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Activist groups, including Scouting for All, urge President Obama not to accept the honorary Presidency of the Boy Scouts of America until they stop discriminating.

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For Immediate Release
October 26, 2004

Clarence Patton, (212) 714-1184 or (347) 683-0020
Jeffrey Montgomery, (313) 537-3323 or (313) 506-1847

Gay Anti-Violence Programs Decry ABC News Segment on Shepard Murder Say 20/20 Segment's Intent is To Malign Victim and Cause Pain for Family and Community

New York

Responding to the imminent airing of an ABC News 20/20 segment on the murder of Matthew Shepard, representatives of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) called the segment "irresponsible," "biased," "shameful," and "destructive."

The gist of the segment, which purports to uncover evidence and details not raised or discussed in the 1999 trial of Aaron McKinney, one of the two men accused of murdering Shepard, is that the murder was not
hate-motivated, but instead motivated by drug use.

"The fact is that there is nothing significant in 20/20's program that wasn't raised during the trial," said Clarence Patton, NCAVP's Acting Executive Director. "One has to question the motivation of the show's producers in not only attempting to engage in revisionist history, but in doing so at this point in time, as the nation's lesbian and gay community is fighting for its life to an extent not seen in years," continued Patton.

According to data gathered by NCAVP, anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender violence increased 26% nationally at the end of 2003, and has continued to rise throughout 2004.

"I was in Laramie after Matthew's murder and at the trial, his murderers acknowledged that they killed him because of his sexual orientation, and they in fact offered a 'homosexual panic' defense," said Jeff Montgomery, NCAVP's Board Co-Chair.

The 20/20 segment's focus is on the role the methamphetamine 'Crystal Meth" played in the behavior of
McKinney and Russell Henderson, Shepard's killers. "That drugs may have played a role in a violent crime and in this murder is not news," said Patton. He continued, "Everyone knows that drugs and alcohol often play a
part in hate crimes and bias-related incidents, as they do with most forms of violent crime from domestic violence to rape and sexual assault to murder. Drug and alcohol use by perpetrators can fuel the intensity of
the violence in an any one incident, increase the willingness of perpetrators to act out hateful impulses, or be used as a intentional motivator to carry out a planned attack." "However, such brutal and severe violence, "overkill" if you will, and leaving someone to die tied to a fence is not a marker of drug-fueled violence; it's a marker of hate violence," added Montgomery.

"Had 20/20 actually wanted to do a fair and balanced story on this or any other anti-gay hate murder, they would
have reached out to experts on anti-gay hate violence; they didn't; had they wanted to examine the impact or prevalence of drug use in violent crime or hate crimes, they would have reached out to criminal justice officials or hate violence victim advocates with expertise in those areas; they didn't, and those are only two among many factors in determining that the real goal of this story wasn't to unearth new information or even report additional context, but to malign the victim, mortify his family and inflict pain on the larger LGBT community that came to identify with Matthew, his life, and the fear that we all live with as a community under attack," concluded Patton.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs addresses the pervasive problem of violence committed against and within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive communities. NCAVP is a coalition of programs that document and advocate for victims of anti-LGBT and anti-HIV/AIDS violence/harassment, domestic violence, sexual assault, police misconduct and other forms of victimization. Further, NCAVP supports existing anti-violence organizations and emerging local programs in their efforts to document and
prevent such violence.




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