I know there are various negative opinions about Mathew Shepherd and most are based on speculation and the associated conjecture. Even if all of the gossips are to be believed and he was all of the dirty things I refuse to repeat , the kid was killed for one reason - because he was different in a place where different can still get you killed.
The people who oppose the Matthew Shepard Act which would add sexual orientation and gender identity use quips like " isn't every crime a hate crime " and other sarcastic remarks to convince everyday folks that the addition is a joke . Then there are the hypocritical Bible-beaters like Fred Phelps who celebrate hate crimes . But the largest group of people are people who think that it won't affect anyone they know. Now that's where they are wrong.
This guy was a friend of mine many years ago . His name is Shawn Keegan , but everybody called him Junior . He was a friendly little guy about 5'6" , and pretty innocent-looking . He was homeless for a time and used to crash on my couch , but he was no freeloader , just a previously lost kid who was getting his life in order . That is , until May 21st , 1996 , the day prior to my 20th birthday. It was just after midnight when he was picked up by Marcello Palma , but instead of a sexy time , Junior got a bullet to the head . The same asshole stalked and shot dead 2 other folks that night. The guy was under mental health treatment but somehow was still allowed to own the .357 magnum used in the murders as well as a huge cache of rifles and handguns . And then Palma ran like the coward he is. When he was caught , he had the privlidge of hiring superstar lawyer Eddie Greenspan to claim him to be mentally incompetent (He was directed to kill "scum" by G-d) and fight for his life . Brenda , Shawn's mother , loudly fought for justice for three young people who Palma thought he had silenced. Because of the hate crime enhancement , all three charges were upped to First-Degree murder (25 years to life , parole not probable) instead of second (10 years to life , parole probable) , and on April 20 , 2001 , Marcello Palma was convicted of all counts and will never see an barbed-wire-free existence . Unfortunately , the scumbag has become something of a "celebrity" with a following of right-wing religious nuts . And that is abhorrent to me . If any "good" can come from this , it will be people seeing that this can happen to anyone's friend or family member , continue giving a voice to an exhuberant man who was taken just as his life was beginning. At least his killer got the time .
About 6 months after this , my friend Rahim (I don't have even a grainy photo but I drew a lot of "Flying Furrball" cartoons of him over the years I knew him) was tortured and killed by his closet-case so-called boyfriend and the mother of the boyfriend . He was injected over a period of 3 days with opiates and G-d knows what else and had actually escaped once before they threw him from the balcony of his 21st-store apartment. Rahim was 18 but had lived on his own for at least a couple of years and was doing quite well , until he met the family from hell . Rahim's family had him quickly buried under the guise of religion but in reality just wanted to bury the "shame" and nobody was ever convicted .
Both of these awesome dudes left the earth before I could introduce you to them . These were people who were killed by people so filled with self-hatred that they unleashed it on people who had done nothing wrong except be themselves .
My American friends , if there is ANYTHING that can be done to incarcerate unrepentant bashers and murderers for longer , you should be all for it . And you should sign the HRC petition to the U.S. Senate . http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/711774951