Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Joseph Eli Bearden Guilty on all charges for the murder of Ryan Keith Skipper–Life Sentence with No Parole imposed by Polk Country Florida Judge

Bearden reacts to life sentence for 2nd degree murder

Bearden reacts to life sentence for 2nd degree murder

February 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Comments Off on Joseph Eli Bearden Guilty on all charges for the murder of Ryan Keith Skipper–Life Sentence with No Parole imposed by Polk Country Florida Judge

Memorial Comment for Billy Jack Gaither

by Stephen V. Sprinkle

Billy Jack Gaither

January 21, 1960 – February 19, 1999

Sylacauga, Alabama

~ ~ ~

Billy Jack Gaither died like no one should ever have to die–in pain, in terror, and alone. Two unhappy, hate-filled young men took out their homophobia, and that of their community, state, and region upon a gentle, loyal, pious Alabamian. That was ten years ago.

For ten years now, members of his family, a small cadre of LGBT activists and scholars, and a group of brave citizens of Birmingham, have fought to keep Billy Jack’s memory alive. For the past few years, the Billy Jack Gaither Humanitarian Award, given annually, has sought to advance the cause of equality and justice for all people. This year, the Billy Jack Award will be conferred on its recipient in a ceremony at the state capital in Montgomery. He would have been surprised, pleased, and proud. I believe he would also be justly angry that ten years have come and gone since he was bludgeoned to death with a pick ax handle on the banks of Peckerwood Creek for no other reason than his sexual orientation, and Sweet Home Alabama still has not enacted an LGBT hate crimes law, nor has the United States of America.

A Rally in Alabama Urging Passage of Hate Crime Legislation

I believe I know what he would have to say about the failure of his state and nation to act justly and protect all citizens–he would say, “It ain’t right!”

Since Billy Jack’s hate crime murder, hundreds of men and women have paid the ultimate price for being true to the way God made them. “It ain’t right!”

The stories of too many LGBT hate crimes victims have been forgotten, without tenacious friends and family to keep the flame of their memories alive. “It ain’t right!”

Too many law enforcement officers and officers of the court still harbor homophobic attitudes. Too many otherwise good church folk, white, black, brown and yellow, still deny that God cherishes LGBT people as much as straight people. Too many gay and lesbian folk around the nation are asleep at the wheel, unengaged in demanding their human rights, in denial that violence against them is on the rise. “It just ain’t right!”

Billy Jack still lives, so long as the struggle for human rights goes on, so long as we remember him. As the LGBT anthem goes, “What have you done today that makes you feel proud?” Isn’t it time to start getting things right?

Stephen V. Sprinkle
The Unfinished Lives Project

February 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Ryan Skipper Trial Preview

Tru TV (Court TV) will be carrying the Joseph Bearden Trial live on cable starting Monday, February 15. Opening statements will be made then. The big news: Bearden’s defense team will argue that their client did not participate in the murder of Ryan Skipper. They will admit Bearden received stolen goods and tampered with evidence, but they are setting up William Brown, Jr., the other defendant, for the fall. Prosecution is choosing to make this a trial about theft for drug money, not for anti-gay reasons as the defendants admitted to witnesses at the time of the murder in March 2007. Once again, the state cannot face up the level of hatred LGBT people face on a routine basis throughout the nation.

Stay tuned.

February 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Comments Off on Ryan Skipper Trial Preview


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