The following link is a powerful reminder of why gay rights is about civil rights. And I’m not talking about marriage, either. Life and death. Here is just a sample:

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

On this day, the sixth anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s brutal murder, I wanted to take the time to educate you of those others we have lost. Brandon Teena, Danny Overstreet, JR Warren, PFC Barry Winchell, Billy Jack Gaither, Billy Clayton, Tyra Hunter, Scotty Joe Weaver, and Roderick George are all those victims of hate crimes here in the United States, the Land of Freedom…or the freedom we continuously fight for.

• Matthew Shepard – October 1998…Most of us are aware of Matthew’s story. A young man eager to succeed in life just like the rest of us. Still young with a lot of potential; ended up being at the wrong place in a small town. Narrow minded individual seduced him as well as deceived him. After beating this individual they left him to die, offered no assistance in anyway. His murders have been tried and prosecuted and currently reside in jail, they were also young and had a life ahead of them…they no longer have that.

• Brandon Teena – December 1993…Brandon Teena, original birth name Teena Brandon. Brandon had moved from his original hometown to another nearby town to pursue life as a male. He was arrested by police who, in a news report, announced he was really a she and two weeks later at a Christmas party was raped and assaulted by two men. Despite being threatened by these men, Brandon turned them in to local authorities; who ultimately procrastinated the arrest. After Brandon’s rapist’s learned of the charges pending against them they plotted the slaying of Brandon and spent a week looking for him before murdering him and two other victims.

• Danny Overstreet – September 2000…Ronald Edward Gay was looking to “Waste some fags” on September 22nd, 2000. He entered Back Street Café and fired off either shots in a quick succession into the crowd. Ronald ended up wounding six patrons and killing Danny Overstreet.

• JR Warren – July 2000…JR was only 26 years old when his body was found beaten to death and dumped alongside a road. It at first appeared to be a hit and run accident by police and later discovered that two 17 year olds had killed this man after alleged “sex boasts” he was making against them. Both suspects no longer enjoy the freedom that we get to everyday.

• PFC Barry Winchell – July 1999…some of us may have seen the movie about 21 PFC Barry Winchell. Barry was in love with a transsexual and was consistently teased and harassed by others back at his barracks. Winchell was struggling with being gay still and was still very confused about himself. After a fellow Army member was taunted and intoxicated, he beat Barry to the point of death.

Pointed to this from the DKos diary Equality is not a wedge issue.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding