I post it so readers can hear both sides of the story. My sense is that we'll never know the truth behind the Matthew Shepard murder, but one thing is clear: It was overused as a poster case for anti-homophobia causes and got hyper-politicized by the Gay Lobby. Regardless of whether the murderer used the word "fag" to describe Shepard -- a word many gays use to describe each other anyway -- there was obviously a lot going on and this wasn't a simple gay-bashing, so it should have never been catapulted to such notoriety nationwide.
It was something that happened in Laramie, which is evidently a tightly-knit community that can't be understood well by outsiders. The problem is that Laramie natives can't have it both ways, on the one hand claiming exclusive access to the details of this case, and on the other hand expecting their dramas to serve as an allegory and template on which all of America must hinge public policy. Beyond the small Wyoming town where it happened, it probably should have been the subject of prayer and grieving, but not massive political propaganda. And for sure, this case had nothing to do with same-sex marriage or same-sex parenting or the potential benefits of either.
One more thing can be learned from this debate about who Matthew Shepard was and why he was killed: People who claim to be fighting for gay people have to stop making everything about fighting homophobia and being equal to straight people. We now have a generation of young people who identify as LGBT and who face problems overwhelmingly disconnected from the question of whether straight people approve of their sex lives or from the question of whether they feel just as good as straight people. They have to deal with a dating scene full of violence, rampant drug problems, anorexia and bulimia, depression, sexual assault, sexually transmitted diseases, and suicidal ideation that stems most often from romantic longing and a sense of loneliness. None of that is being helped by searching incessantly for homophobes (now a dwindling population anyway) and brow-beating them into submission. It's time for the gays to work on the gays.