Last night, the Covenant Metropolitan Community Church in Birmingham held a vigil for Billy Jack Gaither, a man who was killed by two acquaintances on February 19 who said they beat him to death and burned his body because he was gay. The two, Steven Eric Mullins and Charles Monroe Butler, were arrested and have been charged with open counts of murder. A grand jury has yet to decide the exact charges. This killing mirrored that of Matthew Sheppard last year in Wyoming. Matthew was beaten, tortured, tied to a post and left to die by two men who said that he had made a pass at them.
Across the street from the vigil, holding a counter-vigil was the group headed by Fred Phelps of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church. Some may remember Phelps as the man who held a sign across the street from Matthew Shephard’s funeral which said “God Hates Fags”–which is also the name of his website.
- Kerry Lauerman, Senior Editor for Mother Jones who just published a story in the magazine on Phelps entitled “The Man Who Loves to Hate.”
- Bill Singleton, reporter for the Birmingham Post-Herald who covered the vigil last night for Billy Jack Gaither at the Covenant Metropolitan Community Church in Birmingham, Alabama, as well as the counter-vigil held by Phelps and his group.