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Thousands Mourn Matthew Shepard at U.S. Capitol

Gary Bauer's Group Pumps Fundamentalist Hate in USA Today

GayToday Tells CNN & USA Today: "Dump Bigot-Liars Now!"

Compiled by Badpuppy's GayToday

Washington, D.C. -- Thousands of mourners gathered on the west steps of the U.S. Capitol Wednesday night to remember Wyoming hate crime victim Matthew Shepard. National lesbian and gay groups blame a climate of hate stirred up by right wing fundamentalist Christians, their front groups, and their Republican allies in the U.S. Congress. top1016.gif - 28.35 K Photo: Matthew Shepard Clearinghouse: Wired Strategies

Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student, was savagely attacked and left to die for up to 18 hours tied to a wooden fence outside Laramie, 30 miles northwest of Cheyenne. He passed away early Monday in a Fort Collins, Colorado hospital.

When Shepard was initially found, last Thursday, he was unconscious and his skull had been smashed with a blunt object. Two motorcyclists who found his body said he looked "like a scarecrow" because of the way he was positioned on the fence. Prior to this fatal attack, he had recently been beaten twice and attributed those attacks to his openness about his sexuality.

Washington's candlelight vigil, organized by HRC, GLAAD, and NGLTF, helped focus the nation's attention on the pervasive problem of anti-gay violence.

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Two of Matthew Shepard's Friends, Walter (l) and Alex (r), speak in favor of hate crime legislation outside the Capitol. Photo: Matthew Shepard Clearinghouse: Wired Strategies

HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch addressed the vigil: "This hate crime did not happen in a vacuum. We all know there has been a concerted, obsessive and well-resourced effort over the past few months to present gay and lesbian Americans as defective, imperfect and in need of conversion. We call on right wing groups to immediately stop the ad campaign that is pumping lies into every community in this country...they create a climate and environment of intolerance and give license to those who seek to vent their rage or frustration on an entire community.".

Several members of Congress attended the vigil including Senator Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., former Senator Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo. The law makers expressed their sorrow over Matthew's death and renewed calls for Congress to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA).

"Hate crimes legislation needs to be passed now," said Gephardt. The minority Leader then led the crowd in a chant, "now, now, now." Actresses Anne Heche, Ellen DeGeneres, Kristen Johnston, Third Rock from the Sun; Ellen's mom, Betty DeGeneres; actor Dan Butler, Frasier; and national civil rights leaders, also attended the rally.

"I can't stop crying. I am so devastated by this, I'm begging heterosexuals to see this as a wake-up call to please stem the hate. We shouldn't be asked to change who we are," said DeGeneres at the vigil.

bauer1.jpg - 3.99 K Gary Bauer on the Leher News Hour USA Today published an October 14 attack on the gay community by Gary Bauer's Family Research Council, a fundamentalist front and hate group, which called on USA Today readers to ignore calls for hate crime legislation. "Some homosexual activists are seeking to exploit this terrible crime to further their political aims," said the group's cultural "expert".

"The activists," he continued, "outrageously, are laying blame for the violence on a gentle ad campaign bringing the Christian message of hope and healing to those struggling with homosexuality. They also are calling for new federal laws…While such behavior deserves rebuke, it does not warrant the involvement of the FBI and federal prosecutors"

The Family Research Council's Gary Bauer, who plans a run for the Presidency in 2000, denigrates openly gay men and lesbians regularly as a guest of Time Warner's CNN. GayToday's editor, Jack Nichols, called upon both CNN and USA Today to cease giving airtime and print space for anti-gay ideologues such as Bauer and his allies like televangelist Jerry Falwell, whose commentaries promote a nationwide climate of violence for gay men and lesbians.

jackquote.gif - 20.97 K"CNN wouldn't be likely to give the Ku Klux Klan as much free airtime as it gives the vicious Gary Bauer if the KKKers were blithely preaching racial inferiority and hate, instead of the nutty fundamentalist concepts of sexual inferiority and hate that Bauer pushes to make money," said Nichols, who is also the author of The Gay Agenda: Talking Back to the Fundamentalists. "I hope readers will contact CNN and USA Today to explain this viewpoint."

He continued: "Too often mainstream media thinks it must present both sides of any debate. When is mass-circulation journalism going to grow up? Homosexuality isn't a disease. Gay men and lesbians deserve full rights as American citizens. Do CNN and USA Today think there's a debate about these facts?"

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