Waymon Hudson

Family of Hate Crime Victim Ryan Skipper Speaks Out

Filed By Waymon Hudson | August 27, 2008 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Barack Obama, hate crimes against LGBT people, John McCain, Matthew Shepard Act, Presidential Race, Ryan Skipper

The family of Ryan Skipper, a 25-year-old gay man from Winter Haven, Florida who was killed last year in a brutal hate crime, RyanSkipper.jpgis speaking out and fighting for change. Skipper was found stabbed to death on March 15, 2007. He had been stabbed twenty times and his body was dumped by the side of the road. His killers drove around in his blood-soaked car, bragging how they had killed a gay man. The murders- William David Brown Jr., 20, and Joseph Bearden, 21- were charged with first-degree murder and will be going on trial separately in October 2008 and Feb 2009. You can find out more about the horrific crime in the amazing documentary "ACCESSORY TO MURDER: Our Culture's Complicity in the Death of Ryan Skipper" (trailer after the jump).

The family of Ryan Skipper has become outspoken advocates for stronger federal hate crimes legislation, as well as traveling the country to speak on the need for acceptance of LGBT people. They have been active in lobbying for the Matthew Shepard Act, which seeks to add sexual orientation and gender identity to existing federal hate crime laws. The law currently includes only race, religion, ethnicity and nationality.

Their work for stronger hate crimes legislation has also brought them into the fight for the next President of the United States. They have become vocal supporters of Barack Obama, in large part because of his stated commitment to passing hate crimes laws.

Watch the video from Ryan's brother and much more after the jump...

In a video recorded for the campaign by Damien Skipper, Ryan's brother, speaks about Ryan's death and the impact it has had on his family:

ryandamien.jpg

I know most of you watching this can understand how difficult it is to lose a loved one. Now just take a moment to consider how difficult it would be to lose a loved one in the manner we lost Ryan. And then consider that Ryan was killed because of who he was. Ryan was killed because he was an openly gay man. That's sickening.

Damien goes on to say:

We as a society have an opportunity to make a change. We have the opportunity to provide equality for the LGBT community.

My family strongly supports Barack Obama in his campaign for the presidency due in large part to his support for the Matthew Shepard Act. Please join us.

Obama's strong support for hate crimes legislation is in sharp contrast to his Republican opponent, John McCain. According to Obama's website:

Barack Obama has made strengthening and expanding the federal hate crimes law a priority.

• As a United States Senator, he co-sponsored the bill that would expand hate crimes protections to include crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill also would provide local law enforcement agencies with federal aid in fighting and prosecuting hate crimes.

• Barack cast the critical 60th vote that prevented the bill from being defeated by a Republican-sponsored filibuster. [2007 Senate Vote #350]

• He has pledged to continue his support for enacting these protections into law if elected President, promising earlier this year to "place the full weight of my administration behind the enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act to outlaw hate crimes... on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity." [New York Blade, 6/10/08]

• Barack has pledged to reinvigorate enforcement of all hate crime laws at the Department of Justice's Criminal Section. [www.barackobama.com]

While Barack Obama has been fighting to expand hate crimes protections, John McCain has been standing in the way. He has consistently stood in the way of the bill becoming law.

• McCain voted against the hate crimes bill in 2000. [2000 Senate Vote #136]

• McCain voted against the hate crimes bill in 2002. [2002 Senate Vote #147]

• McCain voted against the hate crimes bill in 2004. [2004 Senate Vote #114]

• In 2007, McCain was the only member of the Senate to not cast a vote at all on the bill. [2007 Senate Vote #350]

I have had the honor of meeting Ryan's family at various events and memorials. They are passionate people who are working to make sure what happened to their family doesn't happen to others.

They continue to tell their painful story and work with various organizations- like the Gay American Heroes Foundation, Equality Florida, PFLAG of Polk County and the Lakeland Youth Alliance- to make real change for the LGBT community. They also joined with EQFL and the GAHF to travel to Tallahassee and lobby for passage of an anti-bully bill. I am so thankful for their strength and activism.

Watch Damien Skipper's Video here:


iPhone users: Click to watch

Watch a moving PSA the family made with Equality Florida to support the Mathew Sheppard act here:


iPhone users: Click to watch

Watch the trailer for "Accessory to Murder: Our Culture's Complicity in the Death of Ryan Skipper" and go to the website to purchase the video:


iPhone users: Click to watch

(Crossposted from Bilerico-Florida)


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I hope the hate crimes bill is strengthened next year, to include a provision making the defendant of the hate crime charge automatically charged with a first-degree felony, not amendable downward by prosecutors or juries.

When people start going to jail for life without parole, or possibly to lethal injection, for murdering people based on GLBT, or race, sex, or national origin for that matter, then these crimes may slow down.

it is time that, as a nation, we stand and say these crimes are unacceptable, and that the people who commit them haven't been fooled or deceived - they planned and executed them, and they are animals to be put away for the good of society.

Period.


Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 28, 2008 1:58 AM

Like all of us, I hope that the hate crimes bill makes it past the Democratic (sic) roadblocks soon and that they no longer treat us as expendable. But that’s totally up to them because according to Obama’s platform there are no lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transsexual/transgendered people at all in the US, or at least in their party. We’ve been ‘disappeared’.

Obama claims to support the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill but if that’s true at all he certainly had an odd way of showing it. When Reid, Kennedy, and Pelosi and ditched the Hate Crimes Act (to distance the DP from any hint of association with LGBT rights) Obama zipped his mouth shut and kept it shut ‘til the deed was done. Nothing and no one could get him to utter a peep of protest even though passage of this bill is vital to our security.

We can only hope that he zips it up about same sex marriage too but we all know that not in the cards. Obama will never jeopardize the fruits of his long history of pandering to christer bigots. Count on it. What a friend we have in Obama! Hallelujah. Etc.

For his part McCain consistently votes against hate crimes legislation. He’s an honest bigot. He doesn’t pretend to be our friend.

I agree wholeheartedly that these crimes endanger all of us. We're not in any imminent danger of fascism no matter who wins. That aside, we still have to remember that violence does escalate if it’s not suppressed by laws and self-defense efforts. Priest or pastor, the christist right viciously promotes violence and hatred against us. Think for a moment how many people the Nazi's killed in 1927, a couple of hundred; and how many in 1938, a few tens of thousands; and how many in 1944, several millions. It was ultimately over thirty million.

Give them an inch and they'll take your life.
We have to insist on the immediate passage of the hate crimes bill, stiffened by the measures Polar spoke of.

I hope the hate crimes bill is strengthened next year, to include a provision making the defendant of the hate crime charge automatically charged with a first-degree felony, not amendable downward by prosecutors or juries.

When people start going to jail for life without parole, or possibly to lethal injection, for murdering people based on GLBT, or race, sex, or national origin for that matter, then these crimes may slow down.

it is time that, as a nation, we stand and say these crimes are unacceptable, and that the people who commit them haven't been fooled or deceived - they planned and executed them, and they are animals to be put away for the good of society.

Period.


Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | August 28, 2008 6:42 AM

Education, communication, familiarity, and information. Yes, punish the guilty, but prevent the future victims from existing. There will always be fools, bullies, and bigots. There will also, unfortunately, be drug infused versions of the above.

What we need most are federal and state prosecutors who care about victims more.