Politics

Rep. Steve King: Matthew Shepard’s Sexual Orientation Had Nothing To Do With His Murder

Rep. Steve King Yesterday, the House voted “to expand the definition of violent federal hate crimes to those committed because of a victim’s sexual orientation” by passing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

The right put its homophobia on full display in an attempt to kill the legislation, with Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) saying that it would lead to Nazism, and the legalization of necrophilia, pedophilia, and bestiality.

Today in an interview with Radio America/WorldNetDaily, Rep. Steve King (R-IA)
— who has said that hate crimes legislation creates “sacred cows” and puts the “victimizer’s focus on someone else” — tried to argue that such a bill is unnecessary. His argument? Matthew Shepard himself wasn’t actually murdered because he was gay:

KING: I didn’t make the point, but others did, that James Byrd was sentenced to death in Texas, and I don’t know if that sentence has been carried out yet. But he received highest penalty available under the law for the dragging death of James Byrd. And the Matthew Shepard case, there’s been a fair amount of information that came out that that really wasn’t the motivation of the people who killed him, but they did receive the maximum penalty under the law.

Listen here:

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) made this same claim in April: “We know that that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery. It wasn’t because he was gay.” Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solomnese wrote the congresswoman a letter calling on her to make a full apology. Foxx eventually said that she was “sorry” if Shepard’s “grieving family was offended by my statement,” but she stood by her comments that his murder may not have been motivated by hate.

Both Foxx and King are completely out of line. As Salon reported in November 1999:

Speculation has persisted for the past year that Matthew Shepard, rather than being the victim of gay-bashing, might really have been nothing more than a hapless robbery victim who was exploited by gay activists to reap unwarranted sympathy and advance their own agenda to enact hate-crimes legislation. Statements made by one of the convicted killers, which were revealed for the first time Thursday, reveal these accounts to be false. […]

According to detectives who interviewed both of the convicted murderers, there is no evidence that Shepard made any sexual advances to the pair — and the detectives dismissed the idea that the murder was the mere result of a robbery gone bad. “Far from that!” scoffed Sgt. Rob DeBree, the chief investigator in the case. “They knew damn well he was gay. … It started out as a robbery and burglary, and I sincerely believe the other activity was because he was gay.”

Will King now follow Foxx and apologize to the Shepard family for making these comments?

(HT: Michael O’Brien)