Support The Matthew Shepard Act: Sign The Care2 Petition

Beaten to death for being a transgender woman, a reality Colorado is coming to sobering terms with as the murder trial of 18-year-old Angie Zapata got underway Monday. Almost a full year after Angie Zapata’s death, her trial is once again highlighting the need for The Matthew Shepard Act so that existing federal hate-crime laws can be extended to include motivations based on a perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. Find out how you can help the Matthew Shepard Act cause below.

The Angie Zapata Murder Trial
Allen Andrade, 32, will be tried for first-degree murder for beating Zapata unconscious with his fists, then repeatedly clubbing her with a fire extinguisher to make sure that he had “killed it”, as he later told police. Charges brought against Andrade’s charges also include a hate-crime, which could add a full three years to Andrade’s sentence because Colorado’s law allows for hate-crime protections for transgender victims after an addition to the hate-crimes statute was made in 2005. Colorado is one of only eleven states to have hate-crime laws and Andrade is believed to be the first person to be charged for a hate-crime perpetrated against a transgender victim.

Andrade is reported to have told police that he experienced a blind rage whilst in Angie Zapata’s apartment after finding out that Zapata was born male (only after spending the night with her and receiving oral sex, though they had been dating some time after meeting on an internet dating site) and that he felt all “gay things need to die”, which, in this instance, meant the brutal murder of young Angie Zapata, who, whilst having dressed and identified as a woman since she was sixteen was still biologically male.

Andrade left Zapata’s disfigured and bloody body under a sheet in the Greeley apartment where she was killed, an apartment that she and her sister shared. He took various items from her apartment including photos of Zapata which hinted at her previous gender identity, as well as the fire extinguisher, stole her car and fled the scene. Zapata’s sister was the one to find her body. The police caught Andrade by tracking Zapata’s stolen vehicle and took him into custody two weeks later. The selection process for a jury began Monday 13th of April, with the expectation that this would be a high profiled case.

The “Panic Defense” Returns in the Zapata Case

Shortly after Zapta’s brutal death had come to light The Denver Post reported that Andrade’s defense had attempted to have first-degree murder dropped to second in the hope that they could establish a “trans-rage” defense, or, rather, that Andrade was so blinded by his “panic” when he found out that Zapata was still biologically male, he went temporarily insane.

In a similar vein, during the murder trial of Mathew Shepard, who was killed in 1998 near Laramie, Wyoming, the idea of a gay panic defense was used to try and establish that Shepard had lured his two killers out to that lonely Wyoming field with the notion of having sex with them, and that the two men had gone into a “homosexual panic” (a state of temporary violent insanity)  which caused the killing: they lashed Shepard to a fence post and beat him so hard with the butt of a gun that he never woke up. This panic defense was denied then, and it was also denied in the Zapata case.

The Need for the Matthew Shepard Act
Angie Zapata’s case highlights why Care2 and The Human Rights Campaign, as well as many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups throughout America, are calling for the Matthew Shepard Act to become federal law, an Act that, far from censoring the rights of those who would want to voice their moral objections to LGBTs, would allow more funding and the ability for investigators and prosecutors to pursue convictions of hate-crimes, as well as providing accurate statistics for hate-crimes perpetrated against transgender people which are currently not tracked.

The Matthew Shepard Act would also allow crimes based on motivations of hate to be investigated by the Department of Justice more easily, as well as adding the classifications of “gender” and “gender identity” to the Hate Crimes Statistics Act.

Often, the transgender community is left out when we talk about LGBT rights, but in helping The Matthew Shepard Act become federal law you will be helping transgender people, as well as all LGBs, to get the justice and protections they deserve. And how can you help The Matthew Shepard Act become federal law?

Sign this Care2 petition now, and make sure that cases like Angie Zapata’s tragic death are properly investigated and tried for the hate and ignorance they stand for.


Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to Photo Junkie 23.

7 comments

Carol H.
Past Member 10 years ago

I don't care who you might be there should protection for all of us.
None of us have the right to judge anyone for who they are there is only one man that can do that and that is GOD and that is the way it is.

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suzanne s.
suzanne s10 years ago

in truth, human sexuality is a life-long fluid mystery, to be embraced as a fascinating gift in ourselves and everyone. it is an insult to god to do otherwise.

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Eva S.
Eva S10 years ago

Why do people have to be labeled gay, lesbian, straight, transgender? A person was beaten and killed - plain and simple. A person was arrested - plain and simple. Murder is against the law and I don't see how that would change by trying to create another law with a specific name on it. I think everyone needs to focus on justice being served regardless of the sexual orientation involved. Crimes of passion are always ugly.

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Alice B.
Alice B10 years ago

Sexual/affectional orientation really means: FREEDOM TO LOVE HUMANELY, OPENLY, AND TRULY! Genocide against us LGBTs is the NORM now throughout the World - we are under attack EVERYWHERE, EVERY DAY & NIGHT.
The "people" [sic] who are pushing and perpetrating this pandemic, worldwide genocide are all self-hating stupified brainwashed sex-hating, life-hating monsters. But they are also: our relative, our neighbors, our coworkers, our pub-mates, our teachers, our supervisors, our bosses, our pastors, our Imams, our priests, our elected officials, our community "leaders," our partners [not mine!], even our own children [again, not mine!]. Just as in Nazi Germany - the face of Hatred is RIGHT NEXT TO US - AND ALL TOO OFTEN, THE FACE IN THE MIRROR.
Take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself: WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO DO, TO FIGHT FOR THE SURVIVAL OF US LGBTs - INCLUDING LGBT YOUTH AND CHILDREN?!!

Or are you one of the many who are standing on the sidelines, wringing your hands, and saying, "I can't do anything."

Hitler made sure to round up, torture, maim and kill as many LGBTs as he and his thugs and monsters possibly could. The propaganda they used was little different from the sewage being spewed by homophobes here and worldwide: it's ALL LIES and it's ALL BEING ALLOWED AND SPREAD to help soul-shriveled "people" feel big and strong.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO STOP IT?!

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Paula Englert
Paula E10 years ago

There need to be as many laws as it takes for criminals not to be able to slip through loopholes to avoid prosecution and having to suffer the consequences for their actions. We need a "Live and Let Live" type law.

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Kelly Allen
Kelly Allen10 years ago

My question is, when the speech and/or a crime comes against you and those you love, will or would you feel the same way..... And the laws we have are more often than not, do not apply fairly or evenly to the LGBT community.... As they did not for Blacks before Civil rights....

Everyone deserves to be heard and respected, Everyone... Fairly under the law.... This is a Civil Rights issue... And I believe the Mathew Sheppard Act needs to be passed, so that everyone can feel they are equally protected and cherished in the United States....

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Dale Stensland
Dale Stensland10 years ago

it is footing for the stifling of free speech in America. READ between the lines folks. Laws are apready in place for assault , battery kidnaping ect. how many laws do you want?

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