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Matthew Shepard: 13 Years Ago Tonight, Was Attacked, Left For Dead

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Matthew Shepard was brutally, savagely, and fatally attacked 13 years ago tonight, possibly exactly thirteen years ago at the very moment you are reading this now. It took a battle of eleven years to get what became the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act to pass and get signed into law. Thirteen years ago, Matthew Shepard, a gay, 21 year-​old college student who stood 5′ 4″ tall, and weighed just one hundred pounds, was lured out of a bar by two men claiming to be gay. He was robbed, pistol whipped, brutally beaten and tortured, and tied to a fence like a scarecrow and left for dead until someone came by and found him in a coma eighteen hours later. (At first they thought he was a scarecrow.) Matthew died six days after his inhuman hate crime assault. His two assailants did this to Shepard because he was gay. They are now in jail. These are facts. They have been proven many times over.

Via Wikipedia:

“Shepard suffered a fracture from the back of his head to the front of his right ear. He had severe brain stem damage, which affected his body’s ability to regulate heart rate, body temperature and other vital signs. There were also about a dozen small lacerations around his head, face and neck. His injuries were deemed too severe for doctors to operate. Shepard never regained consciousness and remained on full life support. As he lay in intensive care, candlelight vigils were held by the people of Laramie.”

John Aravosis at AMERICAblog reminded me of this, as he writes tonight,

He wasn’t found for nearly a day, still barely alive in the 30 degree weather, the only part of his face not covered by blood was where the tears had streamed down. The attack on Matthew, and his subsequent death a few days later, was a galvanizing moment for the gay community. It was one of only a handful of moments I can think of, in the twenty years that I’ve been out, that something changed in all of us, nationwide, at a much larger, meta level.

Within a day of hearing of the story I set up a Web site to help coordinate news about his attack.  It was called Matthew Shepard Online Resources.  The site, and its accompanying bulletin board, quickly became the main organizing point for our community and our allies, and for a good year it advocated for amending the US’ already existing hate crimes law to include gender, disability and sexual orientation.  The Republicans blocked legislation, and it wouldn’t become law for another eleven years.

The Republicans did block legislation, and in typical GOP style, lied about the facts.

On April 30, 2009, I wrote,

“The hate crimes bill that’s called the Matthew Shepard Bill is named after a very unfortunate incident that happened where a young man was killed, but we know that that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery. It wasn’t because he was gay. This – the bill was named for him, hate crimes bill was named for him, but it’s really a hoax that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills.”

So said Rep. Virginia Foxx (R –NC) yesterday in a full session of the U.S. House of Representatives, in her bid to defeat the “Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009”, H.R. 1913, better known as the Matthew Shepard Act. There was one special guest in the House too: Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mother.

For Virginia Foxx to lie to the world, and to Matthew’s mother, is not only unacceptable, it is unforgivable. And it is time for Virginia Foxx to resign.

At the time, Keith Olbermann called Rep. Foxx’s statement “The most despicable thing said on the floor of the House in decades.” He goes on to say, “She is at best callous, insensitive, criminally misinformed, at worst, she is a bald-​faced liar… She is not worthy to represent this country… she is our shame.”

A few days after Foxx’s lies on the floor of the House of representatives, The New York Times wrote, “Luckily, Ms. Foxx is part of a dwindling — if still too vocal — minority. A Hart Research poll released in February 2007 found that 73 percent of those surveyed support hate-​crimes legislation that protects gays.”

In the weeks that passed, we started a group called FireFoxx, which still exists, although we’ve moved on to covering other anti-gay haters. On May 27, 2009, I penned this letter demanding Foxx resign. She never responded.

Rep. Virginia Foxx also never fully apologized for her out-right blatant and hate-filled lies. Nor has she resigned. In their “wisdom,” the people of North Carolina have seen fit to re-elect Rep. Foxx, who since has delivered even more hate and more lies to the American people.

Despite her lies, and those of other Republicans, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act passed and was signed into law five months later, almost to the day.

Sadly, Shepard endured unimaginable torture. Sadly, Matthew Shepard died, on a cross, literally, but not metaphorically. Shepard did not die for our sins, he died by the sin of others: the sin of anti-gay hate, the sin of lack of compassion, the sin of lack of empathy, and the sin of ignorance.

Rest in peace, Matthew Shepard.

 

 

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COMMENTARY

Evangelical Pastor With Ties to DeSantis Denies He’s Endorsing Biblical Call for Death to Gays

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A Florida pastor with ties to GOP Governor Ron DeSantis insists his recent remarks attacking U.S. Senator Ted Cruz should not be viewed as an endorsement of the biblical call for gay people to be executed. But he’s not saying he is opposed to it either.

As The Daily Beast first reported, Tom Ascol, the senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida, blasted the Texas Republican Senator, who surprised many when he called Uganda’s new “Kill the Gays” law “horrific & wrong.”

“Any law criminalizing homosexuality or imposing the death penalty for ‘aggravated homosexuality’ is grotesque & an abomination. ALL civilized nations should join together in condemning this human rights abuse,” Cruz actually tweeted.

That would be the same Ted Cruz who in 2015 claimed gay people were waging a “jihad” against Christians.

Pastor Ascol, who delivered the invocation at Governor DeSantis’ second inauguration, has been called the man who could bring evangelicals from Donald Trump and deliver them to Ron DeSantis.

On Tuesday Ascol tweeted, “Tell it to God, Ted.”

READ MORE: Watch: Ron DeSantis Travels to New Hampshire to Claim Kids Are Being ‘Forced’ to Choose Pronouns

He then quoted the Book of Leviticus, writing: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”

“Was this law God gave to His old covenant people ‘horrific and wrong’?” Ascol asked.

Ascol two hours later tweeted, “Amazing how many professing Christians, even self-designated ‘conservative’ ones, are embarrassed by God’s Word. Just quote some unpopular words of God & watch what happens. Many so-called Christians react the same way that unashamed unbelievers do. It’s a commentary.”

Cruz did not reply, but some others did.

David Smith, whose Twitter bio reads, “25 yrs trusting Jesus!” replied: “We no longer live under the Levitical laws @tomascol.”

“If so, we would have to apply the same standard to adultery. (Leviticus 20:10) I agree that all of these things are sin, but where does grace come in? Jesus was clearly in no hurry to condemn in John 8:1-11.”

Pastor Ascol apparently liked the reply from Steven Hasty, which reads: “Many of you are missing the point. If you’re understanding this Tweet to mean Pastor Tom thinks we should start executing homosexuals, you’re missing it. Instead, he’s challenging the standards of Cruz. Where does Cruz derive his standards?”

READ MORE: ‘Barking’: DeSantis Mocked as His Crew Races to Protect Him From Criticism After He Attacks Reporter

Apparently whether or not it’s acceptable to execute LGBTQ people isn’t an issue (except it is, since the entire “debate” its based on Uganda’s new “Kill the Gays” law.)

“Pastor Tom” told Hasty, “You are exactly right. Some people don’t read carefully. Others, evidently, don’t reason well. Thanks for clarifying & accurately expressing what I *actually* wrote. Keep pressing on.”

Ascol didn’t say whether or not he supports the execution of LGBTQ people, he’s merely debating, as Hasty put it, “standards.”

The Daily Beast also reports, “Ascol’s tweet…certainly seemed to suggest that the execution of gay people had a biblical blessing,” and notes that “even on careful reading, most reasonable people would assume Ascol was suggesting that Uganda’s anti-gay law is not intrinsically ‘horrific and wrong.'”

Ascol, The Beast adds, “has repeatedly called for homicide charges against any woman who has an abortion for whatever reason. He has compared choosing to terminate a pregnancy to retaining a killer for hire.”

“’It’s like saying if I don’t murder someone, but I just contracted a murderer to murder someone, I’m not culpable,’ Ascol said on a Christian radio show in 2022.”

The tweet posted to the top of Ascol’s Twitter page says, “If your commitment to the authority of Scripture is limited by cultural sensitivities then it’s not really Scripture’s authority to which you are committed.”

Supporting or opposing the execution of LGBTQ people isn’t about “cultural sensitivities.”

 

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‘Barking’: DeSantis Mocked as His Crew Races to Protect Him From Criticism After He Attacks Reporter

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Continuing his official presidential campaign kickoff this week, Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis delivered a speech to New Hampshire voters Thursday morning but refused to take questions from the audience. Afterward, when a reporter simply asked why, DeSantis blasted him, saying repeatedly, “Are you blind?” because he was talking to individual supporters at the time.

The candidate’s campaign team immediately swarmed to protect him on social media.

NBC News senior national political reporter Jonathan Allen on Twitter posted the video (below) and wrote that DeSantis had “lashed out at a reporter for asking him about it while he was chatting with members of the crowd individually.”

At NBC News, Allen’s headline reads: “Ron DeSantis loses his temper with a reporter: ‘Are you blind?'”

Allen reports DeSantis “became noticeably agitated” and “lashed out at a reporter — twice barking ‘Are you blind?'”

The reporter who had asked DeSantis why he wouldn’t take questions was Steve Peoples, chief political reporter for The Associated Press, who tweeted: “Here in Laconia, NH at his first stop in state as presidential candidate, DeSantis speaks for 58 minutes. He takes no questions from audience.”

READ MORE: Grassley Admits He Doesn’t Care if GOP’s Accusations Against ‘Vice President Biden’ Are True or Not – He Vows to Pursue Them

“People are coming up to me, talking to me,” DeSantis said. “What are you talking about? Are you blind? Are you blind? People are coming up to me, talking to me whatever they want to talk to me about.”

Allen adds that the Florida governor’s decision to not take questions “was surprising and frustrating to some Republicans who came to hear DeSantis speak.”

On social media, many were also not impressed.

“Some of us warned that DeSantis wasn’t ready for the national media or public spotlight, that he had been coddled in Florida for far too long, and that his media team of Pushaw, Redfern, et al spend too much time trolling on Twitter and not helping him,” observed MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan.

But the question really is why wouldn’t a candidate for president, who has been in politics for over a decade, be excited to talk to prospective supporters and take their questions, especially given the history of states like New Hampshire and Iowa, where establishing that personal relationship historically has been critical to the success of a candidate’s campaign?

Former federal prosecutor, former DeSantis administration official, and former Republican Ron Filipkowski noted, “Ron DeSnowflake lost his cool again and had another freakout. This guy can’t deal with people.”

READ MORE: ‘Absolutely Blockbuster Evidence’: Experts Stunned Over Trump ‘Espionage Act’ Bombshell That Pressures ‘DOJ to Indict’

Observing DeSantis is “so out of his depth,” former journalist Ed Moltzen writes: “There are towns in New Hampshire with the official title ‘Town Moderator’ – people who assist with fielding audience questions to political candidates during forums. That’s how much open Q & A is in the political DNA of New Hampshire.”

Huffpost White House correspondent S.V. Dáte had warned, “Just watch. DeSantis’ social media arsonists will fan this interaction for days.”

And indeed, DeSantis’ crew was quick to attack, which Dáte pointed to.

Governor DeSantis’ press secretary Bryan Griffin quickly moved to falsely frame the interaction.

“This @AP reporter asked this question while @RonDeSantis was surrounded by voters in New Hampshire asking him questions and taking pictures,” Griffin tweeted. “Perfectly illustrative of the modern media shutting their eyes and ears to the truth to push their narrative.”

The question was clearly about DeSantis’ refusal to take questions from the audience, so the audience could hear his answers.

Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’ far-right former press secretary who moved to his presidential campaign as his rapid response director, responded to Griffin to attack the reporter.

“Very diplomatic of you to refer to the AP activist as a reporter!” she said.

But journalist Marcus Baram replied to Griffin: “You KNOW what the reporter meant.
Not a meet-and-greet with lots of people in a crowded room.
Questions asked in a setting where the person has time to ask the governor without distractions, and he has the time to respond with a substantive answer.
Campaigning 101.”

Watch DeSantis below or at this link.

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Grassley Admits He Doesn’t Care if GOP’s Accusations Against ‘Vice President Biden’ Are True or Not – He Vows to Pursue Them

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Promising to continue his demands on FBI Director Chris Wray, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) admitted on Thursday he does not care whether or not conservatives’ accusations against President Joe Biden are true or not.

Grassley and House Oversight Committee Chairman Jim Comer have teamed up to pursue what they claim is a document held by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that allegedly accuses President Biden of a corrupt act.

The two Republicans have been ratcheting up their attacks on FBI Director Chris Wray, threatening him with contempt of Congress if he does not hand over the alleged document, which Grassley calls an “unclassified, FBI-generated record alleging a criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Joe Biden and a foreign national.”

On Wednesday, Director Wray, according to Grassley and Comer, discussed the document with them, and has offered to allow them to view it in person. He is, they say, still refusing to release it to the House Oversight Committee. It’s unclear why Grassley is even involved; he is not a ranking member on any Senate Committee that has oversight responsibilities for the FBI, except the Budget Committee.

READ MORE: ‘Absolutely Blockbuster Evidence’: Experts Stunned Over Trump ‘Espionage Act’ Bombshell That Pressures ‘DOJ to Indict’

House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jamie Raskin (D-MD) requested to join Grassley and Comer on the call Wednesday, but Comer reportedly refused to allow him access, Punchbowl News’ Max Cohen reported. NBC News also reported Comer refused to allow Raskin to join the call with Director Wray.

Ranking Member Raskin in a statement characterized the lone document as containing “unsubstantiated, second-hand claims,” and called it a “tip.”

Noting Director Wray’s “extraordinary accommodations” to Comer and Grassley, “and the fact that Republicans have claimed to have access to the very information subpoenaed,” Raskin points out in his statement, “Chairman Comer has continued to insist he will hold the FBI Director in contempt.”

“It is increasingly clear that Committee Republicans have always planned to hold Director Wray in contempt of Congress to distract from the obvious fact that they do not have evidence to support their unfounded accusations against President Biden. This latest political maneuver underscores Chairman Comer’s determination to use the Committee to help former President Trump’s reelection efforts and pander to extreme MAGA Republicans.”

Cohen also reports Raskin said, “Chairman Comer has crafted a hyper-partisan narrative that depicts the FBI as obstructionist. This is a radical distortion of the situation.”

CNN reports that even then-Attorney General Bill Barr questioned the validity of the alleged document, which “has origins in a tranche of documents that Rudy Giuliani provided to the Justice Department in 2020, people briefed on the matter said.”

READ MORE: ‘Sure Wasn’t by Drag Queens’: DeSantis Slammed for Ignoring Florida Mass Shooting That Included Children

“We can’t take anything we received from Ukraine at face value,” Barr said at the time.

“While the 1023 form documents the claims from the informant, it doesn’t provide proof that they are true, people briefed on the matter said. The FBI and prosecutors who reviewed the information couldn’t corroborate the claims,” CNN adds.

“The allegations of wrongdoing by the then-vice president, many originating from sources in Ukraine, were dubious enough that Attorney General William Barr in early 2020 directed that they be reviewed by a US attorney in Pittsburgh, in part because Barr was concerned that Giuliani’s document tranche could taint the ongoing Hunter Biden investigation overseen by the Delaware US attorney.”

Ian Sams, a White House spokesperson, told CNN Chairman Comer “has already admitted this isn’t about uncovering facts but about trying to hurt the President’s poll numbers, so the only question left is how long he will waste time, energy, and taxpayer dollars to support a fact-free politically-motivated goose chase simply to get media attention and the Fox News spotlight.”

Indeed, late last month Comer appeared to tell Fox News that his investigations into Hunter Biden are actually designed to help Donald Trump win the 2024 presidential election.

Asked by Fox News if his investigations are “what’s moved this needle with the media?” – meaning Biden’s poll numbers, Comer replied: “Absolutely. There’s no question.”

“You look at the polling, and right now Donald Trump is 7 points ahead of Joe Biden and trending upward, Joe Biden’s trending downward,” he said, referring to one poll. “And I believe that the media is looking around, scratching their head, and they’re realizing that the American people are keeping up with our investigation.”

Meanwhile, Senator Grassley also appeared on Thursday to make clear he was not interested in the validity or accuracy of the claim against “Vice President Biden.”

“We aren’t interested in whether or not the accusation against Vice President Biden are accurate or not,” Grassley told Fox News, claiming his pursuit of the single document is merely to ensure “the FBI does its job.”

READ MORE: ‘Will Make a Great Trial Witness’: Experts Thrilled Jack Smith Is Investigating Trump’s Firing of Election Security Expert

Even the Fox News host sounded surprised.

“Senator, let me stop you right here. You just said you read the document, is that right?”

“Yes,” Grassley replied.

When asked what it said, Grassley refused to discuss it.

“I’m not going to characterize it,” he declared.

Watch below or at this link.

 

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