Log Cabin Republicans Supports Death Penalty for Shepard Killers

A Letter to Editors of National and Local Gay Publications Nationwide

January 12, 1999 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

Dear Editors:

We write to voice our strong support for the decision by prosecutors in Wyoming to seek the strongest punishment possible – the death penalty – for the vicious murderers of Matthew Shepard.

Log Cabin Republicans issued a statement immediately after the facts of Matthew Shepard's killing were known, calling for the state of Wyoming to seek the death penalty against the killers. In addition to the hateful components of the killers' motives, it was the most brutal crime committed in the state of Wyoming in recent memory. Seeking anything less than the strongest possible punishment allowed under state law would send a message to the world that Matthew Shepard's life was somehow less valuable than the law demands, and would send a further chill through the gay and lesbian community across the nation. Regardless of the sexual orientation of the victim, such a heinous crime demands the highest punishment.

Furthermore, judges letting gay bashers and killers off or giving them lenient sentences because the victims were gay is a serious problem in our judicial system. In 1991, Judge Terry McDonald (D) gave probation to a U.S. Marine in San Antonio convicted of beating a gay man to death. Referring to the victim, McDonald said, "the son-of-a-bitch got what was coming to him." To offer a reduced punishment to the perpetrators of the most heinous murder in recent Wyoming history not only profanes the memory of Matthew Shepard, it sets a frightening precedent which devalues the life of every gay person in America.

We were disheartened to read of growing sentiment among gay activists calling for prosecutors to seek a reduced punishment for Matthew Shepard's killers. They are forgetting the crucial importance of insuring that gay Americans receive full justice under the laws of this country, without exception. It is important to note that these same people who attacked Congress late last year for failing to pass a federal hate crimes law in the days after Matthew Shepard's death are now advocating incomplete justice under existing laws. A federal hate crimes law, while a helpful and important tool, would not have saved Matthew Shepard's life. But punishing his killers to the fullest extent of the law will send an unmistakable message to every gay basher in America that they had better think twice before trying it, or they will face the hammer of justice. Nothing could speak louder to the purveyors of hate.

These depraved murderers, if convicted, must receive the maximum punishment, and in Wyoming that is the death penalty. Anything less would be a disgrace to justice and a dangerous legal and moral precedent.


Michael S. Aronowitz, New York, NY
Patrick Ball, Baytown, TX
Kevin Bliss, Washington, D.C.
William H. Brownson, Columbus, OH
Dr. Victor Buzzotta, St. Louis, MO
Dale Carpenter, Houston, TX
David Clement, New York, NY
Monty Cornell, Boston, MA
Dennis DeCoste, Santa Cruz, CA
Russell Doe, Sun Valley, CA
Cliff Eserman, Middleton, WI
Robert J. Kabel, Washington, D.C.
Jerry Keene, Portland, OR
The Hon. Steve May, Phoenix, AZ
Mark Mead, Atlanta, GA
Frank Ricchiazzi, Laguna Beach, CA
Robert Stears, New York, NY
Richard L. Tafel, Washington, D.C.

**All signatories are members of the Board of Directors of Log Cabin Republicans