Sidney Abbott, who
is HIV-positive, won
her 1998 Supreme
Court case over her
dentist's refusal to
treat her, but AIDS
advocates say that
ruling is in jeopardy
if the court turns
down an appeal
filed by Alabama
inmates with HIV.
Highly lauded gay
talks little of his
much about his
new film 'All
which is already
ALL THE NEWS FOR YOUR LIFE. AND YOUR STYLE.
JANUARY 7, 2000
Conservatives ask 'Who cries for Jesse?'
The rape and murder of a 13-year-old boy, allegedly by two gay
Arkansas men, has anti-gay groups crying 'double standard'
by LAURA BROWN
Matthew Shepard, 21, was taken from a bar by two men,
brutally beaten and left tied to a fence to die because he was
gay, police say.
Jesse Dirkhi.sing, 13, was tied up and brutally raped until
he suffocated on his own underwear, police say by a gay
couple engaging in a bondage-type sex act.
What's the difference between these two stories of tragic
deaths? Nothing or everything, depending on whom you
For numerous gay rights opponents—from the Family
Research Council to Americans for Truth About
Homosexuality to white supremacist David Duke—
Dirkhising's death has become the new cause celebre.
That Shepard's death drew far more national media attention than Dirkhising's, they claim, is proof positive that
mainstream media is so beholden to gays, and so riddled
with gay reporters, that it is afraid or unwilling to report on
crimes committed by gays.
"The national media, following the lead of homosexual
activists, made Matthew Shepard a household name for
most Americans," said Peter LaBarbera, president of
Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, an organization
that believes gay people can change their sexual orientation.
"But what about young Jesse?," LaBarbera asked. "Is his
death at the hands of two sadistic homosexuals less newsworthy than Shepard's at the hands of two cruel heterosexuals?"
Yet according to several national gay organizations, the
outcry over Dirkhising's death has more to do with attempts
to brand homosexuals as pedophiles, and link the issues in
both the mainstream media and public opinion, than real
concern over the child's murder.
"If the religious right wants to turn this into a referendum
on whether gay people are sadistic murderers, the media
should be commended on this particular case," said Wayne
Besen, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, a
Washington-based gay lobby.
"They didn't overreact, they saw through the attempt to
demonize gay people, and this is actually one of those
instances where they got it right," he said.
Gay groups blamed
I a Barbera could not be reached for further comment by press
time But in other press releases posted on his organization's
web-site, he went even further, blaming HRC and another of the
nation's largest gay rights groups for allegedly contributing to
"There is a more plausible link between 'gay' advocacy
institutions and Jesse's murder than between Shepard's murder and religious foes of homosexuality," the group claims,
noting that "many reporters and pundits repeated the absurd
claim by homosexual activists that the public discourse of pro-
Joshua Brown, 22, reportedly told police he and Jesse Dirkhising
were 'just playing a game,' but when police arrived at Brown's
apartment, they found the 13-year-old naked and not breathing.
family groups ... such as a series of ex-gay newspaper ads contributed to Shepard's murder by creating an environment that
encourages anti-homosexual violence."
"All across America, gay newspapers and bars and organizations not only tolerate sadistic sex but promote it,"
LaBarbera said. "In fact, on the very day of Dirkhising's
death, two leading homosexual groups, the Human Rights
Campaign and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, were
manning booths at a sadistic sex fair in San Francisco that
celebrated bondage, human floggings and the same 'S&M'
techniques that led to the death of young Jesse."
Investigators say Dirkhising died of "positional asphyxia"
after being bound, gagged, and repeatedly sodomized with
objects including foods. (See story, Page 13)
>- Continued on Page 12
Organizers of a rally against the
Texas-based oil company want
customers to destroy their credit
cards in protest of a recent
decision to end domestic partner
benefits and policies specifically
protecting its gay employees
by GIP PLASTER
Organizers hope hundreds of Houston gay men and
lesbians will rally in a city park later this month to
protest the employment policies of newly formed
Exxon Mobil Corp.
The company, formed by the merger of Exxon and
Mobil in November, retained Exxon's employment
policies and benefits and in the process, dumped the
policies of Mobil, which specifically protected gay
men and lesbians from employment discrimination
and provided domestic partner benefits.
An organizer of the rally hopes the event, planned
for Jan. 28, will send a strong message to the company,
despite the fact that Exxon Mobil's headquarters are
more than 250 miles away.
"We do not appreciate that the company took something away that was already in existence," said Dan
DiDonato, one of the gay activists organizing the rally.
DiDonato wants consumers to publicly destroy
their Exxon and Mobil credit cards and provide rally
organizers with receipts showing that they purchase
products from Exxon Mobil competitors because of the
company's change in policies.
The former Exxon Corp. has long maintained that it
does not discriminate based on sexual orientation. But
the company has refused efforts to include sexual orientation in its nondiscrimination policv.
The company instead includes only the categories
required by federal law.
But Mobil, before the merger, included sexual orientation in its nondiscrimination policy and offered
domestic partner benefits.
The two companies merged as a result of Exxon
acquiring Mobil, and the new company is governed by
Former Mobil employees who already receive
>- Continued on Page 11