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Gay GOP group barred from sponsoring CPAC

GOProud denied booth space, inclusion in promotional materials



GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A gay Republican group that has riled critics on both the right and the left has been barred from full participation at an upcoming prominent national conservative convention.

Last week, the board for the American Conservative Union voted to deny GOProud the opportunity to co-sponsor the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, which is set to take place February in D.C. The gay group was a co-sponsor for the event in both 2010 and 2011.

The decision means GOProud won’t be able to pay to have a booth at the exhibition hall, nor will the organization have its name appear on promotional materials for CPAC 2012.

Kristy Campbell, spokesperson for the American Conservative Union, said ACU Chair Al Cardenas took the issue of GOProud’s participation — as well as other groups — to the board “given controversies surrounding a few CPAC 2011 co-sponsors” and “concerns raised by a number of our board members.”

The board, Campbell said, voted to bar GOProud from CPAC 2012 co-sponsorship. She declined to comment on the final vote tally for the decision, nor would she comment on the board’s reasoning for excluding the gay group from full participation at the event.

“As always, individual members of these organizations are welcome and encouraged to attend CPAC,” Campbell added. “We look forward to hosting an extraordinarily successful CPAC 2012 in our nation’s capital next February.”

GOProud wasn’t the only group that was excluded from full participation at CPAC. The board also voted to bar the John Birch Society, a political advocacy group that supports limited government and opposes economic interventionism and is known for holding extreme right-wing views. The Southern Poverty Law Center identifies the society as a “‘Patriot Group.”

Additionally, Campbell said the board also considered barring David Horowitz, a conservative author who writes about liberal political bias and indoctrination at universities. However, he was ultimately not barred from participating.

GOProud’s board members said in a joint statement they were “deeply disappointed” with the ACU’s decision to bar the organization from co-sponsorship at CPAC 2012 and said ACU has a “right to do so, but a decision like this will have consequences.”

“For the last two years, GOProud has sought to support CPAC and keep the conservative movement united,” the board members said. “Unfortunately, elements inside and outside of ACU have pushed their own narrow, divisive and sometimes personal agenda. They have done so at the expense of the conservative movement.”

The board members added that the ACU’s decision is “truly sad” because it comes at a time “when we should be united and focused on defeating Barack Obama” in the 2012 race for the White House.

“GOProud has been and will continue to be an outspoken proponent of conservative values and conservative policy,” the board said. “This organization will continue to work to bring conservatives of all stripes together to save this country and defeat the left. Obviously, that work will no longer be done at CPAC, but it will be done.”

Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of GOProud, declined to comment further on the decision to bar his organization from co-sponsorsing CPAC 2012 beyond the statement issued by the board of directors.

GOProud’s participation at CPAC had incurred the wrath of social conservative groups that pledged to boycott sponsorship of the event over the gay conservative group’s involvement. These groups include Family Research Council, Concerned Women For America, Liberty Counsel and Liberty University. In 2011, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a social conservative and Tea Party favorite, also declined to participate at CPAC.

Also last year, GOProud board chair Chris Barron took heat from conservatives after he described Cleta Mitchell, chair of the ACU Foundation, as “a nasty bigot” in an interview. Barron apologized, but ACU chair Cardenas told FrumForum that “it’s going to be difficult to continue the relationship” with GOProud and expressed disappointment in the group’s reaction to the furor over its participation at the event.

“I have been disappointed with their website and their quotes in the media, taunting organizations that are respected in our movement and part of our movement, and that’s not acceptable,” Cardenas was quoted as saying. “And that puts them in a difficult light in terms of how I view things.”

GOProud has also been criticized by many LGBT rights activists for, among other things, reaching out to Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann for potential support in 2012 race for the White House.

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said his reaction to the ACU board’s vote to bar GOProud from CPAC 2012 depends on the reasoning for the decision.

“If the ACU board excluded any group based on sexual orientation, that is not OK,” Cooper said. “If the ACU decision, however, was due to unprofessional behavior by a sponsor, then it is well within reason for the ACU to decline sponsorship.”

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  1. Marc

    August 2, 2011 at 10:14 am

    You can’t build understanding from the outside. This group needs to understand that no matter how conservative they are – they are still seen as the pedophiles out to corrupt normal people. They are not welcome and never will be except for their votes.

    • Emma

      August 2, 2011 at 11:30 am

      And you are an ignorant homophobic bigot whose idiotic statement is in direct contradiction to the findings of every major scientific organization in the world. Thankfully, as always, you bigots are losing quite fast.

  2. Wayne Besen

    August 2, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    GOProud has always been as ridiculous as a clown raffle — and their current statement is just as absurd. In vain, they search to “bring conservatives of all stripes together” — which is useless when you are dealing with predatory leopards unwilling to change their anti-gay spots.

  3. Norm

    August 2, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    marc-no one sees gay groups as pedophiles-its fact that most pedophiles are hetereosexual white males-youre a bigot. Hopefully GOProud will stop self hating by associating with these monsters-the republican party is dying-gay equality is now the wish of teh majority-and it will grow every year, the republican party will die off unless they embrace equality for all-love seeing the repubs canniobalizing themselves!!

    • Katra

      August 3, 2011 at 3:37 pm

      Norm, Actually, many in the GOP do see everyone in the LGBT community as a pedophile out to corrupt “their” young. Just look at the propaganda put out by GOP and other right wing organizations when it comes to their campaigns against non-discriminator use of a rest room facility. Every add depicts some “guy” in a dress trying to molest “their” daughters. This has happened repeatedly over the years and is still prevelent in the socila (un) consciousness of many concervative groups. They not only espouse that idea, they embrace it to give them an “Evil” to fight against so they don’t have to look themselves in the face and admit that it is the members of their own churches who commit the bulk of crimes against children.

    • james

      August 3, 2011 at 4:09 pm

      I suspect you’ve misread Marc’s comment. I think he’s saying that with there are people within CPAC and on the ACU board who see gays as pedophiles and will regardless of the overwhelming and obvious evidence to the contrary. Regrettably, I suspect that’s completely correct. And while it may be technically true that no one, “see gay groups as pedophiles” there are some people who see gay groups as, well, groups of pedophiles. That’s why we’re out. That’s how we combat this nonsense.

  4. GC

    August 2, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    I’m not yet ready to open fire. Calling the leader of the organizing body of an event you want to continue to participate in a “nasty bigot” isn’t normally the way to make friends and build relationships. And if that little contretemps was what led to GOPROUD’s exclusion, well, that’s kind of hard to argue – how many of you would play nice with someone busily calling you a hateful bigot.

    There are more and more LGBT folk of libertarian and conservative (primarily fiscally conservative, in my anecdotal experience) out there, participating and looking for a political home. And more and more libertarian and conservative folks in the majority community range from “don’t give a damn” to actively favoring

    And that’s a good thing unless we want to be marginalized as a captive political population that the DNC throws a sop to every decade or so to keep us on tenterhooks re actually being treated as an equal partner if we just support them vigorously enough. A population they don’t have to actually do anything for beyond throwing the occasional sop. Having out, proud, and ideally *effective within their party* LGBT folks on both sides of the aisle benefits us far more as a community than having all but the odd flyer on one side of the aisle.

    The more our community is seen as “in play”, available to be persuaded by either party, the greater the influence our community has on the political process.

    In the meantime, my question remains “Why?” before I’m willing to rush to judgement…

  5. sam

    August 2, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Wow, self-hating gay men are surprised that “conservative bigots” don’t want them sponsoring their convention. Maybe you should take a good look in the mirror boys. They may invite you to the table, but they’ll spit in your food.

  6. Nick

    August 3, 2011 at 11:44 am

    lie down with dogs…

  7. David Ehrenstein

    August 3, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    I’m sure once GOProud goes “Ex-Gay” CPAC will welcome it with open arms.

  8. Steve

    August 3, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    It is pathetic that go proud wants to be involved. Don’t they get it? They hate you. It’s that simple.

  9. Bruce Majors

    August 4, 2011 at 11:03 am

    While this article was not un-informative I feel I got as much information by reading Roger Simon a week ago on PajamasMedia, when he (and Andrew Breitbart and other pro-gay rights conservatives) announced he would be boycotting CPAC if GOProud is banned (that seems to be missing from your article).

    You seemed to have failed to report that this action came AFTER CPAC and its sponsoring organization ACU had a change in leadership, as the people who originally invited GOProud to be a sponsor retired last year and new people now run the group.

    You also quote the Southern Poverty Law Center, which, whatever its past virtues (if any) now seems to be a self-parody of mendacious leftover parochialism. It maintains a blacklist of groups it labels “Patriots.” What does that say about them? It seems to be on the same moral and intellectual level as Janet Napolitano’s (please don’t come out and saddle the gay community with your sins Janet!) having DHS spy on people with Ron Paul bumperstickers.

    As usual most of the people posting attacks on GOProud here, from Wayne Besen to the complete unknowns, are often silly and tendentious, sometimes whoring after Obama and the Demwits who continue to temporize on delivering any goods (to gays or anyone else) while milking you as cash cows for donations. Far from being hated, GOProud has been sponsored by the most robust and influential tea party/limited government activists (especially those under 40 or 50), from Grover Norquist’s American for Tax Reform to Andrew Breitbart to Roger Simon at PJTV. And as one of the posters above noted GOProud was “bad mannered” in that they taunted all the “pro-family” anti-gay forces at CPAC last year who were so unmanly as to talk about GOProud behind their backs but not debate them to their faces. (Raising the question, since people “on the right” criticize each other all the time, if only gays are not allowed to be rude and confrontational in the CPAC leadership’s eyes.)

    But GOProud remains very popular. At their July Monaco Hotel event for Margaret Hoover’s new book “American Individualism” in DC, the 2/3 gay 1/3 straight audience was far bigger than the turnout at local Stonewall, HRC Federal Club, Gertrude Stein, GLAA, or CAGLCC events. At CPAC 2010 when a “pro-family” theologically inspired speaker attacked them, the younger set, mainly hundreds of libertarianish/Ron Paul college age CPAC registrants, almost shouted him off the stage. [At CPAC 2011 they shouted “war criminal” at Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.] What’s really going on here is the Republican and conservative think tank incumbotacrocy trying to protect itself from waves of change, from the tea parties, to Ron Paul, to gay Republicans. In that the GOP incumbatocracy are not unlike Obama and the Democrats.


  10. Rick Rosendall

    August 4, 2011 at 11:19 am

    They are trying to square a circle, and it can’t be done. Chris Barron was right last February: Cleta Mitchell IS a nasty bigot; I watched her in action when she testified against marriage equality before the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics. But she’s chair of the ACU Foundation; how did Barron expect them to react? But if you step back from that and consider all the lies and extreme proposals from the GOP in the past year, the amazing thing is that GOProud enthusiastically supports all of it excepting only the anti-gay part (well, ignoring their drooling over Ann Coulter and Donald Trump). They are little more than provocateurs, and love to imagine that they are constantly enraging the “gay left,” by which they mean all gay people who are not ultra-right-wing like them; but I know very few activists who take them seriously. My own column in Metro Weekly this week discusses them, but I doubt you’ll take it as a cry of alarm:

  11. Rick Rosendall

    August 4, 2011 at 11:27 am

    If you don’t know who Bruce Majors is, he is a far-right-wing Tea Party organizer. Check out TPM’s Troll Alert on him:

    • Bruce Majors

      August 4, 2011 at 2:57 pm

      And if you don’t know who Rick Rosendall is, you can see him doing yeomen work for the gay community in a youtube I have saved on my blog, where he tells a reporter covering an event he is at to “drop dead” and then hisses at her over and over: Rick has been defending the increasingly unpopular state schools (40% of DC kids now in charters with 5% leaving every year) because he is part of the slave trade (or one of its flaks) in black kids sold to the educrat cartel in exchange for Democratic Party donations. I don’t know that Rick’s shilling for human trafficking can be defended just because he hopes to get some rainbow crumbs from his political masters. (Supporting race slavery sounds pretty right wing to me Rick. Heil!)

      Rick and “Talking Points Memo” are performing the same function; smears in place of argument. Notice that Rick didn’t answer any of my detailed comments about the holes in the Blade article or the parochialism of the postings in reply to it.

      If you want to know about me you can also read an article by a former Talking Points Memo journalist written when working at The Daily Beast:

  12. Bruce Majors

    August 4, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    And if you don’t know who Rick Rosendall is, you can see him doing yeomen PR work for the gay community in a youtube I have saved on my blog, where he tells a reporter covering an event he is at to “drop dead” and then hisses at her over and over: Rick has been defending the increasingly unpopular state schools (40% of DC kids now in charters with 5% leaving every year) because he is part of the slave trade (or one of its flaks) in black kids sold to the educrat cartel in exchange for Democratic Party donations. I don’t know that Rick’s shilling for human trafficking can be defended just because he hopes to get some rainbow crumbs from his political masters. (Supporting race slavery sounds pretty right wing to me Rick. Heil!)

    Rick and “Talking Points Memo” are performing the same function; smears in place of argument. Notice that Rick didn’t answer any of my detailed comments about the holes in the Blade article or the parochialism of the postings in reply to it.

    If you want to know about me you can also read an article by a former Talking Points Memo journalist written when working at The Daily Beast:

  13. Bruce Majors

    August 4, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    By the way, calling tea partiers right wing betrays limited, conventional, incumbentist/two party duopoly thinking.

    Polls show that the tea partiers are about 49% socially liberal/libertarian:

    and currently bloggers on the left predict the tea party will lead to defense cuts:

  14. Bruce Majors

    August 4, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    By the way, calling tea partiers right wing betrays limited, conventional, incumbentist/two party duopoly thinking.

    Polls show that the tea partiers are about 49% socially liberal/libertarian:

    and currently bloggers on the left predict the tea party will lead to defense cuts:

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Does a potential overturn of Roe imperil LGBTQ rights?

Some fear that Obergefell marriage decision could fall



Protests outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1. (Photo by Cathy Renna)

The oral arguments before the justices of the United States Supreme Court had barely ended in the case brought by the state of Mississippi defending its law banning abortion after 15 weeks, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, when alarms were set off in legal circles as some argued that Obergefell v. Hodges — the same-sex marriage decision — would be in danger should the high court rule to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Florida State University law professor Mary Ziegler, appearing on NPR’s ‘Heard on All Things Considered,’ told host Mary Louise Kelly that there was a basis for concern over whether the court would actually overrule its precedents in other cases based on the questions and statements raised during the hearing by the conservative members of the court.

Asked by Kelly if she saw a legal door opening Ziegler affirmed that she did. Kelly then asked her, “Them taking up cases to do with that. What about same-sex marriage?”

Ziegler answered, “Yeah, same-sex marriage is definitely a candidate. Justices Alito and Thomas have in passing mentioned in dicta that they think it might be worth revisiting Obergefell v. Hodges – the same-sex marriage decision.

“And I think it’s fair to say that in the sort of panoply of culture war issues, that rights for same-sex couples and sexual orientation are still among the most contested, even though certainly same-sex marriage is more subtle than it was and than abortion was.

“I think that certainly the sort of balance between LGBTIQ rights and religious liberty writ large is a very much alive issue, and I think some states may try to test the boundaries with Obergefell, particularly knowing that they have a few justices potentially willing to go there with them.”

As almost if to underscore the point raised by Ziegler during the hearing, Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor pointed out that the high court has taken and “discerned” certain rights in cases from the Constitution.

Along with abortion, the court has “recognized them in terms of the religion parents will teach their children. We’ve recognized it in their ability to educate at home if they choose,” Sotomayor said. “We have recognized that sense of privacy in people’s choices about whether to use contraception or not. We’ve recognized it in their right to choose who they’re going to marry.”

In following up the cases cited by Justice Sotomayor, Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart, who was defending the state’s abortion law, whether a decision in his favor would affect the legal precedents in those cases cited by Justice Sotomayor.

In his answer to Justice Barrett, the state’s Solicitor General said cases involving contraception, same-sex marriage and sodomy wouldn’t be called into question because they involve “clear rules that have engendered strong reliance interests and that have not produced negative consequences or all the many other negative stare decisis considerations we pointed out.”

However, Lambda Legal Chief Strategy Officer and Legal Director, Sharon McGowan had a different take and interpreted remarks by Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to mean that the decisions in Lawrence v. Texas, which decriminalized private sexual intimacy between same-sex couples, and Obergefell v. Hodges, which struck down remaining bans on the freedom of same-sex couples to marry, would actually justify overturning Roe v. Wade.

In a publicly released media statement McGowan noted: “During today’s argument, Justice Kavanaugh suggested that two key Supreme Court decisions protecting LGBTQ civil rights—Lawrence v. Texas and Obergefell v. Hodges—support overruling Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

‘To that we say, NOT IN OUR NAME. LGBTQ people need abortions. Just as important, those landmark LGBTQ decisions EXPANDED individual liberty, not the opposite. They reflected the growing societal understanding of our common humanity and equality under law.

“Just as the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education rejected the lie of ‘separate but equal,’ the Supreme Court’s decisions in Lawrence and Obergefell appropriately overruled precedent where it was clear that, as was true with regard to race, our ancestors failed properly to acknowledge that gender and sexual orientation must not be barriers to our ability to live, love, and thrive free of governmental oppression. … 

“These landmark LGBTQ cases, which Lambda Legal litigated and won, and on which we rely today to protect our community’s civil rights, were built directly on the foundation of Casey and Roe. Our interests in equal dignity, autonomy, and liberty are shared, intertwined, and fundamental.” 

On Sunday, the Blade spoke with Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national LGBTQ+ legal organization that represented three same-sex couples from Tennessee, whose case was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court along with Obergefell and two other cases.

Minter is urging caution in how people interpret the court arguments and remarks made by the justices.

“We should be cautious about taking the bait from anti-LGBTQ groups who falsely argue that if the Supreme Court reverses or undermines Roe v. Wade, they are likely to reverse or undermine Obergefell or Lawrence. In fact, that is highly unlikely, as the argument in Dobbs itself showed,” he said.

“The only reason Justice Kavanaugh mentioned Obergefell and Lawrence, along with Brown v. Board of Education, was to cite them as examples of cases in which the Supreme Court clearly did the right thing. All of those decisions rely at least as strongly on equal protection as on fundamental rights, and even this extremely conservative Supreme Court has not questioned the foundational role of equal protection in our nation’s constitutional law,” Minter stressed.

During an interview with Bloomberg magazine, David Cortman, of the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based anti-LGBTQ legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, which has been listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an extremist hate group, said “two things in particular distinguish abortion from those other privacy rights: the right to life and the states’ interest in protecting a child.”

Cortman, whose group urged the justices to allow states to ban same-sex marriages, said those other rights may be just as wrong as the right to an abortion. “But the fundamental interest in life that’s at issue in abortion means those other rights are probably not in any real danger of being overturned.”

But Cortman is of the opinion that there is little impetus among the court’s conservatives to take up challenges to those cases.

However, the fact that the six to three makeup of the high court with a conservative majority has progressives clamoring for the public to pay closer attention and be more proactively engaged.

Kierra Johnson, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, in an emailed statement to the Blade underscored those concerns:

“Reports and analysis coming out of Wednesday’s Supreme Court hearing on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization are extremely disturbing and represent a threat to our individual constitutional rights to privacy and autonomy. There is no ‘middle ground’ on what the Constitution guarantees and what was decided decades ago with the Roe v Wade decision. 

“This is about liberty, equality, and the rule of law, not the political or partisan views of those sitting on the bench. The unprecedented decision to remove a constitutional right recognized by the Supreme Court 50 years ago would set back civil rights by decades. ….

“Abortion access is essential, and a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution. Bans on abortion are deeply racist and profoundly sexist – the harshest impacts fall on Black and Brown women and pregnant people and on our families and communities.

“If you think this decision will not affect you, think again: a wrong decision by the Supreme Court means you, too, will lose your bodily autonomy, your ability to own your own personal and community power. This is not just about abortion; it is about controlling bodies based on someone else determining your worthiness. This is a racial justice issue. This is a women’s issue. It is an LGBTQ issue. It is a civil rights issue. These are our fundamental rights that are at stake.”

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Minnesota middle school principal ousted for displaying Pride flag

Critics ramped up attacks on the career educator- some compared her to the Devil after publicly associating with LGBTQ+ people and students



Screenshot via Marshall Public Schools, YouTube Channel

MARSHALL, Mn. — A former middle school principal in Minnesota who lost her job after displaying a Pride flag alleges in a federal lawsuit that the school system retaliated against her for supporting LGBTQ+ students.

Mary Kay Thomas filed the complaint against Marshall Public Schools in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota Tuesday after anti-LGBTQ+ middle school staff, parents, students and local clergy began efforts to remove the Pride flag that she put up in her middle school’s cafeteria in 2020 as a part of an inclusiveness effort.

According to the lawsuit, Thomas has been a teacher and principal for more than three decades with a long track record of success. She held the principal position at Marshall Middle School for 15 years, receiving contract renewals, pay raises and praise for her performance.

“But when Thomas decided to display an LGBTQ Pride Flag in the school cafeteria in early 2020, everything changed,” reads the complaint. 

Thomas refused to take down the Pride flag as critics ramped up attacks on the career educator. The lawsuit alleges that some even compared her to the Devil after publicly associating with LGBTQ+ people and students. 

“Sadly, the Marshall School District has sided with these critics,” her lawyers wrote. 

What followed was an “escalating series of adverse actions” taken by the Marshall School District, said the lawsuit. She claims that the school targeted her by threatening her employment, conducting a “bad-faith” investigation, putting her on indefinite involuntary leave, suspending her without pay and putting a notice of deficiency in her personnel file. 

The complaint says that the deficiencies were “false, distorted, and/or related to Thomas’s association with members of the LGBTQ community.”

Thomas also claims that the District attempted to get her to quit by removing her as principal and assigning her to a “demeaning ‘special projects’ position.”

At one point, Marshall Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams, who is named as a defendant in the case, told Thomas he could “make this all go away” if she stepped down, according to the complaint. 

The school removed the Pride flag in August 2021 after settling a lawsuit brought by residents who opposed it. 

The Blade reached out to Williams for comment but did not receive a response. However, according to the Marshall Independent, Williams did release a statement on the matter. 

“Marshall Public Schools is committed to the education of every child and has strong policies and practices in place against discrimination, against both students and staff members. The school district is committed to creating a respectful, inclusive, and safe learning and working environment for students, staff and our families,” Williams said. “While the school cannot comment about the specific allegations made in the complaint, the school district strongly denies any allegation of discriminatory conduct. The school will vigorously defend itself against these allegations.”

In addition, Thomas alleges that she resisted unwanted sexual advancements from school board member Bill Swope. She claims she told Williams about the sexual harassment.

As of Thursday, the school has not filed a response, and no hearing has been scheduled yet. 

Thomas is seeking a jury trial, damages and reinstatement as principal of Marshall Middle School.

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Matthew Shepard honored at National Cathedral

Daylong services held to mark his 45th birthday



Matthew Shepard, gay news, Washington Blade
Matthew Shepard Thanksgiving and Celebration at the National Cathedral in 2018. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The parents of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in a 1998 hate crime that drew international attention to anti-LGBTQ violence, were among those attending a day of religious services commemorating Shepard’s 45th birthday on Wednesday at the Washington National Cathedral.

The services, which the Cathedral organized in partnership with the Matthew Shepard Foundation, included tributes to Shepard at the Cathedral’s St. Joseph’s Chapel, where his remains were interred in a ceremony in 2018.  

“Matthew Shepard’s death is an enduring tragedy affecting all people and should serve as an ongoing call to the nation to reject anti-LGBTQ bigotry and instead embrace each of our neighbors for who they are,” the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral, said at the time of Shepard’s interment.

“In the years since Matthew’s death, the Shepard family has shown extraordinary courage and grace in keeping his spirit and memory alive, and the Cathedral is honored and humbled to serve as his final resting place,” Hollerith said.

The first of the Cathedral’s Dec. 1 services for Shepard began at 7 a.m. with prayers, scripture readings, and music led by the Cathedral’s Rev. Canon Rosemarie Logan Duncan. The service was live streamed on YouTube.

An online, all-day service was also held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. that Cathedral officials said was intended to “connect people around the world to honor Shepard and the LGBTQ community and pray for a more just world.”

The Shepard services concluded with a 5:30 p.m. in-person remembrance of Shepard in the Cathedral’s Nave, its main worship space. Among those attending were Shepard’s parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard, who have said they created the Matthew Shepard Foundation to continue their son’s support for equality for all.

A statement released by the Cathedral says a bronze plaque honoring Matthew Shepard was installed in St. Joseph’s Chapel to mark his final resting place at the time Shepard was interred there in 2018. 
Following the Cathedral’s Dec. 1 services for Shepard, the Adams Morgan gay bar Pitchers hosted a reception for Dennis and Judy Shepard, according to Pitchers’ owner David Perruzza.

One of the two men charged with Shepard’s murder, Russell Henderson, pleaded guilty to the charge after prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty for him. The second of the two men charged, Aaron McKinney, was convicted of the murder following a lengthy jury trial.

Prosecutors said McKinney repeatedly and fatally struck Shepard in the head with the barrel of a handgun after he and Henderson tied Shepard to a wooden fence in a remote field outside Laramie, Wy., on Oct. 6, 1998. Police and prosecutors presented evidence at McKinney’s trial that McKinney and Henderson met Shepard at a bar in Laramie on that day and lured him into their car, where they drove him to the field where authorities said McKinney fatally assaulted him.

Shepard died six days later at a hospital in Ft. Collins, Colo., where he was taken after being found unconscious while still tied to the fence.

In a dramatic courtroom scene following the jury’s guilty verdict for McKinney, Dennis Shepard urged the judge to spare McKinney’s life by not handing down a death sentence. He said that out of compassion and in honor of his son’s life, McKinney should be allowed to live. The judge sentenced McKinney to two consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole, the same sentence given to Henderson.

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