tagged w/ Matthew Shepard
And complains about the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act in the process.
By John Blake, CNN
May 5, 2010 4:05 p.m. EDT
Editor's note: To accurately portray the subject of this article and his critics, offensive language is quoted.
(CNN) -- He is the leader of "America's most hated family," a gaunt, craggy-faced preacher who displays "God Hates Fags" signs at the funerals of American troops, gay men and AIDS victims.
For at least 12 years, the Rev. Fred Phelps has led his Topeka, Kansas, church on a cross-country crusade against gays and lesbians. That crusade ignited a legal battle that has reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
But there is another Phelps that few know. He was a "brilliant" civil rights attorney in the 1960s who would take on racial discrimination cases that no other lawyers would touch, say longtime African-American civic leaders in Topeka.
He fought for the rights of blacks, they say, with the same passion he now reserves for the condemnation of gays.
"I don't know him anymore," says Joe Douglas Jr., an African-American activist in Topeka who became the city's first minority fire department chief.
"I see him out there, and I hear the venom that comes out of his mouth. If you had asked me in the '60s if he would do this, I would have said never."
The Rev. Ben Scott, president of the NAACP's Topeka branch, says he never heard Phelps talk about homosexuals during his work as a civil rights attorney.
Phelps declined to talk with CNN about his civil rights work or his ministry. But his daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, says there is no contradiction between her father's civil rights work and his ministry. That's because there's a distinct difference between gay people and black people, she says.
"You're born black. It's something you can't change even if you're Michael Jackson," she says. "God never said it was an abomination to be black."
Most of the members of Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church are members of his large family. Phelps has 13 children; 11 are attorneys. One son, Nate Phelps, is estranged from his father, and from organized religion. He is an atheist.
"He preached that we were the chosen ones but then he went out and treated people horribly," Nathan Phelps says.
His father first attracted national headlines in 1998 at the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming college student. Shepard was tortured and murdered for being gay. Fred Phelps and his church picketed Shepard's funeral, carrying signs that said Shepard was rotting in hell.
In 2006, members of Phelps' church appeared at the funeral of an American Marine killed in Iraq carrying signs reading "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and shouting at mourners.
Phelps' church claims the deaths are God's punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.
The family of the Marine sued Phelps' church the next year, alleging invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy. The case went to trial and a jury awarded the family $2.9 million in compensatory damages plus $8 million in punitive damages, which were reduced to $5 million.
That verdict, however, was reversed when Phelps' church appealed. In March, Supreme Court justices accepted an appeal from the father of the fallen Marine. The court is being asked to address how far entities such as cemeteries and churches can go in restricting demonstrators' right to free speech.
My account of hearing Judy Shepard speak about Matthew and his legacy.
According to Westboro Baptist Church’s GodHatesFags.com, gay murder victim Matthew Shepard has been in Hell (as I write this) for 4, 178 days.
The site informs readers that “All the candlelight vigils [and] all the acts of Congress … will not shorten his sentence by … one day, [and] will not buy him one drop of water to cool his tongue.’” It then urges readers, and of course, homosexuals, to have faith and repent.
Okay. It’s like George Michael said: You gotta have faith.
I have no problem with faith. I have faith in many things: I have it in my boyfriend, whom I know would only leave me for Chris Brown (That’s his one cheat. Mine’s James Marsden — he doesn’t bite or hit women); I have it in comic books, knowing that new issues will hit the stands every Wednesday; in my roommate, who’d do anything for me except get rid of that allergy-inducing sea-mule she calls a cat; and even in the writers of LOST. (They’ll pull it together somehow, right?)
I have no problem with faith at all. But what is wrong with most Christians?
Read more at http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/dailyloaf/2010/03/22/a-gay-in-the-life-love-thy-neighbor-even-if-theyre-christian/According to Westboro Baptist Church’s GodHatesFags.com, gay murder victim... more
Obama signs Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. http://bit.ly/gtsKh
President Obama has signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. The legislation is an expansion of existing federal law recognizing hate crimes. The Hate Crimes Prevention Act will provide more investigative resources and/or longer sentences for crimes driven by prejudice.Obama signs Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. http://bit.ly/gtsKh
President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed the first major piece of federal gay rights legislation, a milestone that activists compared to the passage of 1960s civil-rights legislation empowering blacks.
The new law adds acts of violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to the list of federal hate crimes. Gay-rights activists voiced hope that the Obama administration would advance more issues, including legislation to bar workplace discrimination, allow military service and recognize same-sex marriages.
Congress passed the hate crimes protections as an unlikely amendment to this year's Defense Authorization Act. Obama, speaking at an emotional evening reception with supporters of the legislation, said that more than 12,000 hate crimes had been reported the past decade based on sexual orientation.
The expanded federal hate crimes law was added to a $680 billion defense authorization bill that Obama signed at a packed White House ceremony.
The hate crimes measure was named for Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming teenager who died after being kidnapped and severely beaten in October 1998, and James Byrd Jr., an African-American man dragged to death in Texas the same year.
Shepard's mother, Judy, was among those at the ceremony that also included Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Attorney General Eric Holder and leading members of Congress and the Pentagon, who were on hand for the appropriations bill signing.
To loud applause, Obama hailed the hate crimes measure in the bill as a step toward change to "help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray."
He cited the work of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and others "to make this day possible."
Several religious groups have expressed concern that a hate crimes law could be used to criminalize conservative speech relating to subjects such as abortion or homosexuality. However, Holder has said that any federal hate-crimes law would be used only to prosecute violent acts based on bias, not to prosecute speech based on controversial racial or religious beliefs.
Former President George W. Bush had threatened to veto a similar measure, but Obama brought a reversal of that policy to the White House.
When the bill won final congressional approval last week, Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese called the hate crimes measure "our nation's first major piece of civil rights legislation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people."
Earlier this month, Obama told the Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest gay rights group, that the nation still needs to make significant changes to ensure equal rights for gays and lesbians.
More @ linkPresident Barack Obama on Wednesday signed the first major piece of federal gay rights... more
It's not easy to get 35 Republican senators to vote against defense spending -- unless hate crimes legislation is involved.
The Senate narrowly invoked cloture on Thursday, 64 to 35, on the defense authorization package with the bill named for Matthew Shepard attached. The bill, named for a gay Wyoming teenager who was kidnapped and beaten to death in 1998, makes it a federal crime to assault someone on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
lIt's not easy to get 35 Republican senators to vote against defense spending --... more
Last week, House Republican Leader John Boehner objected to House passage of a bill that would expand hate crime laws and make it a federal crime to assault people on the basis of their sexual orientation.
"All violent crimes should be prosecuted vigorously, no matter what the circumstance," he said. "The Democrats' 'thought crimes' legislation, however, places a higher value on some lives than others. Republicans believe that all lives are created equal, and should be defended with equal vigilance."Last week, House Republican Leader John Boehner objected to House passage of a bill... more
"The Laramie Project — one of the most-performed plays of the last decade — is based on the true story of Matthew Shepard, the young man who, in October 1998, was savagely beaten and left to die in Laramie, Wyo. Almost instantly, Shepard's name became a kind of grim rallying cry for those drawing attention to hate crimes committed against gays.
Now there's an epilogue to The Laramie Project, and tonight more than a hundred theaters around the country will perform readings of the new play. Together with the first one, it constitutes a powerful version of Matthew Shepard's story.
But it's not the only version — and that's a big part of why the epilogue exists.
Matthew Shepard's savage killing was used to strengthen the argument for hate-crimes legislation. But meanwhile, another version of his story was gathering steam.
Six years after the crime, the ABC newsmagazine 20/20 set out to debunk the idea that Shepard was murdered because he was gay. Like The Laramie Project, the one-hour episode included interviews with Shepard's friends, as well as investigators assigned to the case. ABC's Elizabeth Vargas interviewed Shepard's killers, Aaron McKinney and Russ Henderson, both serving life sentences.
Shepard, 20/20 reported, may have used methamphetamine. The report said that McKinney had been a dealer. "Meth is what made the world go around in Laramie," a friend of McKinney's and a former dealer told Vargas.
20/20 also reported that McKinney and Henderson had been on a meth binge in the days before meeting Shepard. And prosecutor Cal Rerucha told 20/20 that "the methamphetamine just fueled this point where there was no control. So, it was a horrible, horrible, horrible murder. But it was a murder that was driven by drugs."
Playwright Moises Kaufman believes the 20/20 story was "terrible journalism" that "changed the nature of the dialogue." So one of his goals with the new Laramie Project epilogue was to debunk the 20/20 story.
Kaufman and his Tectonic colleagues went back to Laramie last year, re-interviewing many of the people they'd met a decade ago — as well as talking to some new sources.
"One of the things we do in the play," says Kaufman, "is we go back and ask investigators ... and we go back over trial transcripts, and we prove that it was a hate crime."
The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later includes the comments of Rob Debree from the Albany County Sheriff's Office in Laramie.
"We've proven that there were no drugs on board with McKinney and Henderson — just none," Debree declares. And what about the claim that Shepard's murder was a robbery and drug deal gone bad? "That's some kind of massive denial," one openly gay Laramie resident tells Tectonic Theater.
Laramie police commander Dave O'Malley, who also appears in the 20/20 episode, says: "It angered me more than anything the things [ABC] didn't say — the things they left out."""The Laramie Project — one of the most-performed plays of the last decade... more
President Obama discusses the progress of gay rights at a Human Rights Campaign fund raising dinner. The day after his speech, 150,000 to 200,000 activists marched in Washington, D.C. to promote equal rights for all.
For more news video by Current TV visit http://current.com/President Obama discusses the progress of gay rights at a Human Rights Campaign fund... more
"The creators of “The Laramie Project,” the acclaimed play about the 1998 murder of a 21-year-old gay man, Matthew Shepard, are finishing work on an 80-minute epilogue to the original work that will be given its debut simultaneously at dozens of theaters across the United States on Oct. 12, the 11th anniversary of Mr. Shepard’s death.
Moisés Kaufman, the playwright and director who, with his Tectonic Theater Project company, wrote and produced the first “Laramie Project,” said the epilogue would explore the impact of the Shepard killing on the residents of Laramie, Wyo., where it occurred. The dialogue will be drawn from interviews with dozens of people there, some of whom were involved in the crime, including Aaron McKinney, who was convicted of murdering Mr. Shepard and who gave an interview to the Tectonic artists.
Tectonic’s goal is to recruit 100 regional theaters, universities and other arts organizations to hold staged readings of the work, which is called “The Laramie Project — 10 Years Later.” More than 40 theaters have committed to the readings, including Arena Stage in Washington, Seattle Repertory Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theater and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. The Tectonic company will hold its performance in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center.
“We’re also taking advantage of contemporary technology so that at the New York performance we’ll be connected to the other productions across the nation via the Internet,” Mr. Kaufman said. “We’re giving each production a video recorder so that they can document the event, and we’ll be answering questions live from across the country,” after the performances on Oct. 12, a Monday.
Mr. Kaufman and his epilogue co-writers — Stephen Belber, Leigh Fondakowski, Andy Paris and Greg Pierotti — returned to Laramie last fall to reinterview several townspeople who originally gave accounts to Tectonic in 1998 about Mr. Shepard, Mr. McKinney and the events preceding and following the murder. Those accounts were threaded together verbatim to create “The Laramie Project,” which has had several thousand productions since it opened Off Broadway in 2000.
In writing the new work Mr. Kaufman and his colleagues said they would reflect the range of views currently held by Laramie residents and others about whether Mr. Shepard’s murder was a hate crime by two homophobic men (Mr. McKinney and his accomplice, Russell Henderson) or the result of a botched attempt by the two men to rob Mr. Shepard.
Mr. Kaufman declined to reveal details of the interview with Mr. McKinney, who, like Mr. Henderson, is now serving two consecutive life sentences. The two men lured Mr. Shepard from a Laramie bar on the night of Oct. 6, 1998; Mr. Shepard was ultimately tied to a fence, pistol-whipped and left to die.
“As always, what we found defied expectations,” Mr. Kaufman said. “It’s a fallacy to try to define Laramie the way one would describe an individual. There are 27,000 people in Laramie. There are at least 27,000 Laramies.”
“But one of the things that was very clear from the start is the question of how does one measure change,” he continued. “Is it in the number of public monuments that have been erected? Is it in the number of laws that have been passed? Is it in the number of people whose views have been changed?”""The creators of “The Laramie Project,” the acclaimed play about the... more
Matthew Shepard was a student at the University of Wyoming who was murdered near Laramie, Wyoming in 1998. His murder shocked the nation and spurred activism against anti-gay violence.
The Matthew Shepard Act, or the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, passed Congress. If signed by President Barack Obama, the act will expand the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
Barack Obama will sign this bill into law shortly, unless he has some sort of sudden change of heart. Basically, attacking someone for his/her sexual orientation will now be a federal offense, akin to attacking someone because of his/her skin color.
Some conservatives who opposed the act originally did so fearing that this act would muzzle free speech regarding homosexuality. They were afraid that making comments stating that homosexuality is immoral would be construed as inciting violence against them.
The act as passed contains the following provision, “Nothing in this Act…shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment to the Constitution.” The inclusion of this provision alleviated some concerns regarding the prohibition of speech regarding homosexuality.
How do you feel about the Matthew Shepard Act? Should anti-gay crimes be viewed as the same as racist crimes?Matthew Shepard was a student at the University of Wyoming who was murdered near... more
This story examines my hometown's reaction to its high school production of The Laramie Project. The play about a Wyoming town's reaction to the 1998 hate murder of Matthew Shepard has made the topic of intolerance one of public debate and the controversy surrounding this local production has caused heated discussion throughout the community of West Des Moines. The students of Valley High School involved in the play have found themselves at the center of this debate and many have realized the power they have to spread positive change.This story examines my hometown's reaction to its high school production of The... more
6 years ago
Conservative Christian leaders are opposing a bill that would provide federal hate-crimes protection for the gay and lesbian community. The hate crimes legislation would provide special funding to state and local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute hate crimes, and expand protection for the first time to gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals and the mentally and physically disabled.
The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, named for a gay man killed for his sexual orientation in Wyoming, would allow the Justice Department to assist in the prosecution of hate crimes committed against minorities that result in death or serious injury.
Christian conservatives have raised fears that pastors would be prosecuted for inciting hate crimes if they preach against homosexuality, despite assurances that the law only targets physical violence. To stop the legislation, a few Christian leaders have suggested repealing all hate-crimes law, which would undo historic protections for race and even religion. Many Christian conservatives claim hate-crimes laws are unconstitutional.
Is the Mathew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act necessary? Are laws against hate-crimes constitutional?Conservative Christian leaders are opposing a bill that would provide federal... more
Notorious fundamentalist extremist group Westboro Baptist Church led by Rev. Fred Phelps have been told they may be prevented from entering the UK.
Known for their homophobic pickets all around the United States declared earlier this week that they intend to fly across the Atlantic to protest outside a performance of "The Laramie Project" - a play profiling the life of murdered gay teenager Matthew Shepard.
David Henry, director of youth campaign group, Queer Youth Network has contacted local police asking them to consider enforcing hate-crime legislation to prevent the hard-line church from casing a breach of the peace. The group are planning a counter-protest if Phelps does indeed gain entry to the UK. He commented "Our members and local people will make it clear this type of defamation and hate-mongering is not welcome anywhere - and here in the UK we're hoping they won't even get the chance to step foot on British soil". "We'd like to hear the Home Secretary assure people that Phelps will not be granted a visa".
Activists and Youth Groups, followed by local MP Maria Miller, MP for Basingstoke, contacted the Home Secretary after she was inundated by emails from concerned constituents, fearing Phelps would be inciting violence against gay people - something that is now illegal in the UK.
Dutch MP Geert Wilders was last week refused entry to the United Kingdom on the grounds that his views contained similar messages of discrimination that could incite incidences of hate crime towards Muslims. As his plane landed at Heathrow he was instantly approached by board officials and put on the next place back to Amsterdam.Notorious fundamentalist extremist group Westboro Baptist Church led by Rev. Fred... more
Does SNL realize that "fire pon a batty boy" means killing homosexuals?
I thought the rest of this skit was hilarious, but that hateful line ruined it for me. Much of Jamaica's dancehall music is homophobic and it's very sad. Many Jamaican artists are turning away from this type of hate and skits like this perpetuate it. Also, I wonder if white Rastafarian's generally encourage murdering gays?
It's one thing (not good) when an individual artist spews hate, but when a popular show like SNL does it, it becomes more institutionalized (worse).
Imagine the reaction they would have gotten if the joke was lynch blackie!
I realize this is humor, but that part didn't seem funny to me.
Maybe as satire this says something important, what do you think?Does SNL realize that "fire pon a batty boy" means killing homosexuals?... more
Deafening Silence over murders by homosexuals
On November 21, William Smithson, 43, of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to life in prison for the September 2006 strangulation murder of 23-year-old Jason Shephard. Smithson, a homosexual, murdered Shephard after slipping him GHB, a date rape drug, then hid the body in the basement of his home.
It is ironic that liberals used the murder ten years ago of Matthew Shephard to push for hate crimes laws -- yet remain largely silent about the murder of Jason Shephard
Two other murders committed by homosexual men have met with relative silence in the homosexual community -- the murder of 13-year-old Jesse Dirkhising in Arkansas in 1999, and the 2002 murder of Mary Stachowicz in Chicago.
The liberal media and gay activists are manipulating the public opinion by manipulating the news on a daily basisDeafening Silence over murders by homosexuals
On November 21, William Smithson, 43,... more
An enraged Allen Ray Andrade beat 21-year-old Angie Zapata with his fists and a fire extinguisher after he discovered Zapata, who gave him oral sex the day before, was physically a man, say Greeley police.
Allen Ray Andrade never referred to his alleged victim as a she or he. Just "it."
That alone speaks to the brutality of the crime committed against 21-year-old Angie Zapata, said a group that has been speaking for Zapata's family.
"You get the sense that maybe he wasn't seeing Angie as a person," said Crystal Middlestadt, director of Training and Education for the Colorado Anti-Violence Program. "Then you get an idea of the violence behind this act."
An enraged Allen Ray Andrade beat 21-year-old Angie Zapata with his fists and a fire... more