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Comment of the Fortnight
11 October 1998
The Laramie Incident

By now you have probably read in the newspapers the story of Matthew Shepard, an openly gay student in Laramie, Wyoming, who was beaten and left for dead. (See CNN story for details.)

I posted to several Christian newsgroups asking them this:

How many of you christians out there are willing to state, simply, Just a simple: How many of you christians are willing to make that simple statement?

Now, please excuse me while I prepare myself for an absolutely deafening silence from the people who purport to follow the teachings of a loving and merciful Christ.

To date, I have received only two responses with the simple statement. All the other responses have added qualifiers, such as "HOWEVER, this does not mean that I endorse the radical homosexual lifestyle."

One person took me to task on my last pargraph, telling me that it was hate-filled and that the "real hatred would lie in allowing you or anyone else to slip off into eternity to face God's judgement without warning you."

I'm astonished that Christians, who always talk about moral absolutes, have to add qualifiers when talking about this case.

However, some people have acted responsibly in this case, and I believe in giving credit where it is due. Here is the text of letters which I am sending to the Laramie police department and Albany County attorney:

Police Commander David O'Malley
Laramie Police Department
Laramie, WY

Dear Commander O'Malley:

I thank you and your department for your swift action in apprehending the suspects in the beating of Matthew Shepard.

Although homosexuals and homosexuality may be disapproved of in Laramie--perhaps even by some members of your police force -- you were able to put those feelings aside ajnd see your duty to enforce the law. You understand that "to serve and protect" applies to everyone, no matter how popular or unpopular they might be.

Your action is in the finest spirit of law enforcement, and you deserve my thanks and congratulations.

The Honorable Mr. Calvin Rerucha
County Attorney
Albany County, Wyoming

Dear Mr. Rerucha:

Thank you for bringing the strongest possible charges against the suspects in the beating of Matthew Shepard.

Other attorneys in other states have, in the past, brought lesser charges or even refused to prosecute in simlar cases, simpy becuase the victim was homosexual.

Your actions show that you clearly understand that the phrase "equal justice under law" applies to everybody, popular or unpopular, gay or straight, saint or sinner.

You have my thanks and congratulations.

If you are interested in updates on Mr. Shepard's condition, see the hospital's news page.

A fund has been set up:

The family and friends of Matthew Shepard
c/o First National Bank
Fort Collins, Colorado

Oh, by the Way

I'm posting this on National Coming Out Day.

Update on 13 October 1998

Now it's murder, and all the far-right "christians" are coming out of the woodwork to fill the air with a firestorm of "howevers" and caveats. It's depressing, but not unexpected.

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