Washington, DC — October 13, 1998 — DignityUSA, along with all of our members and chapters, mourns the brutal and senseless death of Matthew Shepard. DignityUSA also wishes to extend its sympathy and condolences to his family and friends.
DignityUSA executive director, Charles L. Cox in a statement said: "It is unfortunate that it has taken the death of this young, gifted man to make our nation aware of the violence that is regularly directed at lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender persons. While the murder of Matthew Shepard is an extreme example of a hate motivated crime, we cannot, nor should we forget the thousands of gay men and women who experience each day some form of verbal or physical abuse solely because of their sexual orientation. Let us hope and pray that Matthew Shepard's passing will not fade from our nation's conscience and that we may one day see an end to all hate crimes."
Robert F. Miailovich, president of DignityUSA also said, "The men who committed this crime, like other perpetrators of hate crimes, did not get their attitudes out of thin air; nor did they learn to hate or act on their intolerance over night. Unfortunately, they learned from too many sources that attacking a gay man is okay." Commenting further, Miailovich said, "I and every member of Dignity hope that the people of Wyoming, as well as every person in this country, will look at themselves honestly and see how they may be helping to legitimize verbal and physical abuse."
DignityUSA asks that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, help stop the hate and intolerance that is griping our nation, and take the Solidarity Sunday Pledge. We ask that everyone pledge to
- Work for civil and human rights for all people, including gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender persons.
- Stop jokes and unkind language about anyone, including gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender persons when spoken in my presence.
- Speak out against any slander, debasement, lies, or dehumanization of anyone, including gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender persons when spoken by political and religious leaders.
- Work to stop physical violence against anyone, including violence against gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender persons.
We also ask everyone to pray the Solidarity Sunday Prayer.
God, You are the Creator and Lover of all.
You wish us to live in solidarity with each other and to rejoice in our diversity.
We pray that all your lesbian, gay, bisexual; transgender and straight children may experience justice, enjoy peace, and spread Your love throughout the world.
We pray in the name of Jesus, who welcomed all to His circle of friends. Amen.
DignityUSA, founded in 1969, is the nation's largest organization of Catholic lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender persons, and their loved ones, families and friends.