Matthew Shepard's murder shocked the nation. The 21-year-old gay college student was killed on Oct. 7, 1998, by two men near Laramie, Wyo. After torturing and robbing Shepard, the men tied him to a fence post and left him for dead.
Shepard was discovered 18 hours later by a passing biker in a coma and died shortly thereafter.
Ten years later, Bloomington High School North's (BHSN) Advanced Theatre Production class presented The Laramie Project, a play by Moises Kaufman, that depicts the aftermath of the nation's best-known hate crime.
Shepard's killers invoked the "gay panic defense" during the trial. They said they were driven temporarily insane by Shepard's alleged sexual advances. One eventually pleaded guilty and was given two consecutive life sentences. The other also received two consecutive life sentences after brokering a deal with Shepard's parents.
It seems that folks sure do get worked up over the marriage issue and fret about relationships that exist beyond their own experiences and definitions. Most recently, when the topic of marriage arises in conversation, thoughts no doubt turn to the issues of the LGBTQI community and their efforts to achieve marriage rights.
Especially in the past five or so years, much public and private dialogue has occurred surrounding marriage, but there has been little real change for couples who wish to legalize their unions.
One state has extended marriage rights to LGBT couples, a few others offer domestic partnerships, a couple recognize civil unions, and the rest either have not taken action, have anti-marriage legislation (read that so called 'marriage protection') in process or stand by their existing constitutions that already declare man-and-woman unions as the only legitimate option.
This may be a good year to be a Democrat, but is it a good year to be a woman? Is it ever a good year to be a woman? Now we love being women and have never aspired to be anyone other than ourselves. But it seems that while women have made some progress in achieving equal opportunity in this country, there is still a pervasive sense of inequity in all societal arenas, from business to education.
Our observance of the current political campaign is an example of what we see as an overall attitude toward women that manifests the ugliness of discrimination and demonstrates that women are still not seen as individuals capable of being completely in charge of anything and certainly not as leaders of our government and country.
We must say here that women could certainly do no worse than the men and maybe even better. Perhaps that is a real fear; that women, given the opportunity can do better. Just a musing.
In the grand scheme of things, 40 years is not much more than a blip on the historic radar. However, in terms of an individual life span, 40 years is quite a long time. The other day we were reflecting upon some of our personal experiences over the years and observed what has changed and what has seemed to remain the same.
Four decades ago we were a strikingly different pair. One of us was a university student, an ardent feminist, an antiwar protestor and civil rights activist. The other was a university student who left academics to become a marine in what was then a manifestation of idealistic patriotism with a desire to contribute to society.
While one was advocating on behalf of women, blacks and everyone being discriminated against, as well as marching and organizing against the Viet Nam war (and no, we did not jeer the non-volunteer returning soldiers), the other was carrying 80 pound packs on forced 20-mile marches at 4 a.m. in preparation for defense of country and nation, to death if necessary.
At every turn we hear how things are so much better for the LGBT community. People say that they feel safer, and we hear that many students seem to think that all is well. We also know that there are civil rights and legal protections laws being enacted in various cities and states across the country, and polls seem to support an overall improvement in acceptance of lesbian and gay folks and their families.
While we certainly don't want to discourage anyone, we always keep in mind that students and others of us are currently safe within the walls of an accepting university and academic community, and other employment venues are not so accommodating. And there are still more states without protections and partnership sanctions than there are with them.
Hence, being the skeptics that we are, we wonder if all is as good as it seems on the surface.
The two Crothersville youths who claim they savagely beat a 32-year-old man to death last April over an alleged homosexual advance will be free in less than 15 years.
On Jan. 15, Jackson County Circuit Judge Bill Vance accepted a plea agreement from 18-year-old Coleman King that called for a 30-year sentence. In Indiana, that means King would serve 15 years, with credit for the time he has already served since his arrest last April.
Twenty-year-old Garrett Gray accepted the same deal on Jan. 8. Vance has scheduled his sentencing for Jan. 30.
One of us is a realist and the other an optimist, although we both tend to flip-flop a bit between both philosophies when it comes to decision making and future planning. Suffice it to say that neither of us is a pessimist, and we try to keep the “stiff upper lip” that is necessary to maintain a positive attitude and prevents us from screaming with frustration.
However, upon yearend reflection we must confess to finding ourselves a bit dismayed about the civil rights “victories” for the LGBT community during 2007. Some think it was an eventful year and full of promise for the community, and we would like to celebrate right along with those folks. But when the facts are reviewed, we come up with a slightly more negative result.
We are well aware that some think it is a serious no-no to be negative, but we think it’s more realistic to evaluate what we’ve achieved and where we need to go with a critical eye and not just accept a passing handout that doesn’t really improve image or circumstance just because it feels good at the moment.
Home for the holidays! That simple sentence conjures up many wonderful and fun-filled memories for some of us. But for others the thought instills anxiety, tension and, in some instances, honest-to-goodness fear.
Regardless of how the holidays are celebrated, or perhaps not celebrated, this season is recognized in our culture as a time of refreshment and renewal. A time when friends and relatives come together in some semblance of joyous reunion and pretend to actually like, love and accept one another.
Harsh as it sounds, these gatherings are frequently rife with emotions, based upon a lack of real understanding. It's almost as if there is a security in commonality, and the group unity is dependent upon similarity.
"Hasta la vista, baby!" The Bush administration has announced it will return in March with a revised plan to pair Department of Homeland Security (DHS) guidance letters with Social Security Administration (SSA) no-match letters.
This past August, the administration issued a new DHS rule apparently intended to flush out undocumented immigrants. The rule directed SSA to add a letter from DHS to the envelopes containing the no-match letters SSA sends employers informing them about alleged discrepancies between their employee records and SSA's database.
The DHS letter would have warned employers to expect a stiff fine if they did not fire within 90 days any worker who couldn't resolve the data discrepancy. Up to now, no-match letters have been purely informational, with no penalty attached for failure to resolve discrepancies.
Ever wake up in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning with waves of panic washing over you or a tight knot in the middle of your stomach?
We feel certain that most of our readers have suffered from such stress-related symptoms from trying to meet deadlines or maintain expectations in school, on the job or even in relationships.
Our heads spin while we try to keep the demands of work and careers in balance with some semblance of a social and family life.