Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Posts for November, 2008

Hair You Can Straighten, Gays Not So Much

Daniel Gonzales

November 6th, 2008

Colorado-area and national groups Beyond Ex-Gay, Soulforce, Truth Wins Out, the Colorado Queer Straight Alliance, PFLAG, the GLBT Center of Colorado, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, the Religious Society of Friends and more have been working the past few months to organize a public response to this weekend’s NARTH conference.

NARTH, the National Association for the Research and Treatment of Homosexuality, is an anti-gay “secular” group that believes that being gay is a sickness that can and should be cured. Wait, have we traveled back in time to the 19th Century???

We have planned a series of events under the banner, “Ex-Gay Exposé: Exploring Practices and Harm in Reparative Therapy.” As former clients of NARTH and NARTH-inspired ex-gay therapy, we speak directly to destructive nature of theories and therapies designed to change and suppress gay and lesbian orientation and gender differences.

In addition to standing up as public witnesses to counter the false and misleading messages of NARTH, we will meet with ex-gay survivors to explore our ex-gay experiences and look at ways in which we have creatively sought to recover from them and integrate our sexuality as part of our healthy development. We will also convene a team of mental health experts for a summit to consider treatment plans and best practices designed to help ex-gay survivors overcome from the harm we have experienced at the hands of anti-gay practitioners.

Lisa M. Diamond, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Psychology and Gender Studies in the Department of Psychology at the University of Utah, speaks out in this video about how NARTH distorted and misrepresented her work in order to push their anti-gay agenda. (hat tip to Wayne Besen and Truth Wins Out)

Weekend Schedule

Friday, Nov 7th

7pm: Doin’ Time with Peterson Toscano. Well-known ex-gay survivor Peterson Toscano, as seen in The Advocate and LOGO’s “Be Real,” will be on hand to perform excerpts from several plays inspired by his years spent in the ex-gay movement. Location: Our Savior’s Lutheran Church (915 E 9th Ave, Denver. An affirming congregation)

Saturday, Nov 8th

8:45-10am: Rally at NARTH Conference site, Renaissance Hotel (3801 Quebec St, Denver). Meet outside to the south of the hotel.

11-4pm: Ex-Gay Exposé Gathering. Gathering for ex-gay survivors as well as allies who wish to learn more about the ex-gay movement. Location: Moutain View Friends Meeting. (2280 S Columbine St, Denver)

6-8pm: Mental Health Professionals workshop, part 1 (What is the ex-gay movement? What are common needs of ex-gay survivors?). Location: GLBT Community Center. (1050 Broadway, Denver)

Sunday, Nov 9th

9am-12pm: Mental Health Professionals workshop, part 2 (Exploring best practices for treating ex-gay survivors). Location: GLBT Community Center (1050 Broadway, Denver)

7 pm: Transfigurations: Transgressing Gender in the Bible. Written and performed by Peterson Toscano. Location: Our Savior’s Lutheran Church (915 E 9th Ave, Denver. An affirming congregation).

If you’re interested in attending any of these events, please fill out the information on this signup page and we’ll email you as needed.

A Few Silver Linings

Jim Burroway

November 5th, 2008

As we continue to watch California’s results trickle in, there are some silver linings to report. Arizona State Sen. Tim Bee (R-Tucson) lost his congressional race against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, 55% to 43%, with 73% of precincts reporting. Bee is the guy responsible for casting the crucial sixteenth vote which put Prop 102 onto the Arizona ballot. His political career is now, fittingly, over.

And perennial Federal Marriage Amendment sponsor Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) has lost her bid for re-election. With 67% of precincts reporting, Betsy Markey is thumping her 57% to 42%.

Update: With 99% of the precincts reported, Bee is down 56% to 43%. The Arizona Daily Star is reporting that Bee has still declined to concede as of 1:30 am. What a loser.

Update: After the lights went out and the cameras left, Bee finally conceded via email this morning.

Media Coverage Of Love Won Out Protest In Colorado Springs

Daniel Gonzales

October 26th, 2008

The Colorado Springs Gazette ran an article which quotes three people involved in planning the counter protest, Nori Rost (local Unitarian pastor), Wes Mullins (local MCC pastor who is also an ex-gay survivor), and ends with a fabulous quote by yours truly:

But Daniel Gonzales has a different view. The 28-year-old Denver resident will be one of four panelists at the “Love Came Out” event, where he’ll talk about embracing his sexual orientation after years of trying to change it while attending faith-based reparative programs.

“It all boiled down to trying to make up excuses for what was causing my attractions and convincing myself that my attractions had some other meaning and ultimately could be ignored or pushed aside,” Gonzales said.

“If that sounds like a fancy way of saying ‘repression,’” he said, “that would be exactly right.”

I haven’t been able to find the local Fox affiliate’s coverage online but here’s NBC’s coverage (in case you want more of me):

YouTube Preview Image

Today In History: Matthew Wayne Shepard (Dec 1, 1976 – Oct 12, 1998)

Jim Burroway

October 12th, 2008

Ten years ago today, on October 12, 1998, Poudre Valley Hospital’s CEO Rulon Stacey released this medical update during a hastily called press conference at 4:30 a.m.:

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 has received thousands of hits on Saturday and Sunday. We will continue to forward to the family any e-mail we receive…

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.

See also:
(Oct 16) Today In History: Rest In Peace
(Oct 13) Today In History: “Something In the Culture”
(Oct 12) Today In History: Matthew Wayne Shepard (Dec 1, 1976 – Oct 12, 1998)
(Oct 11) Today In History: The Vigil
(Oct 10) Today In History: Armbands and Scarecrows
(Oct 9) Also Today In History: Details Emerge
(Oct 9) Today In History: “We Just Wanted To Spend Time With Him”
(Oct 8) Today in History: Two Men Arrested
(Oct 7) Also Today In History: Another Assault In Laramie
(Oct 7) Today In History: “Baby, I’m So Sorry This Happened”
(Oct 6) Today In History: Before Matthew Shepard

Today In History: The Vigil

Jim Burroway

October 11th, 2008

Ten years ago today, Matthew Shepard lay quietly in the surgical-neuro intensive care unit of Poudre Valley Hospital in Ft. Collins, Colorado, surrounded by his family. This was his fifth day since that awful night. Despite his comatose state, doctors recommended that his family remain there and surround him with things that would be familiar to him in case he had any lingering awareness.

We don’t know much about the scene in the hospital that day. Matthew’s parents, Dennis and Judy, haven’t talked about it publicly. Whenever they’ve spoken publicly since then, they’ve always remained focused on Matthew’s life, not his suffering.

But we do know that ten years ago today they spent every minute that they could at his bedside, surrounding him with as many familiar things as possible. Beyond that, we can only imagine the scene.

But we can imagine that, among the many thoughts that must have raced through his family’s minds, they must have reflected on the many events in his life that they shared with him, the good times and the bad.

They must have thought about their son growing up in Casper. Kids do grow up so quickly, and Matt was no exception. And yet to them, Matt still must have seemed like such a little boy. He was born prematurely, and he struggled to survive as an infant. He was always small for his age — at 21, he still only stood five feet, two inches tall. He started wearing braces at the age of thirteen, and he still had braces as he lay there in that hospital bed.

It must have been very hard to see him laying there quietly like that, a son that was know more for his boundless energy. He wasn’t a star athlete while growing up, but he did played soccer. And in the Cowboy State Summer Games which were held every year in Wyoming, he ran the five-kilometer race and swam the 50-meter freestyle. He entered the swim meet at the last minute knowing that he would likely finish last, but that wasn’t going to stop him from trying. He finished last.

His friends described him as walking with a characteristic bounce, and his playful energy every room he entered. He just seemed to exude a certain kind of energy, the sort of confidence that comes from acting in in community college plays in Casper at the tender age of twelve. When he was a high school junior, he and his family moved to Saudi Arabia where Dennis worked as a construction safety engineer. Matt spend the summer there, and then he went off to boarding school in Switzerland. There he discovered a facility with languages, quickly learning German and Italian.

And yet, he wasn’t always so confident. His parents knew there was always something different about him. His mother says that she knew her son was gay since he was eight. She saw him struggling with himself as he negotiated the tricky minefields of relationships with school friends and neighbors while trying to keep his secret to himself. And she saw him struggle as he tried to figure himself out. But she didn’t try to bring up “the subject” with Matt, opting instead to wait until Matt was ready within himself.

Matt didn’t come out to her until he was eighteen, and even then he couldn’t do it face to face. He came out during a middle-of-the-night phone call. Her response? “What took you so long?”

Matt was more hesitant to come out to his father, and that reluctance had placed a strain between them. Matt had built up this worst-case scenario in his mind that his father would reject him. After all, he had been Matt’s soccer coach, and they had taken many hunting, camping, and fishing trips together along with Matt’s grandfather. You know, the guy stuff that Matt loved doing with his father and grandfather. But more to the point, he didn’t want to disappoint them or risk their rejection.

So when Matt finally decided to have “the conversation” with his father, he took a deep breath and nervously told his dad that he was gay. And then he just waited for Dennis’s reaction. To Matt’s immense relief, his father just said. “Yeah? OK, but what’s the point of this conversation?”

And with that, they went back to just doing guy stuff again.

But of course, that confirmation did lead to a sense of loss with his parents — no bride-and-groom wedding, daughter-in-law, grandchildren — those things. But they quickly got over it. They still loved him.

And besides, that loss was nothing like the one they were facing now.

As Matt lay there, it was probably easy to think of him as an angel. But he was still only human. He had his foibles. His mother would later recall that he smoked too much — including a little weed from time to time — he drank too much sometimes, and he didn’t study enough.

And now there was something else to worry about. Just after Matt was admitted to the hospital, they conducted an HIV test as part of a standard battery of tests. Matt came up positive. He had been tested every six months for the past three years, ever since he was sexually assaulted in Morocco, but those tests always came up negative. Was this a delayed reaction? Or, more likely, was this a very recent infection? In any event, it’s probable that Matt himself didn’t even know.

There was always things to worry about with Matt. Despite his small size, he was very quick to stick up for himself and others, and he didn’t always care who the offender was. If he saw something that he knew was wrong, he couldn’t let it go by. What’s more, he really did seem somewhat naive about his belief in the innate goodness in people. And that, coupled with his size, had scared both of his parents. It made him vulnerable in Morocco, and it made him vulnerable wherever he saw an injustice.

We don’t know where Matt’s family’s thoughts ran as they sat with him ten years ago today in that surgical-neuro intensive care unit, with the ventilator, the temperature, hearbeat and blood preasure monitors, and all the other equipment around his bed. It’s virtually impossible for anyone else to put themselves in their shoes.

But we do know that ten years ago today outside that intensive care room, the nurses were distributing an over-abundance of flowers to patients throughout the hospital, and hospital staff were busy fielding phone calls and emails from around the world.

And we know that ten years ago today in Laramie, on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, members of the LGBT Association gathered to observe the tenth National Coming Out Day to kick off a week of activities for Gay Awareness Week. The gathering took on special meaning ten years ago today, not just because of the somber reality of Matt’s beating that week, but also because Matt was missing from among them. He had helped to plan some of those events.

And we know that ten years ago today, Bill McKinney, father of Aaron McKinney, one of Matt’s attackers, told Reuters that while there was no excuse for what his son was accused of doing, the attack didn’t deserve national attention. McKinney was also 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.”

And we know that back in Fort Collins ten years ago, Poudre Valley Hospital put out one more medical update. It read:

As of 3 p.m. today, Matthew Shepard continues to remain in critical condition with severe head injuries.

As of today, the hospital will no longer offer medical updates on a scheduled basis as we have for the last three days to accommodate the media. We ask that you use our phone-in line and our web site to keep track of Matthew’s medical condition.

If Matthew’s medical condition changes, we will issue a new medical update and, depending on the significance of the change, we will immediately contact as many members of the media as is practically possible.

Ten years ago today, as crowds continued to gather outside the hospital to keep vigil, Matthew Shepard lay quietly in the surgical-neuro intensive care unit, surrounded by his family and the things he loved. This was his fifth day since that awful night, and it would be his last full day with his family.

See also:
(Oct 16) Today In History: Rest In Peace
(Oct 13) Today In History: “Something In the Culture”
(Oct 12) Today In History: Matthew Wayne Shepard (Dec 1, 1976 – Oct 12, 1998)
(Oct 11) Today In History: The Vigil
(Oct 10) Today In History: Armbands and Scarecrows
(Oct 9) Also Today In History: Details Emerge
(Oct 9) Today In History: “We Just Wanted To Spend Time With Him”
(Oct 8) Today in History: Two Men Arrested
(Oct 7) Also Today In History: Another Assault In Laramie
(Oct 7) Today In History: “Baby, I’m So Sorry This Happened”
(Oct 6) Today In History: Before Matthew Shepard

Today In History: Armbands and Scarecrows

Jim Burroway

October 10th, 2008

Ten years ago today fell on a Saturday. For four days now, Matthew Shepard has continued to cling to life. He’s comatose, and breathing with the aid of a ventilator.

This day was also Homecoming Day for the University of Wyoming in Laramie, where Matthew had been a student. The homecoming parade consisted of the usual procession of floats and marching bands, but the final group to march in the parade was a late addition. It consisted of a disorganized group of about a hundred people — students, teachers, university employees, and townspeople. Many of them wore yellow and green armbands. As they marched quietly by at the conclusion of the parade, spectators began to step off the sidewalks and joining in. By the time the parade reached campus, somewhere between five hundred to eight hundred people had joined the march.

Later that day, there was a moment of silence at War Memorial Stadium just before the start of the game. UW players bowed quietly as they held their helmets at their sides. The helmets bore special emblems designed by the University Multicultural Committee in honor of Matthew.

Ten years ago today was also Homecoming Day at Colorado State University in Fort Collins — the very city in which Matt lay comatose and surrounded by family. CSU’s parade however was a little different. A float co-sponsored by the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and the Alpha Chi Omega sorority carried a scarecrow decorated with anti-gay epithets. The signs hung on the scarecrow reportedly read “I’m Gay” and “Up My Ass.” CSU quickly punished eleven students and banned the two organizations from campus.

Meanwhile, Poudre Valley Hospital continued to issued medical updates on Matthew’s condition, like this one at 3 p.m.:

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.

That was followed by another medical update at 9 p.m.:

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.

Matthew’s parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard, remained by his bedside and continued to refuse all requests for interviews. Instead, they released a statement thanking “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.”

The statement went on the recall Matthew’s life and the values that he held:

“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.

They thanked the sheriff’s department and the hospital staff, and they asked the media for privacy, saying, “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.”

While Matt’s parents focused all of their efforts on their son, an estimated five hundred people gathered outside the hospital to keep vigil for him. The hospital has received so many flowers that nurses had started to distribute bouquets to other patients.

In Washington, D.C., President Bill Clinton and House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt both issued statements contemning the attack and calling on Congress to amend the hate crimes law to include sexual orientation.

Very little has changed since ten years ago. Pi Kappa Alpha was reinstated at Colorado State University about a year and a half after that infamous homecoming parade, only to be expelled again in 2005. Alpha Chi Omega’s charter for the CSU house was permanently revoked by the national organization. It now appears unlikely they will ever return to CSU.

Ten years later, the federal hate crimes law continues to cover race and religion. It still doesn’t cover sexual orientation.

And ten years later, Wyoming still doesn’t have a state hate crimes law to cover sexual orientation either.

See also:
(Oct 16) Today In History: Rest In Peace
(Oct 13) Today In History: “Something In the Culture”
(Oct 12) Today In History: Matthew Wayne Shepard (Dec 1, 1976 – Oct 12, 1998)
(Oct 11) Today In History: The Vigil
(Oct 10) Today In History: Armbands and Scarecrows
(Oct 9) Also Today In History: Details Emerge
(Oct 9) Today In History: “We Just Wanted To Spend Time With Him”
(Oct 8) Today in History: Two Men Arrested
(Oct 7) Also Today In History: Another Assault In Laramie
(Oct 7) Today In History: “Baby, I’m So Sorry This Happened”
(Oct 6) Today In History: Before Matthew Shepard

Today In History: “We Just Wanted To Spend Time With Him”

Jim Burroway

October 9th, 2008

Ten years ago today, Dennis and Judy Shepard, exhausted by their long travel and numbed by the news, stepped into the intensive care unit of Poudre Valley Hospital and saw their son, Matthew Shepard, for the first time since seeing him off to college just a few months earlier.

Dennis and Judy were in Saudi Arabia, where Dennis worked, when they got a call in the middle of the night. Phone calls in the middle of the night is never good news. For Dennis and Judy, the news was beyond imagination — beyond belief. The Shepards had to endure a nineteen hour wait for a flight to begin their long thirty-hour journey to Fort Collins, Colorado. During that long flight home, they had no idea that news of Matthew’s beating had made headlines worldwide. They saw that it was front-page news when they arrived in Ft. Collins, but they didn’t know the extent of the attention nationwide.

When they got to the hospital, staff had to sneak them in to avoid the press. Once they got inside the hospital, the outside world disappeared.

“That sort of information just washes over you when you are trying to be there for your son,” Shepard said of the media attention showered on her family. …

“Dennis likened it to a prairie fire; it went so fast,” Shepard said of the media explosion and the mythology that blew up around her son’s death.

National networks came, national and regional newspapers posted correspondents in Laramie. Radio stations also joined in the fray.

“I just felt it was invasive and improper when we just wanted to spend time with him,” she said.

What Dennis and Judy saw must have been devastating. His aunt and uncle had earlier describe Matthew’s appearance to the press as as horrifying, with wounds concentrated on his head and face. The most severe blow was inflicted with a gun and probably caused irreparable brain damage, R.W. Eaton said. “He looks like hell,” Roxanne 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.”

Doctors encouraged the family to bring familiar items to Matthew’s bed, in case he still had some lingering awareness. So they filled his room with sunflowers and the music of John Fogerty and Elton John. Judy wore the perfume he had given her for Christmas.

That same evening in Laramie, people gathered for candlelight vigil. The news bulletins and medical updates from Poudre Valley Hospital were grim.

See also:
(Oct 16) Today In History: Rest In Peace
(Oct 13) Today In History: “Something In the Culture”
(Oct 12) Today In History: Matthew Wayne Shepard (Dec 1, 1976 – Oct 12, 1998)
(Oct 11) Today In History: The Vigil
(Oct 10) Today In History: Armbands and Scarecrows
(Oct 9) Also Today In History: Details Emerge
(Oct 9) Today In History: “We Just Wanted To Spend Time With Him”
(Oct 8) Today In History: Two Men Arrested
(Oct 7) Also Today In History: Another Assault In Laramie
(Oct 7) Today In History: “Baby, I’m So Sorry This Happened”
(Oct 6) Today In History: Before Matthew Shepard

Today In History: Two Men Arrested

Jim Burroway

October 8th, 2008

Ten years ago today, on October 8, 1998, Laramie, Wyoming police arrested Aaron James McKinney and Russell Arthur Henderson, both 21, and charged them with attempted murder, kidnapping and aggravated robbery of Matthew Shepard.

McKinney’s and Henderson’s girlfriends, Chasity Vera Pasley, 20 and Kristen Leann Price, 18, were also arrested and charged with being accessories after the fact. Police said the women women helped McKinney and Henderson dump their bloody clothing.

Albany County Sheriff Gary Puls announced the arrests of Henderson, Pasley, and Price at 4:30 in the afternoon. McKinney was arrested later at 11:30 pm at Pudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, where he had been treated for a skull fracture that he suffered during a fight early in the morning on the day before.

Meanwhile, ten years ago today, Matthew Shepard is in a coma at that very same hospital, where he remains in critical condition.

See also:
(Oct 16) Today In History: Rest In Peace
(Oct 13) Today In History: “Something In the Culture”
(Oct 12) Today In History: Matthew Wayne Shepard (Dec 1, 1976 – Oct 12, 1998)
(Oct 11) Today In History: The Vigil
(Oct 10) Today In History: Armbands and Scarecrows
(Oct 9) Also Today In History: Details Emerge
(Oct 9) Today In History: “We Just Wanted To Spend Time With Him”
(Oct 8) Today In History: Two Men Arrested
(Oct 7) Also Today In History: Another Assault In Laramie
(Oct 7) Today In History: “Baby, I’m So Sorry This Happened”
(Oct 6) Today In History: Before Matthew Shepard

Today In History: “Baby, I’m So Sorry This Happened”

Jim Burroway

October 7th, 2008

Ten years ago today at around 6:30 PM, Aaron Kreifels was riding his bicycle on Snowy Mountain View Road, just outside of Laramie, Wyoming, when he wiped out near the end of a rough buck-and-rail fence. In the fall, he severely damaged his front tire. Aaron got up to try to figure out how to get back into town when he was startled by what he thought was a scarecrow. He took a closer look and discovered that it wasn’t a scarecrow, but a 5-foot-2, 102 pound University of Wyoming student by the name of Matthew Shepard.

Aaron was further surprised to see that the bloody figure was still alive, though barely. Matthew was comatose, breathing “as if his lungs are full of blood,” Aaron would later testify. It had been a very cold day that day with a 30-degree freezing wind the night before, and it was now evening again. Matthew had been there for more than 18 hours, laying on his back, head propped against the fence, his legs outstretched. His hands were tied behind him, and the rope was tied to a fence post just four inches off the ground. His shoes were missing.

Aaron, in a state of panic, ran to the nearby home of Charles Dolan. From there, they called 911, and then the both of them returned to Matthew to wait for the sheriff’s deputy to arrive. Deputy Reggie Fluty later testified that the only spots not covered in blood on Matt’s brutally disfigured face were tracks cleansed by his tears. She told the barely breathing victim, “Baby, I’m so sorry this happened.”

Matthew was rushed to Poudre Valley Hospital’s intensive care unit in critical condition. He suffered fractures from the back of his head to the front of his right ear from being pistol-whipped by a 357-Magnum more than twenty times. He had severe brain stem damage which affected his body’s ability to control heart rate, breathing, temperature, and other involuntary functions. There were lacerations around his head, face and neck. He had welts on his back and arm, and bruised knees and groin. He had also suffered from hypothermia.

His injuries were too severe for doctors to operate. They did however insert a drain into Matthew’s skull to relieve the pressure on his brain.

By the end of ten years ago today, Matthew Shepard was laying quietly in a soft, warm bed with clean sheets after having spent eighteen hours in the freezing high plains of Wyoming tied to a fence post. He was breathing with the aid of a ventilator.

See also:
(Oct 16) Today In History: Rest In Peace
(Oct 13) Today In History: “Something In the Culture”
(Oct 12) Today In History: Matthew Wayne Shepard (Dec 1, 1976 – Oct 12, 1998)
(Oct 11) Today In History: The Vigil
(Oct 10) Today In History: Armbands and Scarecrows
(Oct 9) Also Today In History: Details Emerge
(Oct 9) Today In History: “We Just Wanted To Spend Time With Him”
(Oct 8) Today in History: Two Men Arrested
(Oct 7) Also Today In History: Another Assault In Laramie
(Oct 7) Today In History: “Baby, I’m So Sorry This Happened”
(Oct 6) Today In History: Before Matthew Shepard

Marilyn Musgrave Trailing in Polls

Hallelujah!!

Timothy Kincaid

October 3rd, 2008

Recall Marily Musgrave, the chief sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment? Get ready to say “Buh-bye”. The Washington Blade reports:

A poll published Aug. 28 by SurveyUSA found that 50 percent of respondents favored Markey while 43 percent favored Musgrave.

“Provoking Smile” Defense Rejected in Murder Case

Jim Burroway

September 19th, 2008

We’ve had some strange defense excuses in LGBT murder hate crime cases, excuses which often amount to blaming the victim. But the most outrageous example has to be this one: a defendant in a Denver-area murder case who complained that “she smiled at me.”

Yesterday, Weld County (Colorado) District Judge Marcelo Kopcow ruled against a motion to lower the charge in the case of murdered transwoman Angie Zapata from first degree murder to second degree murder. Her killers lawyers contended that the defendant, Allen Andrade, was provoked into killing her when she smiled at him:

Only when Andrade grabbed at Zapata’s crotch did he discover the truth. But when she smiled at him and said, “I’m all woman,” it drove an enraged Andrade to commit murder, attorney Annette Kundelius said.

“At best, this is a case about passion,” Kundelius said. “When (Zapata) smiled at him, this was a highly provoking act, and it would cause someone to have an aggressive reaction.”

Judge Kopcow ruled against the request, citing evidence that Andrade killed Angie deliberately, hitting her several times with a fire extinguisher. He also expressed anger against gays while in custody, and repeatedly referred to Angie as “it.” Judge Kopcow also declined to drop the hate crime charge in connection with the felony.

Jared Polis Wins CO Congressional Primary

Jim Burroway

August 13th, 2008

We’ve had so many “firsts” in the past decade or so that it now takes a lot more words to distinguish each new first from the one before. So here goes.

According to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, Jared Polis of Colorado will likely become the first openly gay man to be elected to the U.S. Congress as a non-incumbent. (Tammy Baldwin was the first out candidate to do this back in 1998.) Polis won the Democratic primary last night for Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. As the Democratic nominee in an overwhelmingly Democratic district, Polis is nearly certain to win the seat in November.

This is further evidence of mainstreaming of gays and lesbians in middle America. While many who consider themselves progressives dismiss the “flyover states” as backwards and homophobic, voters in Wisconsin and Colorado have demonstrated that they have no problem with electing an openly gay person to fill a seat in Congress.

Colorado Gets Non-Discrimination

Timothy Kincaid

June 2nd, 2008

The Denver Post reports

Gov. Bill Ritter today quietly signed a controversial bill expanding the prohibition of sexual-orientation-based discrimination, over the vocal opposition of conservative Christian groups like Focus on the Family.

The bill bans discrimination based on a person’s religious belief or sexual orientation – including transgender people – in places of public accommodation, housing practices, family planning services and 20 other public spheres. Such prohibitions are already in place with regard to race.

Ah, poor Dr. Dobson. He’s just not as influential as he once was. I guess if you are willing to sell out your integrity for some skirmish in a culture war you lose the reputation necessary to influence public policy.

Opponents said the bill would have serious consequences, such as opening up Colorado public restrooms and locker rooms to all genders and transgender people, exposing children and women to sexual predators.

I guess Coloradans saw that none of these things happened in any of the other states to ban discrimination and figured Dr. Dobson was just lying again.

One State Reverses Position on CA Marriage Decision Stay

Timothy Kincaid

June 2nd, 2008

Last week the Attorneys General of ten states united to request that the Supreme Court of California stay its decision to treat all citizens equal under the law until November: Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah. They claimed that if California allowed gay couples to marry that this would create havoc and confusion for the court systems in their own states.

Immediately one state stood out from the others.

Although not all of these states have anti-gay marriage clauses in their constitution, only one state, New Hampshire, has taken efforts to offer recognition to same-sex relationships. And New Hampshire already had taken legislative steps to direct how out-of-state gay marriages would be treated – as civil unions.

Now it seems that the havoc and confusion caused by gay marriage in New Hampshire has been cleared up. Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, has now been apprised of the law in her state.

The Boston Globe reports

[O]n Saturday, Attorney General Kelly Ayotte announced that New Hampshire was withdrawing from the request because the state addresses the recognition issue in its civil union law.

She said under the law, New Hampshire will recognize a legal gay marriage from California as a civil union.

Ten State Attorney Generals ask California Supreme Court to Stay Marriage Decision

Timothy Kincaid

May 30th, 2008

The Attorneys General for the states of Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah have petitioned the Supreme Court of California to stay their marriage equality decision (place it on hold) until November. They argue that citizens of other states will marry in California and come home to sue their own state for recognition.

“We reasonably believe an inevitable result of such ‘marriage tourism’ will be a steep increase in litigation of the recognition issue in our courts,” Utah Attorney General Mark L. Shurtleff wrote in the brief submitted on behalf of the 10 states.

However their argument fails on three fronts.

First, they assume that voters in November will reverse this decision. That result is not a foregone conclusion. And there is no reason to believe that these Attorneys General would be any more prepared for ‘marriage tourism’ in November than they are today; it’s hardly been a secret that the Supreme Court was considering this case. And if they aren’t prepared, then they have no right to punish gay couples for their own ineptitude.

Second, the federal DOMA provides states protection from just such a challenge. If there is any challenge, it would be to federal law, and federal law is not going to change between now and November.

Third, the California decision has not raised any new risk to their states’ entrenched discrimination. There is nothing to stop a legally married Massachusetts couple from moving to New Hampshire today and suing for recognition.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor of California, and Jerry Brown, the Attorney General of California, agree that this issue has been resolved and oppose a stay. Marriage equality is supported by the California Lieutenant Governor, the California Senate, the California House, and a majority of the California voters.

So to you outsiders I say: Go home. You are not Californians. Your constitution is not our constitution. Your laws are not our laws. Your values are not our values. Your biases are not our biases. Stop being meddlesome busy-bodies and leave the citizens of the State of California alone.

Denver Marriage Sit-In Particpants And Ex-Gay Survivor Activists To Speak Sunday At Soulforce Event

Daniel Gonzales

May 29th, 2008

Denver residents Kate Burns and her partner Sheila Schroeder will be speaking Sunday at MCC of the Rockies about last year’s sit-in at the county clerk’s office. Since the focus of the gathering is on Soulforce activism also speaking will be ex-gay survivor activists Daniel Gonzales and Christine Bakke.

MCC Of The Rockies
(10th & Clarkson in Denver)
Sunday, June 1st from 1-3pm

This forum is after the normal Sunday service so there won’t be any religion for those of you averse to such things.

Colorado Springs Gazette Defends Paul Cameron

Jim Burroway

April 28th, 2008

Certified Cameronite AwardThis was shocking. Two weeks ago, the Colorado Springs Gazette defended Paul Cameron against the Southern Poverty Law Center’s naming his Family Research Institute a hate group:

The story about elevated hatred included a list of Colorado hate groups, as identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center – a thoroughly discredited organization that labels organizations with opposing political philosophies as hate mongers.

The new Colorado list includes the Colorado Springs-based Family Research Institute. The conservative fundamentalist organization is headed by Paul Cameron, a psychologist and reviewer for the British Medical Journal, Psychological Reports and the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association. The organization’s mission is “to generate empirical research on issues that threaten the traditional family, particularly homosexuality, AIDS, sexual social policy, and drug abuse.”

There’s no question about it: The Family Research Institute opposes homosexuality, and goes out of its way to discourage and besmirch it. It’s controversial, ideological, politically incorrect and unpopular. But is it a hate group, like the Ku Klux Klan or a Nazi skinhead club? Far from it.

Far from it? Really? Cameron has more in common with a Nazi skinhead club than the Gazette seems to realize. Perhaps the editors of the Gazette needs to look over his 1999 article in which he admires how Nazi Germany (and specifically Rudolph Höss) “handled homosexuals” in Dachau and Sachsenhausen.

Instead of casting aspersions against the Southern Poverty Law Center and coming to the defense of a man who proposes similar draconian “solutions” for homosexuality in this country, the Gazette ought to consider engaging in a practice we like to call journalism. A hate group like a Nazi skinhead club? It’s exactly like a Nazi skinhead club.

The editorial board of the Colorado Springs Gazette is the latest to join our growing list of Cameron supporters. And I’ll once again ask the question I ask everyone who joins the list: Do the Gazette’s editors agree with Cameron’s draconian agenda?

Hat tip: Mike Airhart.

Colorado Senate Passes Discrimination Law

Timothy Kincaid

April 18th, 2008

Today the Colorado Senate expanded anti-gay discrimination protections.

The measure (Senate Bill 200) takes the state’s current anti-discrimination laws and adds sexual orientation to the list of things, such as race or national origin, that can’t be considered. It would be illegal to deny gays and lesbians everything from apartment rentals and a seat in a restaurant to burial plots.

This is a preliminary vote and a second vote is required before it goes to the House.

Opponents argued that they saw no evidence of discrimination against gay people. Un-huh. Guess you ain’t been lookin’.

Colorado Gunman Scared Co-Workers, Heard Voices

Jim Burroway

December 10th, 2007

The more we learn about Matthew Murray, the gunman who killed four and wounded five more in Arveda and Colorado Springs yesterday, the more tragic the story becomes. The latest information suggests mental illness:

[Richard] Werner, of Balneario Camborius, Brazil, said he had a bunk near Murray’s and that Murray would roll around in bed and make noises.

“He would say, ‘Don’t worry, I’m just talking to the voices,’ ” Werner said. “He’d say, ‘Don’t worry, Richard. You’re a nice guy. The voices like you.’ ”

…Peter Warren, director of Youth With A Mission, said Monday that Murray did not go on the mission he was training for in 2002 because managers thought that “issues relating to his health made it unsafe for him to do so.”

I’m no mental health professional, but this has a bit of déjà vu about it. My best friend since second grade slowly descended to schizophrenia during middle school and high school. I can’t even begin to describe how agonizing it was to see a bright young man slip into a hellish world the rest of us can’t enter — or would want to. He’s okay now, living in a group home and staying on his meds. It’s easy to feel sorry for him — I often do — but compared to so many others he’s relatively lucky.

There are so many victims all around in this sad episode in Colorado: those who were killed or wounded, those terrorized by the horror of what happened, their families and friends… and now this. Imagine, if you possibly can, the long, drawn-out nightmare that Matthew Murray’s family underwent. And yes, don’t forget Matthew himself.

See also:
Colorado Gunman Scared Co-Workers, Heard Voices
The LaBarbera Award: Tony Perkins
Prayers and Condolences for Arvada and Colorado Springs
Four Shot At New Life Church
Two Christian Missionaries Killed, Two Injured Near Denver

The LaBarbera Award: Tony Perkins

Jim Burroway

December 10th, 2007

Good Lord, what should we make of this? I received an FRC Action E-mail from Tony Perkins, as I often do. There’s an article praising Mike Huckabee, there’s another one chastising Congress, and then at the bottom, Perkins says this:

An Assault On Faith
It is hard not to draw a line between the hostility that is being fomented in our culture from some in the secular media toward Christians and evangelicals in particular and the acts of violence that took place in Colorado yesterday. But I will say no more for now other than that our friends at New Life Church and YWAM are in our thoughts and prayers.

It looks like Perkins has been chomping at the bit to pin the blame for the Colorado shootings on somebody he doesn’t like. When it comes to culture wars, nobody is safe, and no tragedy is off-limits for exploitation. Here he chose the old familiar bogeyman, “the secular media.” We’re lucky I guess. It could have just as easily been anyone else.

I’m not sure how Perkins found it so easy to “draw a line” between the secular media and Matthew Murray, the Christian-raised guy who actually did the shooting. Unlike the FRC, we won’t imagine any lines where none exist. (Update: The most direct line so far may be mental illness.) And we call on the Family “Research” Council to live up to its name and do a little research before releasing statements that are so patently moronic. Why, they’re beginning to sound like someone else we know…

Here is a screenshot of the E-mail. Click on it to see the full-size version.FRC Action E-mail

See also:
Colorado Gunman Scared Co-Workers, Heard Voices
The LaBarbera Award: Tony Perkins
Prayers and Condolences for Arvada and Colorado Springs
Four Shot At New Life Church
Two Christian Missionaries Killed, Two Injured Near Denver

Newer Posts | Older Posts