06 June 2008

From Murder to Marriage

Good Morning Readers,

This entry is very important to me. 
Religion, Religion, Religion.
Matthew Shepard is a true hero to me.
Any person who loses their life for being a homosexual is indeed a true soldier.
Its the only war I'm really interested in fighting.
Homophobia  really effects me and many whom I love.
T.R. Knight is also a hero to me. Brave.
In different ways, but hero's nonetheless!

T.R. Knight and Mark Cornelsen

T.R. Knight and companion Mark Cornelsen attended a celebration of the California Supreme Court decision and a dusk “commitment to protect our rights” ceremony last night in West Hollywood.

The 35-year-old Grey’s Anatomy star, who was
forced to come out of the closet in October 2006 after some on-set drama on the hit ABC medical drama, and his 19-year-old beau joined approximately 50 other couples who took part in the ceremony presided by West Hollywood Mayor Jeffrey Prang to mark the start of National Gay Pride Month.

The entire event was hosted by the Matthew Shepard Foundation

Matthew Wayne Shepard (December 1, 1976 – October 12, 1998) was a homosexual American student at the University of Wyoming who was fatally attacked near Laramie on the night of October 6 – October 7, 1998. Shepard died from severe head injuries at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 12, 1998. His murder brought national attention to the issue of hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels.
His two assailants, Russell Arthur Henderson and Aaron James McKinney, were convicted of the crime and imprisoned. Henderson is currently serving two consecutive life sentences and McKinney is serving the same but without the possibility of parole.

Matthew Shepard


Shepard, oldest son of Dennis Shepard and Judy Shepard (
née Peck), was born in Casper, Wyoming. He attended Crest Hill Elementary School, Dean Morgan Junior High, and the first two years of high school at Natrona County High School. He was a member of St. Mark's Episcopal Church. Shepard spent his junior and senior years of high school at The American School In Switzerland. After graduating in 1995, he attended Catawba College and Casper College before he relocated to Denver. Shepard then became a first-year political science major at the University of Wyoming and was chosen as the student representative for the Wyoming Environmental Council.
He was described by his parents and good close friend from Orlando, Florida, Frankie J.
McGraw, as "...an optimistic and accepting young man ...[who]... had a special gift of relating to almost everyone. He was the type of person that was very approachable and always looked to new challenges. Matthew had a great passion for equality and always stood up for the acceptance of people's differences."

The Attack

Shortly after midnight on October 7, 1998, 21-year-old Shepard met McKinney and Henderson in a bar. McKinney and Henderson posed as gay men and offered Shepard a ride in their car.[Subsequently, Shepard was robbed, pistol whipped, tortured, tied to a fence in a remote, rural area, and left to die. McKinney and Henderson also found out his address and intended to burglarize his home. Still tied to the fence, Shepard was discovered eighteen hours later by a cyclist, who at first thought that Shepard was a scarecrow. Shepard was still alive, but in a coma, at the time of discovery.
Shepard suffered a fracture from the back of his head to the front of his right ear. He had severe brain stem damage, which affected his body's ability to regulate heart rate, body temperature and other vital signs. There were also about a dozen small lacerations around his head, face and neck. His injuries were deemed too severe for doctors to operate. Shepard never regained consciousness and remained on full life support. As he lay in intensive care, candlelight vigils were held by the people of Laramie.
He was pronounced dead at 12:53 A.M. on October 12, 1998 at
Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins. Police arrested McKinney and Henderson shortly thereafter, finding the bloody gun as well as the victim's shoes and wallet in their truck.
The two men had attempted to get their girlfriends to provide alibis.

The Trial

During court cases both of the defendants used varying stories to defend their actions. They attempted to use the "gay panic defense", arguing that they were driven to temporary insanity by Shepard's alleged sexual advances toward them. At another point they stated that they had only wanted to rob Shepard and never intended to kill him.
The prosecutor in the case charged that McKinney and Henderson pretended to be gay in order to gain Shepard's trust to rob him.During the trial, Chastity
Pasley and Kristen Price (the pair's then-girlfriends) testified under oath that Henderson and McKinney both plotted beforehand to rob a gay man. McKinney and Henderson then went to the Fireside Lounge and selected Shepard as their target. McKinney alleged that Shepard asked them for a ride home. After befriending him, they took him to a remote area of Laramie where they robbed him, beat him severely (media reports often contained the graphic account of the pistol whipping and his smashed skull), and tied him to a fence with a rope from McKinney's truck. Both girlfriends also testified that neither McKinney nor Henderson were on drugs at the time.
Henderson pleaded guilty on April 5, 1999, and agreed to testify against McKinney to avoid the death penalty; he received two consecutive life sentences. The jury in McKinney's trial found him guilty of felony murder. As it began to deliberate on the death penalty, Shepard's parents brokered a deal, resulting in McKinney receiving two consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole.
Henderson and McKinney were incarcerated in the Wyoming State Penitentiary in
Rawlins but were transferred to a Nevada prison due to overcrowding. 

ABC's 20/20 Report

In late 2004, ABC's Elizabeth Vargas conducted an investigation into the murder for the television program 20/20. Though Vargas primarily relied on personal interviews with people involved with the matter, the report was billed as exploring "New Details Emerging in the Matthew Shepard Murder. At the forefront was the possibility that the murder had in fact been motivated by drugs rather than Shepard's sexual orientation. McKinney, Henderson and Kristen Price (McKinney's girlfriend) claimed in these interviews that the attack was a result of heavy drug use, a robbery and a beating gone awry.Price, in her interview with Vargas, ultimately openly remarked: "I do not think it was a hate crime at all. I never did. This statement contradicted Price's first interview with 20/20 in 1998, wherein she said (of McKinney and Henderson's attack): "They just wanted to beat him bad enough to teach him a lesson, not to come on to straight people, and don’t be aggressive about it anymore. In the report, Price and McKinney's long-time friend Tom
O'Conner, on whose property McKinney and Price once lived, also stated that they believed McKinney was bisexual. However, when Vargas asked McKinney whether he had ever had a sexual experience with another male, he said that he had not.
Retired Police Chief of Laramie, Commander Dave
O'Malley — who was also interviewed by ABC and criticized the 20/20 report — pointed out that the drug motive does not necessarily disqualify the anti-gay motive: “My feelings have been that the initial contact was probably motivated by robbery because they needed money. What they got was $20 and a pair of shoes ... then something changed and changed profoundly... But, we will never, ever know because Matt’s dead and I don’t trust what [McKinney and Henderson] said.

Hate Crime Legislation Proposed

Henderson and McKinney were not charged with a hate crime, as no Wyoming criminal statute provided for such a charge. The disturbing and brutal nature of Matthew Shepard's murder prompted calls for new legislation addressing hate crime, urged particularly by those who believed that Shepard was targeted on the basis of his sexual orientation. Under current United States federal law and Wyoming state law, crimes committed on the basis of sexual orientation are not prosecutable as hate crimes.
In the following session of the Wyoming Legislature, a bill was introduced defining certain attacks motivated by victim identity as hate crimes, but the measure failed on a 30-30 tie in the Wyoming House of Representatives.
At the federal level, then-President Bill Clinton renewed attempts to extend federal hate crime legislation to include gay and lesbian individuals, women, and people with disabilities. These efforts were rejected by the United States House of Representatives in 1999. In 2000, both houses of Congress passed such legislation, but it was stripped out in conference committee.[26]
On March 20, 2007, the Matthew Shepard Act (HR 1592) was introduced as federal bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Congress, sponsored by Democrat John
Conyers with 171 co-sponsors. Matthew's parents, Judy and Dennis, were present at the introduction ceremony. The bill passed the House of Representatives on May 3, 2007. Similar legislation passed in the Senate on September 27, 2007, but President Bush has indicated he may veto the legislation if it reaches his desk.
On December 10, 2007, congressional powers had failed to get a bipartisan bill passed, which would update the hate crimes legislation, also attached to the Department of Defense Authorization bill. However, Nancy
Pelosi, Speaker of the House, says "she is still committed to getting the Matthew Shepard Act passed." Pelosi plans on trying to get the bill passed early in 2008. 

The anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, led by Fred Phelps, picketed Shepard's funeral as well as the trial of his assailants, displaying signs with slogans such as "Matt Shepard rots in Hell", "AIDS Kills Fags Dead" and "God Hates Fags". When the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled that it was legal to display any sort of religious message on city property if it was legal for Casper's Ten Commandments display to remain, Phelps made attempts to gain city permits in Cheyenne and Casper to build a monument "of marble or granite 5 or 6 feet (1.8 m) in height on which will be a bronze plaque bearing Shepard's picture and the words: "MATTHEW SHEPARD, Entered Hell October 12, 1998, in Defiance of God's Warning: 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.' Leviticus 18:22.
As a
counter-protest during Henderson's trial, Romaine Patterson, a friend of Shepard's, organized a group of individuals who assembled in a circle around the Phelps group wearing white robes and gigantic wings (resembling angels) that blocked the protesters. Police had to create a human barrier between the two protest groups. While the organization had no name in the initial demonstration, it has since been ascribed various titles, including 'Angels of Peace' and 'Angel Action'. The fence to which Shepard was tied and left to die became an impromptu shrine for visitors, who left notes, flowers, and other mementos. It has since been removed by the land owner.
In the years following Shepard's death, his mother Judy has become a well-known advocate for LGBT rights, particularly issues relating to gay youth. She is a prime force behind the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which supports diversity and tolerance in youth organizations.

Homophobia is completely unnecessary. 

Religion has nothing to do with ones sexuality.
Jesus surrounded himself with men. If statistics are true, one of his deciples was GAY! And I hope it was John, because he was a hunk. And there is nothing wrong with one of Jesus's friends being gay. I reckon Jesus was a modern dude who hung out with his buddies and had some fun. When ever you get a bunch of blokes together, you know theres going to be some play up. Jesus loved ALL human beings. Even the ones that killed him. Jesus died like Mathew died according to some people. Jesus died for the sins of others. Mathew was not a sinner, but according to the church, he was.  Jesus was nailed to the wooden cross and Mathew was tied up to the wooden fence.
It took some time for Jesus to die. It took as long for Mathew.
Woman gathered at the base of the Jesus's cross.
Mathews mother and friends payed hommage to him at the exact location where he was bludgened into oblivion, on the wooden fence.

Now I'm not stirring up trouble with this comparrison between Jesus and Matthew. I'm only saying that if its true, and Jesus died for our sins, then who did Matthew die for?
I understand why Jesus was killeed. Ive read the bible. I know what was going on.
But I'll never understand why people are attacked, beaten and murdered, just because they like having it off with other blokes.

God would not have created gays, lesbians, transgendered people or anyone else for that matter unless they were a part of his bigger picture.
God also creates these monsters who hate and kill others simply because of their sexual orientation. 
He works in mysterious ways, our God.
Religion should remove itself completely from the lives of people who only want to love and be loved without judgement. Its not the churches business, if no laws are being broken. Religion should fill the haters hearts and minds, with the concept of tolerance, acceptance, and passionate committment towards soicety in its total. Not the exact opposite, which we all see far too much of. Fear, hate and ignorance. 


Too much hate taught, and not enough love.
The Catholic church should lead by example, but it does not.
The Catholic church should be a leader, but it is not.
Nor will it ever be, unless it embraces all people, regardless of who they make love to.
Religion is destroying the world. It has destroyed the world.
And religion is completely responsible for homophobia and hate directed towards any fringed societies or their dwellers. Its their way or the highway! The church gives permission for others to carry out its wishes in society. If the church hates, the congregation hates too! Enter the homophobia that all gays and lesbians have to contend with.
God is not a homophobe.
Jesus was not a homophobe.
They would both be disgusted at what's going on in the church.
Religion should be ashamed about its contribution to the vast areas of greyness in our world.
So many blurred lines.
Hate lines.


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