesbian Americans," said Smith. "Fortunately, the jury kept their focus on
McKinney's deadly actions and did not get suckered into putting the victim on trial."
    On Oct. 6, 1998 McKinney and Russell A. Henderson lured Shepard from a bar in Laramie, Wyo. The two men drove him to a remote field, fatally beat him with the butt of a gun and left him to die tied to a fence, in near-freezing temperatures. Henderson is currently serving two-life sentences.
    The Human Rights Campaign, the 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.


Wed Oct 27, 1999 - Gay Panic Defense is a Fraud
As you know, opening arguments in the Matthew Shepard murder trial began this past Monday. Today the ABC NewsWire reported that attorneys for murder suspect Aaron McKinney are preparing to use a ‘gay panic’ defense. According to today’s NewsWire: "In opening statements, McKinney's lawyers had indicated their client had forced into homosexual experiences as a child and had been enraged when Shepard allegedly made a pass at him." The judge pretty much responded, I don’t think so. Noting that Wyoming law doesn’t recognize the ‘gay panic’ defense, the judge told McKinney’s lawyers today that he may bar them from offering the defense.

But even more interesting are McKinney’s previous statements that show the gay panic defense is absurd. In June, McKinney was arguing that this couldn’t have been a hate crime, because he didn’t even know that Shepard was gay. Now he says Shepard came on to him. Read the following stories that all contradict McKinney left and right.

1. 10/26/99 – MCKINNEY SAYS SHEPARD HIT ON HIM

Los Angeles Times, October 26, 1999: "The attorney for accused murderer Aaron McKinney told a jury here Monday that a homosexual advance by Matthew Shepard brought back traumatic childhood memories and triggered ‘five minutes of emotional rage and chaos’ that led to the 21-year-old college student's death."

2. 6/24/99 - MCKINNEY SAYS DIDN’T KNOW SHEPARD WAS GAY

Associated Press, June 24, 1999: "One of the men who allegedly killed a gay Wyoming college student says all that talk about it being a hate crime is nonsense. Aaron McKinney says he didn't know Matthew Shepard was gay."

3. 4/7/99 – MCKINNEY SAYS KNEW SHEPARD WAS GAY, BUT SHEPARD DIDN’T HIT ON HIM

Rocky Mountain News of April 7, 1999: "McKinney confessed to sheriff's Detective Sgt. Rob DeBree in an Oct. 9 interview that he had lured Shepard out of the bar, robbed him and repeatedly hit him. McKinney said he knew Shepard was homosexual, and that the University of Wyoming student never made any advances to him, according to testimony at McKinney's preliminary hearing last fall. 'Guess what? We're not gay. You're going to get jacked,' DeBree testified, relating what McKinney said he told Shepard seconds before landing the first blow with a stolen .357-caliber pistol."

4. 4/7/99 – MCKINNEY SAYS SHEPARD HIT ON HIM

Rocky Mountain News, April 7, 1999 (a separate article: "When Aaron McKinney learned that Matthew Shepard was gay, he 'flipped out' and beat the college student with a gun, two letters attributed to the murder suspect reveal. Shepard 'said he was gay and wanted a piece of me,' according to one letter, both of which were obtained by News4 reporter Rick Sallinger from an attorney in the case. 'Being a verry (sic) drunk homofobick (sic) I flipped out and began to pistol whip the f-- with my gun,' said the letter, written to a cellmate's wife."

5. 11/19/98 – MCKINNEY SAYS HE AND HENDERSON HIT ON SHEPARD

Associated Press, November 19, 1998: "McKinney and Henderson lured Shepard from a campus bar Oct. 7 by telling them they were gay and that they wanted to get 'better acquainted,' [Prosecutor] Rerucha said. As they drove away in McKinney's truck, McKinney pulled the handgun and said, 'We're not gay, and you're jacked,' Rerucha said."

6. 10/11/98 – MCKINNEY SAYS SHEPARD HIT ON HIM

Denver Post, October 11, 1998: "McKinney, 22, was embarrassed that Shepard made two passes at him in front of his friends Tuesday night at the Fireside bar, said Bill McKinney [the defendant's father] and Kristen Price [one of the two girlfriend/accomplices]."


Wed Oct 27, 1999 - GLAAD and NCAVP Condemn Defense Strategy

NATIONAL LESBIAN AND GAY ANTI-VIOLENCE AND MEDIA ADVOCACY GROUPS RESPOND TO DEVELOPMENTS IN TRIAL OF AARON MCKINNEY

NEW YORK, NY, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1999 - In the first two days of testimony in the trial of Aaron McKinney, the second of two men charged with the murder of Matthew Shepard, defense attorneys have outlined a strategy hinging upon McKinney's allegation that Shepard had made a pass at him and the surprising revelation of an alleged history of sexual abuse. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) issued the following statements today in response:

"It's tragic that even from the get-go, the defense is grasping at straws, doing its best to deflect attention from the horrifying brutality of Matthew's murder," said NCAVP Steering Committee Member Jeffrey Montgomery, who is in Laramie, Wyo., for the trial. "Time and again, we've seen defense teams try to capitalize on short attention spans and easily-confused jurors by bombarding them with irrelevant information in attempts to cloud their judgment. We have every faith in the current jury and its ability to see through the deceptive tactics being employed by a sensationalistic defense team."

GLAAD Executive Director Joan M. Garry said the following, addressing her remarks principally to journalists covering the story: "Even if we leave the credibility of McKinney's allegations aside, framing the story with undue focus upon the allegation of a sexual advance inherently blames the victim. It suggests that Shepard's alleged actions somehow gave McKinney license to commit murder, because Shepard was gay. Sexual orientation - whether real or perceived- does not give license to discriminate, perpetuate violence, or commit murder. It's GLAAD's hope that journalists will consider the effects their coverage will have on promoting or dismantling such a damaging and diversionary tactic."

Montgomery is currently in Laramie, Wyo., for the trial, and GLAAD has had representatives in Laramie three times since Shepard's death last October - directly following the murder, during the trial of Russell Henderson and during jury selection in McKinney's trial. Spokespersons for both groups will be available for comment throughout the duration of the trial.

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.


Tue Oct 26, 1999 - HRC Blasts Defense Strategy

NEWS from the
Human Rights Campaign

919 18th Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20006
email: hrc@hrc.org
http://www.hrc.org
________________________________________________________

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, Oct. 26, 1999

HRC DECRIES USE OF "BLAME THE VICTIM" DEFENSE IN SHEPARD TRIAL

Shameless Defense Devalues the Lives of Gay and Lesbian Americans, Says HRC

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign today strongly condemned the reprehensible use of the "blame the victim" defense in the murder trial of Matthew Shepard. The attorney for defendant Aaron J. McKinney said that McKinney killed Shepard because Shepard made a pass at him. This is a morally vacant, shameless defense, which devalues the lives of gay and lesbian Americans, and tries to justify murder, says HRC.

"This is nothing more than a cheap roll of the dice, betting that perceived prejudice outweighs justice," said HRC Communications Director David M. Smith. "This shameless line of defense blames the victim, frees the criminal of personal responsibility and devalues the lives of gay and lesbian Americans by implying that an alleged pass justifies murder."

On the opening day of the trial, defense attorney Jason Tangeman acknowledged that McKinney killed Shepard, but he also provided a motive in an effort to reduce the primary charge from first-degree murder tomanslaughter. Tangeman portrayed McKinney as victim of childhood sexual abuse, and said that Shepard made advances that triggered traumatic memories that launched him into "five minutes of rage and chaos."

Tangeman said that McKinney had been forced by the age of 7 into sexual relations with a neighborhood bully. A sexual relationship with a cousin at the age of 15 was said to further confuse McKinney. The defense said alcohol and drug abuse also contributed to his lethal tirade against Shepard.

On Oct. 6, 1998 McKinney and Russell A. Henderson lured Shepard from a bar in Laramie, Wyo. The two men drove him to a remote field, fatally beat him with the butt of a gun and left him to die tied to a fence, in near-freezing temperatures. Henderson is currently serving two-life sentences, and is expected to testify at the trial.

The Human Rights Campaign, the 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.

Mon Oct 18, 1999 - Republicans Kill Hate Crimes Bill
NEWS from the
Human Rights Campaign

919 18th Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20006
email: hrc@hrc.org
http://www.hrc.org
________________________________________________________

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, Oct. 18, 1999

HATE CRIMES BILL FALLS VICTIM TO GOP LEADERSHIP

GOP Leadership Ignores Wave of Hate Crimes and Public Support for Legislation, Says HRC

WASHINGTON – The Republican leadership today allowed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) to be removed from the Commerce, State, Justice appropriations bill – dimming chances that federal hate crimes legislation will be enacted this year. The GOP's thwarting of this key legislation at a time when hate crimes are on the rise shows a callous disregard towards hate crime victims and their families, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

"Today's action showed a callous disregard for hate crime victims and their families," said HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch. "Apparently, the GOP leadership learned nothing from the recent wave of hate crimes that have rocked our nation. This unconscionable action is a cynical betrayal of the American people who demand a safer society where they are not menaced by violent haters."

The GOP's thwarting of this legislation comes just as the FBI released new statistics yesterday showing a rise in hate crimes against gay and lesbian Americans. According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports for 1998 -- the latest year for available statistics -- hate crimes based on sexual orientation increased 12.5 percent from 1997 to 1998. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation have nearly tripled since the FBI began collecting statistics in 1991, comprising 16 percent of all hate crimes for 1998 at 1,260. This is particularly disturbing since the number of reporting agencies for 1998 decreased from 11,211 to 10, 461, with two fewer states reporting, as well. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation continue to make up the third highest category of those reported to the FBI after race and religion.

In July, the Senate passed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act for the first time as part of the Commerce, State, Justice appropriations bill. The House version of the bill did not include HCPA. The GOP leadership omitted the HCPA legislation in conference, where a compromise between the House and Senate versions of the Commerce, State, Justice bill was crafted.

To support the HCPA, HRC launched a paid advertising campaign that first aired in Washington this week on Sunday's public affairs shows.

"White supremacists tie a black man to their truck and drag him to his death," the announcer reads in the ad. "A gay college student is savagely beaten and tied to a fence and left to die. Seven evangelical Christians, one of them a fourteen year old girl, are shot to death in a Fort Worth Baptist church. Republican leaders in Congress refuse to support hate crimes legislation that could help law enforcement stop this violence. Why? Because they don't think gay people should be protected. Let's act with real compassion. Call Congress today and tell them to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act." The GOP's move ignores overwhelming public support for hate crime legislation. A February 1999 Gallup poll showed that 70 percent of Americans are in favor of tougher hate crime laws.

    Since 1998 -- when an African American, James Byrd Jr., was tied to the back of a truck and dragged to death by white supremacists in Jasper, Texas -- several high-profile hate crimes have shocked our country. Last week was the one-year anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, the University of Wyoming student who was beaten and tied to a fence to die because he was gay. The HCPA would extend current federal hate crimes protection – which covers race, religion, color and national origin -- to gender, sexual orientation and disability. HCPA would serve as a tool to help law enforcement by allowing federal assistance, when necessary, in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. HCPA has broad support from notable law enforcement agencies and state and local leaders including 22 state attorneys general, the Police Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The Hate Crimes Prevention Act has strong support from President who has made passage a priority.

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian and gay political organization, with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that lesbian and gay Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

 

Mon Oct 18, 1999 - New HRC TV Ad Holds Republicans Responsible for Hate Crimes bill
HRC HOLDS GOP LEADERSHIP ACCOUNTABLE FOR REPORTED ASSAULT: TV Ad Supporting Hate Crimes Bill Announced At Press Conference

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, Oct. 14, 1999

WASHINGTON -- The Human Rights Campaign held a press conference today to hold the GOP leadership accountable for their reported attempt to remove the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) from the Commerce, State, Justice appropriations bill. In support of the bill, HRC announced that it would unveil a paid television advertising campaign, which will first air on this Sunday morning's public affairs shows.

"This is a watershed moment for hate crimes legislation and we urge the GOP's leadership to rise to the occasion and support the Hate Crimes Prevention Act," said Elizabeth Birch. "With hate crimes on the rise, it would be unconscionable and an insult towards hate crime victims and their families to thwart this bill."

In July, the Senate passed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act for the first time as part of the Commerce, State, Justice appropriations bill. The House version of the bill did not include HCPA. The appropriations bill is now in conference, where a compromise between the House and Senate versions is being crafted. The conferees are deciding whether the HCPA will be part of the final bill. There is overwhelming public support for hate crime legislation.

To support the HCPA at this critical juncture, HRC announced that it will launch a paid advertising campaign in the Washington market designed to persuade lawmakers to have the moral courage and fortitude to take a stand against hate crimes, says HRC.

"White supremacists tie a black man to their truck and drag him to his death," the announcer in the ad reads. "A gay college student is savagely beaten and tied to a fence and left to die. Seven evangelical Christians, one of them a fourteen year old girl, are shot to death in a Fort Worth Baptist church. Republican leaders in Congress refuse to support hate crimes legislation that could help law enforcement stop this violence. Why? Because they don't think gay people should be protected. Let's act with real compassion. Call Congress today and tell them to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act."

The bill is being considered at a time when the American public is focused as never before on the horrible toll hate crimes have taken on our nation. Since 1998 -- when an African American, James Byrd Jr., was tied to the back of a truck and dragged to death by white supremacists in Jasper, Texas -- several high-profile hate crimes have shocked our country. This week is the one-year anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, the University of Wyoming student who was beaten and tied to a fence to die because he was gay. In 1997, hate crimes against homosexuals were up 8 percent -- according to the latest FBI statistics.

A survey by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reports that in anti-gay hate crimes in 1998, guns used during assaults grew 71 percent; ropes and restraints, 133 percent; vehicles, 150 percent; and blunt objects, clubs and bats, 47 percent.

"In light of the horrible hate crimes that have rocked the nation this year, Congress should summon the conscience and moral authority to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act," said Birch.

A February 1999 Gallup poll showed that 70 percent of Americans are in favor of tougher hate crime laws. The HCPA would extend current federal hate crimes protection - which covers race, religion, color and national origin -- to gender, sexual orientation and disability. HCPA would serve as a tool to help law enforcement by allowing federal assistance, when necessary, in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. HCPA has broad support from notable law enforcement agencies and state and local leaders including 22 state attorneys general, the Police Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian and gay political organization, with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that lesbian and gay Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

View the TV Advocacy Spot

"HATE"

Thu Oct 14, 1999 - NOW Action Alert on Hate Crimes Bill
VERY URGENT ACTION ALERT
NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN
Calls Needed Immediately to Save Hate Crimes Bill
October 13, 1999

Take Action:

We have just learned that the Conference Committee working on the Commerce/State/Justice (CJS) Appropriations bill has dropped the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 1999 (HCPA, originally S. 662) from the final version. Please call conferees (and urge others to do so) today or no later than 10 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 14th, to strongly urge that they restore the Hate Crimes bill to the CJS appropriations measure *and* make sure that it includes the provisions against sex-based hate crimes. The names of conferees are listed below; call even if these members are not from your state. We need hundreds of calls going to their offices within a very short period of time. So please act now.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Brief Background:

The Senate passed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 1991 in late July along with a watered-down hate crimes bill offered by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). The bill would adopt in federal criminal statutes three new categories of bias crimes -- sex-based, sexual orientation-based anddisability-based hate crimes. This was the first time in more than a dozen years that NOW and other advocacy groups have succeeded in getting Congress to act on this important bill. Pressure has been strong from Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Orrin Hatch to delete provisions related to sex-based and disability-based hate crimes. Hatch proposed instead a fairly meaningless bill that would simply study the problem of hate crimes. That bill, also adopted by the Senate, has been dropped from the final CJS appropriations bill as well.

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), HCPA's main sponsor and a true leader in our cause, attempted to work out an agreement on sex- and disability-based hate crimes with Sen. Hatch after meeting with NOW and other advocates. But Hatch and Republicans may believe that they have the votes to keep the entire bill out of CJS appropriations. We need to show them otherwise.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Targets and Message:
For Democratic Members - Thank them for their support and ask them to take leadership to restore the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 1999 to the CJS appropriations bill Thursday during the final conference committee meeting.

Call at area code (202):
Sens. Robert Byrd (WV) 224-3954, Ernest "Fritz" Hollings (SC) 224-6121, Daniel K. Inouye (HI) 224-3934, Frank Lautenberg (NJ) 224-4744, Barbara Mikulski (MD) 224-4654 and Reps. David Obey (WI) 225-3365, Jose Serrano (NY) 225-4361, Julian Dixon (CA)225-7084, Alan Mollohan (WV) 225-4172 and Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA) 225-1766.

For Republican Members - Urge them not to miss an historic opportunity to help solve our critical national problem of hate crimes. Ask them to restore the Hate Crimes Prevention Act to the CJS spending bill. This bill is a modest improvement in federal statutes that will help state and local law enforcement officials better investigate and prosecute hate crimes.

Republican members, all at area code (202), are:

Sens. Ted Stevens (AK) 224-3004, Judd Gregg (NH) 224-3324, Pete Domenici (NM) 224-6621, Mitch McConnell (KY) 224-2541, Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX) 224-5922, Ben Nighthorse Campbell (CO) 224-5852 and Reps. Bill Young (FL) 225-5961, Harold Rogers (KY) 225-4601, Jim Kolbe (AZ) 225-2542, Charles Taylor (NC) 225-6401, Ralph Regula (OH) 225-225-3876, Tom Latham (IA) 225-5476, Dan Miller (FL) 225-5015 and Zach Wamp (TN) 225-3271.

Fax numbers and email addresses for each Member are listed on the website for Congress: thomas.loc.gov

Thank you for your prompt action on this alert!

Here are email addresses for those involved-- Note: Some do not have email addresses. Faxes may work better, but I wanted to provide as much information as I had.

jim.kolbe@mail.house.gov, repcharles.taylor@mail.house.gov, tom.latham@mail.house.gov, miller13@mail.house.gov, jserrano@mail.house.gov, senator@mcconnell.senate.gov, senator@hutchison.senate.gov, mailbox@gregg.senate.gov, Senator_Stevens@stevens.senate.gov, senator_domenici@domenici.senate.gov, administrator@campbell.senate.gov, senator@inouye.senate.gov, Frank_Lautenberg@Lautenberg.senate.gov, senator@mikulski.senate.gov, senator_byrd@byrd.senate.gov


Wed Oct 13, 1999 - GLAAD and NCAVP Report From Laramie

MEDIA RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact:
Wonbo Woo, Communications Manager
phone: (212) 807-1700 x24
pager: (800) 689-0196
e-mail: woo@glaad.org

NEWS FROM LARAMIE

GLAAD AND NCAVP REPORT ON SHEPARD TRIAL AND COMMUNITY RESPONSE IN LARAMIE

LARAMIE, WYO., TUESDAY, OCTOBER 12, 1999 - As a service to news media professionals, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) are providing this release, featuring summary of judicial proceedings and community activities surrounding the trial of Aaron McKinney, the second man charged in the murder of Matthew Shepard.

GLAAD Director of Community Relations Cathy Renna and NCAVP Steering Committee Member Jeffrey Montgomery have been in Laramie, Wyo., since Sunday, working to assist local activists and community members in their efforts. Both are available for further comment, and have provided GLAAD with scans of photographs taken in Laramie and available for electronic distribution to press. Interview or image requests should be directed to GLAAD Communications Manager Wonbo Woo at (212) 807-1700 x24.

Jury selection in the trial began Monday and McKinney's attorney, Dion Custis, laid out a defense strategy through his comments to prospective jurors. While Custis indicated that the defense would neither deny McKinney's involvement in Shepard's death, nor that they would plead insanity per se, he stated that McKinney was under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamines at the time of the beating and suggested that McKinney's judgment was therefore impaired. Custis told prospective jurors that McKinney's "mental state will certainly be a crucial question for you to answer."

"The defense is likely to mimic the strategies of so many other perpetrators of hate crimes by grasping at straws with the inclusion of the 'gay panic' defense and putting the victim on trial," said Montgomery. "Suggesting that alcohol, drugs or Matthew Shepard himself were responsible for Matthew's death is a travesty unto itself."

In addition to McKinney's trial, there are local community events being held throughout the week, responding to the trial and the renewed media attention to Laramie, commemorating the one year anniversary of Shepard's death, and celebrating both National Coming Out Day and the University of Wyoming's Gay Awareness Week.

Renna said this morning, "Even at the start of what promises to be a long and difficult few weeks for the residents of Laramie, they have shown incredible courage and spirit. The events they've pulled together demonstrate a sense of solidarity in their grief and an incredible determination to move forward from this horrible tragedy and the attention it's brought to their hometown."

Highlights of Sunday's activities included a candlelight vigil leading into a performance by folk legends Peter, Paul and Mary. Hundreds attended the vigil at Prexy's Pasture, organized by the University of Wyoming's Catholic Newman Center, and then carried their candles from the vigil to the concert. Peter, Paul and Mary's Peter Yarrow spoke with nationwide media on Sunday and early Monday about the personal impact that

Shepard's death has had on the trio, telling the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, "Part of us died with him." At the concert, the group performed numerous songs, including the classic "There But For Fortune," with a new verse added by Yarrow. The text of that verse reads: "Show me a gay man who is hated and scorned, who's killed for just being the way he was born and I'll show you a young man with so many reasons why there but for fortune go you or go I, you and I."

On Monday, as jury selection proceeded inside the Albany County courthouse, the virulently anti-gay Fred Phelps was on-hand to demonstrate again, having previously protested Shepard's funeral and the trial of Russell Henderson. A group called Angel Action responded to Phelps' picketing, as it had done during the Henderson trial. Led by Romaine Patterson and Jim Osborn, friends of Shepard's, nearly 20 students and community members donned angel costumes with 12-foot wingspans, silently protesting Phelps' rhetoric and exasperation of the community's struggles. In response to widespread interest in their activities, a website has been set up at http://www.angelaction.org detailing the group's philosophy of peaceful demonstration and providing plans for reproducing its efforts in other communities facing hateful rhetoric and actions.

Following the end of the day's proceedings, documentary filmmaker Beverly Seckinger previewed her forthcoming film, Laramie: In Love and Trouble, which chronicles the murder and the impact it has had upon Seckinger's own hometown of Laramie. And in nearby Ft. Collins, Colo., the Lambda Community Center sponsored a rally in honor of National Coming Out Day. Shepard had spent much of his time in Ft. Collins, and eventually died there, and a clear focus of the event was to remember his life and commemorate his death.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is dedicated to promoting and ensuring fair, accurate and inclusive representation of individuals and events in all media as a means of eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

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.


Wed Oct 13, 1999 - Human Rights Campaign Hate Crimes Action Alert

_______________________________________________________

ACTION ALERT from the
Human Rights Campaign
919 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20006
email: hrc@hrc.org
WWW: http://www.hrc.org
_______________________________________________________

Urgent Action Needed on Hate Crimes Bill
Call or Write to Your Member of Congress TODAY!

Over the next 30 days, Congress will decide whether or not to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA)--and whether or not they do largely depends on you. Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert has targeted October 29 as the adjournment date for this session of Congress, which means the next month will be incredibly busy--and a little chaotic--as individual members of Congress push for consideration of legislation important to them and their constituents.

In order for HCPA to be a part of that legislative rush, your Senators and Member of Congress need to know that their constituents want the historic legislation to become law. Take a moment to read the update below and TAKE ACTION.

HCPA Legislative Update

On July 22, in historic action, the Senate passed HCPA by attaching it as an amendment to the bill that funds the Commerce, State and Justice Departments (the C-J-S Appropriations bill). Passage of HCPA is a top goal of Human Rights Campaign and the Senate action on the bill was the culmination of months of work by HRC, our
allies on Capitol Hill, and our partners in the National Hate Crimes Coalition. Because the House of Representatives did not include HCPA in its version of the C-J-S Appropriations bill, the action now moves to the House-Senate conference committee, which will hammer out a final bill for consideration by both chambers. As the House and Senate conferees meet, we must do all we can to urge them to keep HCPA in the final bill.

Take Action!

Following is a list of the members of Congress who will play a key role in the conference process:

House
Dennis Hastert (IL 14), Speaker of the House
Henry Hyde (IL 06), Judiciary Committee Chair
Bill Young (FL 10)
Harold Rogers (KY 05)
David Obey (WI 07)
Ralph Regula (OH 16)

Senate
Trent Lott (MS), Majority Leader
Orrin Hatch (UT), Judiciary Committee Chair
Ted Stevens (AK)
Judd Gregg (NH)
Ernest F. Hollings (SC)

If your Senator or House member is on this list, it is imperative that you let him or her know that you support the Hate Crimes Prevention Act and that you want it to be included in the final C-J-S Appropriations bill. But even if your Senator or House Member is not on this list, they need to hear from you. Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to his or her office. The message is simple: "As your constituent, I ask that you support H.R. 1082/S. 622, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) of 1999, and work to ensure that it is passed before Congress adjourns this year."

For more details about the bill, the latest update, a sample letter, and to locate your Congressperson by ZIP code, please go to HRC's website at http://www.hrc.org/ and follow the link to HRC's Online Action Center.

PLEASE TAKE ACTION TODAY! LET'S NOT ALLOW THIS IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY TO PASS THIS VITAL LEGISLATION PASS BY.

Thu Oct 7, 1999 - Christian Right Marks Shepard Anniversary by Attacking Gays
In a move that is either incredibly stupid, or just plain mean, the Christian right chose October 7, the one-year anniversary of the brutal attack on Matthew Shepard, as the day to announce this year's National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day.  And to add insult to injury, their anti-gay "holiday" falls on October 11, the day Matt's murder trial begins.

Such poor timing should come as no surprise.  Last year, the family values crowd chose to mark the holiday by holding a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC - the event was held on October 8, while Shepard lay dying tied to a fence.

You can read their most recent act of love below:

AFA ACTION ALERT 10/7/99

American Family Association
Dr. Donald E. Wildmon, President
Tim Wildmon, Vice President
P.O. Drawer 2440
Tupelo, Mississippi 38803
Telephone 601/844-5036
URL's http://www.afa.net
http://www.afr.net
http://www.afo.net

+++++++++++++++++++++++++
Online Version of this ALERT: http://www.afa.net/alert/aa991007.htm
+++++++++++++++++++++++++
THE FIFTH ANNUAL "NATIONAL COMING OUT OF HOMOSEXUALITY DAY" (NCOHD) OBSERVANCE

MONDAY, OCTOBER 11, 1PM - 2PM
SAN FRANCISCO COUNTY FAIR BUILDING AUDITORIUM
NINTH & LINCOLN WAY
SAN FRANCISCO, CA
http://www.afa.net/reachingout/default.htm

American Family Association is pleased to serve as a sponsor of THE FIFTH ANNUAL "NATIONAL COMING OUT OF HOMOSEXUALITY DAY" (NCOHD) OBSERVANCE in San Francisco, California. Reverend Jerry Falwell of Jerry Falwell Ministries will join representatives from three other national organizations to address the 1999 NCOHD event "Reaching Out, Taking a Stand: Homosexuality & Faith," in San Francisco on Monday, October 11. Also speaking at the event will be Reverend Eugene Lumpkin, Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church and former member of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission; Yvette Cantu, a policy analyst with the Washington based Family Research Council and former lesbian and homosexual rights activist; Michael Johnston, president of Kerusso Ministries and former homosexual with AIDS; and Frances Johnston, Michael's mother who was featured in the national "Truth in Love Campaign" print and television ads.

Michael Johnston, national chair for the NCOHD project said the event will highlight the dual responsibility of Christians to reach out to the individual homosexual with a compassionate message of hope while continuing to take a stand against the often radical social and political agenda of homosexual activists.

"It's time for those of us who know the truth to take our stories to the streets and counter the messages of PFLAG, the Human Rights Campaign and other special interest homosexual lobby groups," Johnston said. "There is another side to the 'gay rights' issue. It's personal, it's powerful and Americans need to hear it."

FOR INTERVIEWS: KERUSSO MEDIA OFFICE 757-872-8878
INFORMATION ON THE WEB: http://www.afa.net and http://www.kerusso.org
 

Tue Apr 6, 1999 - 10:30AM EST - HRC ON HENDERSON VERDICT
919 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20006
website http://www.hrc.org
phone 202 628 4160
fax 202 347 5323

NEWS from the
Human Rights Campaign
_________________________________________________

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 5,1999

HRC: "JUSTICE WAS SERVED"

Matthew Shepard Murder Suspect Pleads Guilty To Felony Murder

WASHINGTON -- Murder suspect Russell A. Henderson pleaded guilty today in Laramie, Wyo. to felony murder, as well as the robbery and kidnaping of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard. Henderson's plea brought a swift conclusion to a nationally watched trial that may have ended with the death penalty if Henderson was found guilty. Henderson now faces up to two life sentences.

"In this case, justice was served and we applaud the authorities in Wyoming for bringing closure to this phase of the murder trials, " said HRC Political Director Winnie Stachelberg. "However, this brutal murder underscores the dire need to send a strong message that these hateful acts are not tolerated anywhere in America by passing strong state and national hate crimes laws. Until this happens, justice will remain inconsistent and elusive for many hate crimes victims."

According to the Associated Press, defense attorney Wyatt Skaggs said that Henderson simply watched while co-defendant Aaron J. McKinney killed Shepard with the butt of his gun. Skaggs also claimed that the slaying was not premeditated. McKinney will stand trial for first degree murder, aggravated robbery, and kidnaping in August. If convicted, he could receive the death penalty.

Henderson's girlfriend pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact of the murder on Dec. 23 and is awaiting sentencing. In May, McKinney's girlfriend goes on trial on an accessory charge, according to the AP report.

The Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) was introduced last month at a press conference on Capitol Hill. The HCPA would extend current federal hate crimes protection to cover gender, sexual orientation and disability. At a press conference in Washington, Matthew Shepard's mother, Judy Shepard spoke of the need to pass hate crimes legislation.

"There is no guarantee that these laws will stop hate crimes from happening. But they can reduce them," said Mrs. Shepard. "They can help change the climate in this country, where some people feel it is OK to target specific groups of people and get away with it. If just one potential perpetrator gets the message of this legislation and there is one less victim, then it will be worthwhile."

Hate crimes based on sexual orientation were up 8 percent in 1997, according to the latest FBI statistics. Sexual orientation was the third highest category of hate crimes behind race and religion and represented 14 percent of all hate crimes reported.
Calls for passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act accelerated in the aftermath of three brutal murders that rocked the nation. Last year, white supremacists dragged James Byrd to death behind a pick-up truck in Jasper, Texas. University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was killed in Laramie, Wyo. last fall in part because he was gay. Two men beat Shepard, tied him to a fence and left him to die in freezing weather. On Feb. 19, Billy Jack Gaither, 39, was lured from a bar by two men, beaten to death and burned on a pile of tires in Sylacauga, Ala. Two men, Charles Monroe Butler, 21, and Steven Eric Mullins, 25, confessed to killing Gaither because "he was a homosexual" Coosa County Sheriff's Deputy Al Bradley told the Associated Press.
Currently, hate crimes monitoring and enforcement consists of a patchwork of laws that offer citizens varying levels of legal protection depending on where they live. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have hate crimes laws that include sexual orientation. Twenty one states have laws that do not include sexual orientation. Eight states have no hate crimes laws at all.

The Hate Crimes Prevention Act will also allow local law enforcement authorities to utilize federal assistance in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. This key aspect of HCPA is why it has broad support from notable law enforcement agencies and state and local leaders, including 22 state attorneys general, the National Sheriffs Association, the Police Foundation, former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

While high-profile cases such as Shepard's and Gaither's gain a lot of publicity, anti-gay violence is far from uncommon. 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.

An October 1998 CNN/Time poll found that 75 percent of Americans think violence against gay Americans is a serious problem across the country. According to the survey, 68 percent of those polled said a similar attack could happen in their community. And 39 percent said anti-gay violence is a very serious problem, while 36 percent said it is a serious problem.

Two federal hate crimes laws include sexual orientation as a protected group. The Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990 requires the FBI to collect statistics on bias-motivated crimes. The Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act of 1995 provides for tougher sentencing when it is proven that the crime committed was motivated by bias.

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.

 
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