Statement by Richard Tafel, Executive Director of Log Cabin Republicans, at Capitol Vigil for Matthew Shepard

US Capitol, October 14, 1998 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

I believe that the lesson of Matthew Shepard's murder is that words have consequences.

When politicians compare being gay to an illness, that lie demeans each gay person. Those words have consequences.

When people scream "God hates fags!" at funerals, protests and pulpits, every spiritual leader and political leader in the country must denounce them. Their words have consequences.

When parents and teachers look the other way when kids are called "fag," they shouldn't be surprised when it escalates to suicide and physical violence. Looking the other way when a gay person is being attacked has consequences.

When groups like the Family Research Council and the Christian Coalition, run an anti-gay ad campaign waging war on gays, saying that we recruit children, that we are diseased, that we are second-class citizens, they shouldn't be surprised when their foot soldiers don't see anything wrong with killing a young man like Matthew Shepard, because words have consequences.

As a Christian, I have hope that something good can come from this evil. I couldn't miss the symbolism of a boy named "Shepard," who through his brutal crucifixion on that fence might, through his death, save lives. And maybe, just maybe, even to make those who spew hatred against gays to pause, and look deep within their souls, and take responsibility for their words of hate which can have such deadly consequences.