Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Unfinished Lives Book Debuts in DC and Dallas

Interfaith Peace Chapel on the Campus of Cathedral of Hope, Dallas, Texas

Washington DC – Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims, made its debut at the annual meeting of the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy this past Friday. Dr. Stephen Sprinkle will kick off a series of book signing events nationally, beginning with a lecture, panel discussion, book signing and reception at the Interfaith Peace Chapel on the campus of the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, Texas, next Sunday, March 27. The Cathedral of Hope, a congregation of the United Church of Christ, is the world’s largest LGBTQ-predominant faith community. Members of the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy, meeting at the headquarters of the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, received the book with enthusiasm. Dr. Sprinkle was a guest at the 19th Annual Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Dinner, held at the National Building Museum on F Street. A stellar gathering of LGBTQ heroes and their allies celebrated the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and honored two mothers of gay servicemembers who were murdered because of their sexual orientation. Dorothy Hajdys-Clausen of Chicago Heights, Illinois, the mother of slain sailor Allen R. Schindler, and Pat Kuteles of Kansas City, Missouri, mother of murdered soldier Barry Winchell, were given a standing ovation.  A chapter on Schindler, “Hell to Pay on the Belleau Wood,” is in Unfinished Lives, and Winchell has been featured in this blog repeatedly. A panel discussion is planned for the March 27th book signing event at the Interfaith Peace Chapel in response to a short lecture by Dr. Sprinkle.  Dr. Keri Day, Assistant Professor of Theological Ethics and Director of Brite Divinity School’s Black Church Studies Program, Pastor Alex Byrd of Living Faith Covenant Church of Dallas, and Colonel Paul Dodd, U.S. Army  Chaplain (Ret) of Austin will be on the panel. The event is scheduled from 3:30 until 5:30 pm.  Dr. Sprinkle will be signing his book following the 9 am and the 11 am services at the Cathedral that morning in the Sources of Hope Bookstore. Cathedral of Hope is located at 5910 Cedar Springs Road in Dallas. For more information about the book signings on Sunday, March 27, contact Sue Schrader at sschrader@cathedralofhope.com, or Brian Parman at bparman@cathedralofhope.com.

March 20, 2011 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Cathedral of Hope, Forum on the Military Chaplaincy, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Program, Illinois, Lesbian women, military, Military Chaplaincy, Missouri, Remembrances, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, Unfinished Lives Book Signings, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Unfinished Lives Book Debuts in DC and Dallas

Sharon Groves Named HRC Religion and Faith Director

Dr. Sharon Groves

Washington, D.C. – The Unfinished Lives Project Team is happy to announce the appointment of Dr. Sharon Groves as Director of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation Religion and Faith Program, effective immediately.

The following is from Betsy Pursell, Vice President for Public Education and Outreach at HRC:

“I am very pleased to announce that Sharon Groves has been named as the next Director of the Religion and Faith Program at HRC.

“Sharon’s appointment comes following a several month, national search that garnished well over 80 well-qualified candidates.  Sharon was hired five years ago by Harry Knox and together they have built one of the strongest and most respected platforms in the country to mobilize and empower progressive clergy and lay leaders to work for LGBT equality. In her five years at HRC, Sharon has been instrumental in creating key resources such as Out In ScriptureGender Identity in Our Faith Communities, Putting Faith into Action: Building Marriage Equality One Day at a Time and LaFamilia, a Spanish-language resource to engage the Latina/o community in LGBT equality efforts. Sharon created the vision and implemented the plans for HRC’s highly successful Clergy Call program and was key in bringing together religious leaders in DC to support marriage equality.

“In addition, Sharon has become a respected and well-loved coalition builder as evidenced by the many unsolicited letters of support on her behalf with comments such as, ‘Sharon has been unfailing warm, supportive, gracious, efficient and prompt in every single dealing;’ ‘a consummate networker for justice;’ ‘great public face for the religious community;’ and ‘really understands the power and potential of religion in America.’  Those of us at HRC who have worked closely with Sharon couldn’t agree more, and I know that you will join me in congratulating Sharon on her well-earned and highly deserved promotion.”

Signed:// Betsy Pursell

Vice President, Public Education and Outreach

Human Rights Campaign

1640 Rhode Island Ave, NW

Washington, DC 20036

www.hrc.org

Office: 202-216-1512

February 16, 2011 Posted by | Bisexual persons, gay men, Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Program, Lesbian women, Social Justice Advocacy, Special Comments, transgender persons, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Sharon Groves Named HRC Religion and Faith Director

Breaking News: Senate Passes Key Procedural Vote Allowing for Repeal of DADT

Washington, DC – By a vote of 63-33, the U.S. Senate has voted to close debate on the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Democrats were joined by four GOP Senators in the vote. One Democrat, Senator Manchin of West Virginia, who is opposed to the repeal, sat the vote out. Overcoming the procedural opposition to Repeal clears the way for final passage of Repeal by a simple majority (51), a vote that may occur as early as today. An identical bill for repeal was passed earlier in the week by the U.S. House of Representatives. Presuming passage of the Repeal Act in the Senate, the bill will go on to the desk of President Obama who has vowed to sign it into law. In the 17 years since Congress voted DADT into law (the most discriminatory law in the federal canon), 13,500 service men and women have been drummed out of the armed forces for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

December 18, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Breaking News: Senate Passes Key Procedural Vote Allowing for Repeal of DADT

Anti-LGBT Junk Suit Fails Against Shepard Hate Crimes Law

Washington, D.C. – Human Rights Campaign Back Story reports that a suit brought against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act failed in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Michigan.  The suit, put forward by Michigan pastors and the American Family Association of Michigan, challenged the constitutionality of the Shepard Act in February of this year.  Among its claims, the suit alleged that the Shepard Act forecloses on the free exercise of fundamental rights of those who “publicly oppose homosexual activism, the homosexual lifestyle, and the homosexual agenda.”  Further, the law suit argues that the Shepard Act creates “thought crimes” and “is an effort to eradicate religious beliefs opposing the homosexual agenda.”  The three Michigan pastors claimed that the law had chilled their rights under the First Amendment, the Tenth Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause, and the Commerce Clause.  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called upon the court to dismiss the case, arguing that the Shepard Act does not violate the rights of Americans, and was passed to protect LGBTQ people in this country from physical violence, not thought or speech.  The judge hearing the case agreed with Attorney General Holder, and dismissed the case as meritless on all counts on September 7.

September 8, 2010 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bisexual persons, gay men, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Human Rights Campaign, Legislation, Lesbian women, Matthew Shepard Act, Michigan, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia, U.S. Justice Department, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Anti-LGBT Junk Suit Fails Against Shepard Hate Crimes Law

Sean Kennedy: Travesty of Justice Could Have Come Out Differently If Shepard Act Had Been In Place

 

Sean & Blue tie

Sean William Kennedy, 20

Washington, DC – Elke Kennedy and her husband, James Parker, were invited by the Human Rights Campaign to represent their slain gay son, Sean William Kennedy, at the ceremonies marking the enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Law at the White House.  In a statement issued on Sean’s Last Wish, web site for the foundation established following the brutal murder of their son, the Greenville, South Carolina couple issued this statement:  “Elke and Jim are honored to represent the LGBT community in memory of their son Sean Kennedy, who was the victim of a hate crime on May 16, 2007 in Greenville, SC. Sean’s Last Wish foundation considers this a privilege to be the voice and represent the LGBT community as we continue to fight against hatred, bullying, violence and religious bigotry.”  In one of the most egregious abuses of justice in recent years, Sean Kennedy’s murderer, Stephen Moller, was indicted only for involuntary manslaughter and sentenced on June 11 2008 to a 5 year sentence suspended to three years, and received credit for the 199 days he served in county lock-up. He was supposed to stay in prison till September 7, 2009, but received 2 month credit for good behaviour by getting his GED while in prison.  The court was sympathetic to Moller because he had fathered a child who was born while he was serving his shortened sentence, and released him a week earlier than his abridged sentence even called for.  Had there been a Matthew Shepard Act on the books at the time of the Moller trial, federal officials could have intervened, investigated the murder as the anti-LGBT hate crime it was, and tried the defendant under a hate crime charge of murder.  South Carolina, however, never has enacted an anti-LGBT hate crimes prevention law, which coupled with local anti-gay attitudes, caused the breach of justice in the Sean Kennedy case.  Now, thanks to the lobbying of bereaved families like Sean’s, hate crimes against gay people have a fighting chance of being tried and punished in their true context.

October 29, 2009 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Social Justice Advocacy, South Carolina, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Sean Kennedy: Travesty of Justice Could Have Come Out Differently If Shepard Act Had Been In Place

Second Alleged Killer of Ryan Keith Skipper on Trial in Florida

 

William_Brown_trial_cu

William D. "Bill Bill" Brown on trial

Bartow, FL – Entering its third day, the felony murder trial of William D. “Bill Bill” Brown, 23, is underway in the Polk County, Florida Courthouse.  Brown is the second alleged murderer of Ryan Keith Skipper, a 25-year-old gay college student, who died of 19 stab and slash wounds on a desolate road in Wahneta, Florida in March 2007.  The first trial, that is Joseph “Smiley” Bearden, in February of this year ended with his conviction on all counts and a life sentence in state prison.  Ironically, Skipper’s murder is not being tried as a hate crime, though many including his parents, Lynn and Pat Mulder of Auburndale, contend that their son’s assailants chose him because he was a gay man.  The same judge and prosecutor who tried the Bearden case are trying the Brown case, as well.  In a surprise move by the defense on October 26, Brown pleaded guilty to arson (setting fire to Skipper’s car to destroy evidence), and evidence tampering, which could earn him a total of 20 years at sentencing.  He is still on trial for robbery and first degree murder, which could sentence him to life in prison, just like his accomplice.  The Mulders came to Bartow to attend the Brown trial two days after the wedding of Ryan’s older brother, Damien.  Though they were personally invited to attend the October 28 signing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act by President Obama in Washington, DC, a law they had vigorously lobbied to see enacted, the Mulders declined the invitation in order to be present for the trial in Polk County.  Their son Damien and his wife attended the ceremony at the White House in their stead, and were greeted by President Obama, along with Matthew Shepard’s parents, Judy and Dennis, and William Sean Kennedy’s mother, Elke Kennedy.  In communication with the Unfinished Lives Project, Lynn Mulder said that during the first days of the trial, Cass Casstillo, the prosecuting attorney, presented evidence conclusively linking Brown to the murder, including finger prints, shoe impressions, and testimony from others who heard him admit to “stabbing someone.”   Brown has contended that Skipper, whom he knew was gay, touched his “private parts,” irritating him, but denied that he killed his 25-year-old neighbor, who lived barely two blocks from his trailer home in rural Wahneta.  On Wednesday, the prosecution rested.  The Judge gave the jury the next two days off, telling them according to Mulder that the defense would present a short case with one or no witnesses on Monday, such that closing arguments would probably be offered then, and the case would go to the jury on Tuesday, November 3.  Vicki Nantz, lesbian activist from Orlando, and director/co-producer of the acclaimed Ryan Skipper Documentary, Accessory to Murder: Our Culture’s Complicity in the Death of Ryan Skipper, noted to reporters that had there been a Matthew Shepard Law on the books, Skipper’s murder could have been tried as the anti-gay hate crime it was, instead of burying the true motive of the slaying.  Nantz and others have provided a detailed trial summary day-bay-day with links to media reports at the Ryan Skipper Documentary site.  Speaking to the press, Ryan’s mother, Pat, said she wanted it known that her son “was killed by hate.”  She urged the public to help end such lethal hate, because if it were not ended, hatred would kill others.  His father, Lynn, said that Ryan would have approveof the new law protecting LGBT people from hate crimes.  “He would see the value in that,” Mulder said,”that everybody was protected equally under the law, and he would be very proud that the bill was signed into law.”

Ryan and Damien Skipper

Ryan and his brother, Damien Skipper

 

 

 

 

 

October 29, 2009 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Florida, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Social Justice Advocacy, South Carolina, stabbings, Washington, D.C., Wyoming | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Second Alleged Killer of Ryan Keith Skipper on Trial in Florida

President Obama Keeps Promise, Signs Shepard/Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act

Obama&GeorgeWashington, DC – 20 years of advocacy and struggle issued today in a powerful moment when President Barack Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law.  USA Today reported the comments of the President, both at the signing event, and at a later ceremony honoring the new law.  “After more than a decade of opposition and delay, we’ve passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray or who they are,” Obama said as he signed the Act.  Commenting later in the day, he said to supporters of the new law, “No one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hand of the person they love.” He then cited statistics that in these past 10 years since the hate crime murder of Matthew Shepard, there have been more than 12,000 hate crimes based on sexual orientation. “We will never know how many incidents were never reported at all,” the President concluded.  Social justice advocates from all over the nation hailed the moment, as well. The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT rights advocacy organization, reported that representatives of the Shepard family and the Byrd family were present at the signing event with the President.  Judy Shepard remarked, “We are incredibly grateful to Congress and the president for taking this step forward on behalf of hate crime victims and their families, especially given the continuing attacks on people simply for living their lives openly and honestly.  But each of us can and must do much more to ensure true equality for all Americans.”  Stella Byrd, mother of straight African American hate crime victim, James Byrd, Jr., for whom the Act was also named, followed Mrs. Shepard with her remarks, “We appreciate everyone who worked so hard on this bill.  My son was taken at such an early age and we hope this law will help prevent other families from going through what we experienced. Even though we’re different colors and different sexual orientations or gender identities, God made us all and he loves us all.”  According to other reports, Damien Skipper, brother of slain gay Floridian Ryan Keith Skipper, and Elke Kennedy, mother of Sean Kennedy, murdered gay hate crimes victim from Greenville, South Carolina were among other bereaved family members present at the events.  HRC President Joe Solmonese made these observations to the press: “This law honors our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters whose lives were cut short because of hate. Today’s signing of the first major piece of civil rights legislation to protect LGBT Americans represents a historic milestone in the inevitable march towards equality.  Although this is a major step in fighting the scourge of hate violence, it is not the end of the road.  As a community, we will continue to dedicate ourselves to changing not only laws but also hearts and minds.  We know that hate crimes not only harm individuals, but they terrorize entire communities.  After more than a decade of advocacy, local police and sheriffs’ departments now have the full resources of the Justice Department available to them.”  Solmonese concluded, “We applaud President Obama for signing this bill into law and thank the leadership and our allies in the House and Senate.   We also will always remember the tireless efforts of Senator Edward Kennedy on this issue.  Senator Kennedy once said that this legislation sends ‘a message about freedom and equality that will resonate around the world.’   This marks the first time that we as a nation have explicitly protected the LGBT community in the law.  And this law sends a loud message that perpetrators of hate violence against anyone will be brought to justice.”

Not only was this an historic moment in the history of human rights advocacy in the United States.  The action of President Obama marks a significant milestone in the relatively short history of his administration.  The enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act is the first major promise to the LGBT community that the President has kept.  During his campaign for the presidency, Obama repeatedly made promises to LGBT people that he would expand, protect, and defend their rights.  Many LGBT activists have been critical of the seeming slowness of the President and the Congress to keep faith with homosexual and transgender Americans, who voted in record numbers to support the Democratic ticket this past year.  Many other important promises remain unfulfilled by the Obama administration: enactment of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t tell (DADT) which the Secretary of the Army suggests is now doable, and repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  The enactment of the Shepard/Byrd Act, however, is a powerful indication the President will make his promises good to some of his most loyal supporters, and the significance of this day should not be lost on his LGBT critics.

October 29, 2009 Posted by | African Americans, Bisexual persons, DADT, ENDA, Florida, gay men, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Law and Order, Legislation, Lesbian women, Matthew Shepard Act, military, Politics, Social Justice Advocacy, South Carolina, transgender persons, Washington, D.C., Wyoming | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

See How Your Senators Voted on the Matthew Shepard Act

Visit http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=s2009-327 for more information.

Standard projection from GovTrack

Standard projection from GovTrack

October 24, 2009 Posted by | Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, U.S. Senate, Uncategorized, Washington, D.C. | , , , , | Comments Off on See How Your Senators Voted on the Matthew Shepard Act

Senate Acts on Matthew Shepard Act: Bill Goes to Obama’s Desk

We the PeopleWashington, DC – In a historic vote Thursday, the United States Senate voted 68-29 to approve the Matthew Shepard Act, broadening federal protection from hate crimes to LGBT people.  The Shepard Act, which had already passed in the United States House of Representatives two weeks ago by a similarly wide margin, was approved by the upper house as a part of a mammoth Defense Appropriations Bill.  President Obama has repeatedly signaled that he favored extending hate crimes protections to LGBT people, and is expected to sign the bill as early as next week.  Senator Patrick Leahy, (D) Vermont, a sponsor of the bill, said to the New York Times “Hate crimes instill fear in those who have no connection to the victim other than a shared characteristic such as race or sexual orientation.  For nearly 150 years, we have responded as a nation to deter and to punish violent denials of civil rights by enacting federal laws to protect the civil rights of all of our citizens.”  Leahy also noted how appropriate a tribute the passage of the Shepard Act is to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who championed the cause of equality for LGBT Americans for many years.  Ten Republicans voted with the Democratic majority for the passage of this historic legislation.  The lone Democratic Senator to vote against passage was Russ Feingold, (D) Wisconsin, who favored the Shepard Act, but opposed the increased funding of the military action in Afghanistan.  The Shepard Act commits $5 million annually to the Justice Department to assist local communities in investigating hate crimes, and it allows the agency to assist in investigations and prosecutions if local agencies request help.  It also permits the Justice Department to carry out hate crimes investigations in localities where law enforcement neglects or stymies such action for prejudicial reasons.  Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew Shepard, the 21-year-old University of Wyoming student for whom the Act was named, has been a tireless advocate for the passage of hate crimes protections for LGBT people since Matthew was slain by two young men in Laramie in 1998. Speaking to the press, she said, “Dennis and I are extremely proud of the Senate for once again passing this historic measure of protection for victims of these brutal crimes. Knowing that the president will sign it, unlike his predecessor, has made all the hard work this year to pass it worthwhile. Hate crimes continue to affect far too many Americans who are simply trying to live their lives honestly, and they need to know that their government will protect them from violence, and provide appropriate justice for victims and their families.”  All eyes now turn to President Obama for his signature that will enact the Matthew Shepard Act into law, the most significant lift to the LGBT community in the United States in forty years.

October 23, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Hate Crimes, Law and Order, Matthew Shepard Act, Politics, Social Justice Advocacy, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C., Wyoming | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Senate Acts on Matthew Shepard Act: Bill Goes to Obama’s Desk

The End of the Beginning: How the Passage of the Matthew Shepard Act Transforms Us

shepard_smallResearching LGBT hate crimes for four years has changed my life.  Now that the passage of the Matthew Shepard Act is imminent, I feel another sort of change coming: to my work, to the LGBTQ community, and to my country.  For decades, families, loved ones, law enforcement officers, and social justice advocates have prayed for, labored for, and agitated for a federal law extending protection to queer folk victimized by anti-LGBT violence.  Tens of thousands of Americans, straight and gay, have labored tirelessly for this result.  Our well-practiced shoulders are again set to the task, and with one more great heave, the first major expansion of legal protection against physical harm for vulnerable Americans in the 21st century will make it across the finish line.  The end of the beginning has come at last.  No more than that, and no less.

The dead are beyond further physical harm.  So many hundreds have died at the hands of the ignorant, the malicious, and the sincerely bigoted.  Gay Charlie Howard drowned in Bangor, Maine.  Lesbian Talana Kreeger, manually disemboweled in Wilmington, North Carolina. Navajo Two-Spirit youth, F.C. Martinez, Jr., brained with a 25-pound rock in a blind canyon in Cortez, Colorado.  African American transwoman, Duanna Johnson, shot down in a Memphis, Tennessee alley.  Pfc. Barry Winchell, murdered by a fellow soldier with a baseball bat at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, on the suspicion that he was gay.  And the archetype of them all, young Matthew Shepard, pistol-whipped into a coma and left to die, tied to the foot of a buck fence in Laramie, Wyoming.  For every victim whose name is remembered, scores of anonymous others have died, their agonies unreported, their names forgotten.

What will change for all these victims of hate, once the Shepard Act becomes law?  And, what about their families, lovers and spouses—what will change for them?

For the dead, the change will come subtly, like a gift of dignity.  The Shepard Act is not only for the living.  Those who have died at the hands of hatred will finally receive a measure of vindication.  No longer will they be merely the debris of social history.  Their stories will be told with renewed passion, and more and more people will want to know who they were.  Their lives will take on a greater sense of meaning to the LGBTQ community, who will find encouragement to embrace these dead as their own—just as blacks, Jews, and other besieged peoples have embraced their fallen friends and family members.  As these LGBTQ victims have become my teachers in my quest to recover their stories and the meaning of their lives, the queer community will find new strength for justice by remembering them.

For the families and loved ones of these victims, perhaps a measure of peace will come at last.  Their loss, of course, is incalculable.  Their pain is beyond reckoning.  I have seen the furrows in their brows, the lingering sadness in their eyes.  As Ryan Skipper’s mother Pat said to me, there is no closure for her and those like her.  The change will come, I suspect, with a sense of honor, and a quiet assurance that their beloved will have not died in vain.  When the Shepard Act finally passes, I will think first of all about the valiant witness of the mothers—women who never sought the spotlight, but who fought back tears to learn how to speak out for their children and for everyone else’s children.  Signing day in President Obama’s office will be most of all for Judy Shepard, Pat Mulder, Elke Kennedy, Pauline Mitchell, Denise King, Kathy Jo Gaither and everyone else whose flesh and blood have consecrated the moment of passage.

Those who believe in justice will feel the change, too.  The LGBTQ community will be challenged to mature and take their place among communities of survivors, witnesses who understand that it takes hard work to make hope become real for everyone.  At the stroke of a pen, the entire LGBTQ community will experience the greatest lift since the Stonewall Rebellion forty years ago.  But that will not be all.  The America I know and love will encounter change on the day the Shepard Act becomes law, too.  Summoned by the angel of justice, the American people will face the challenge to make the promise of the Constitution come true for their transgender, gay, bi, and lesbian neighbors and friends.

Passage and signing the Matthew Shepard Act into law will not magically stop the killing.  Record numbers of LGBTQ Americans, especially young transgender people of color, are dying violently all across the land.  But the high water mark of hatred will be scotched with the stroke of a pen on the day President Obama keeps his promise and signs the bill.  The end of the beginning of full equality for my people will come.  And we who believe in justice will not rest until it comes.

~ Stephen V. Sprinkle, Director of the Unfinished Lives Project

October 16, 2009 Posted by | Hate Crimes, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Politics, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , | 3 Comments

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