[Note: Damien is the older brother of Ryan Skipper, a young gay man who was brutally killed during a hate crime on March 14, 2007 in Polk County. This note was written just days before Ryan’s second killer was convicted of First Degree Murder. Both will serve life sentences.]
Our family was invited by the Obama administration to attend a reception following the signing of the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act at the White House on October 28, 2009. The day was significant to us for many reasons. My parents are currently attending the second trial in Ryan's murder case. It would have been fitting for them to join us yesterday but I was honored to represent my entire family in Washington, DC. I feel that it is my duty to tell others about Ryan's untimely death at the hands of two men who did not value his life because he was gay. The day was also significant to me because the signing of this legislation is the result of so much hard work by many including the familes of Matthew Shepard, Sean Kennedy and our family.