The People's Exhibit A (davidology) wrote,
The People's Exhibit A

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"Lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

I was never more ashamed of myself than when Matthew Shepard died — ashamed that I'd waited to come out because I wasn't sure how friends at school would take it, afraid I might be made fun of. I'd been a coward. And I couldn't help but think at the time that if more of us stood up, it would make things like this less likely to occur. After all, it's easier to hate people when you dehumanize them, and that's harder to do when you already know them.

The article behind this cut is nothing less than infuriating, and a reminder we're still targets... and all the more reason to stand up and make a difference. There's NO legitimate reason for Bush and other politicians to oppose gay rights and gay marriage (aside from bigotry), and there's no reason for us to look the other way. There's no reason to excuse the Pope, just because he's a religious leader, for spreading anti-gay rhetoric. Why are they any better or more legitimate than Rev. Phelps, just because they mask their prejudice behind less vitriolic speech? So President Bush would never say "God hates fags." Isn't telling your justice department to find ways to "protect marriage" and stop/block states from recognizing gay marriages saying the same thing?

These are our leaders telling the rest of the country and the world that it's okay to treat us as second class citizens and leaving a legacy of hate in legislation. Here is Rev. Phelps being a bit more direct, and leaving a legacy of hate in his monument to Matthew.

Shepard death still yields sympathy, hate

Patrick Letellier, / Network
Tuesday, October 7, 2003 / 05:13 PM

Five years ago, one young man's beating and subsequent death marked a dark day in gay history. Today, the memory of that violent crime has inspired some people to stop anti-gay hatred, others to stoke it.

In the early hours of Oct. 7, 1998, 21-year-old college student Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, robbed, tied to a fence in rural Wyoming and beaten by two assailants. Shepard's battered body, still lashed to the fence, was found 18 hours later. He lived for another five days without regaining consciousness. Shepard died Oct. 12, 1998.

Shepard's killers later admitted they targeted the young man, in part, because he was gay.

The gruesome killing garnered international attention, sparking memorials and vigils worldwide. Celebrities -- including Elton John, Helen Hunt, Ellen DeGeneres and her mother, Betty -- spoke out publicly against anti-gay violence. President Clinton issued a statement challenging Americans to "search their hearts and do what they can to reduce their own fear and anxiety and anger at people who are different."

But Shepard's death was not without controversy, and that controversy continues. Anti-gay preacher Fred Phelps, whose supporters picketed Shepard's funeral with their inflammatory "God Hates Fags" signs, recently announced plans to construct an "absolutely beautiful" monument to the young man in Shepard's hometown of Casper, Wyo., the Denver Post reported.

Standing 6 feet tall and 3 1/2 feet wide, the monument would display a plaque reading: "Matthew Shepard entered Hell October 12, 1998, at age 21 in defiance of God's solemn warning: 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.' Leviticus 18:22," the report said.

Phelps plans to erect his monument in a one-acre, public city park, and a court ruling last year may make it impossible for city officials to stop him. In 2002, the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals stipulated that since the park has displayed a monument of the Ten Commandments since 1965, monuments promoting other messages must also be allowed.

The Casper City Council will discuss both monuments at a meeting scheduled for Tuesday evening.

Cathy Renna, a spokeswoman for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, told the Post that Phelps is "a bully," but, she said, "he serves as a reminder of what we're really battling against."

In the years since Shepard's death, awareness of gay rights and of anti-gay violence has shifted dramatically. "In Laramie and throughout the country, it's all gotten better," a University of Wyoming student told the Associated Press yesterday.

"We're more than just a rural community, which we're portrayed as," Laramie resident Dee Swanson told the AP. "We accept people. ? We're tolerant. The people are more verbal now about being tolerant," she said.
Tags: matthew shepard

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