Neil G. Giuliano is an American gay rights activist. He was the former four-term Republican mayor (1994-2004) of Tempe, Arizona. He chaired the commission in charge of hosting the third debate of the 2004 United States presidential elections. He has served as President of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) since September 1, 2005.
Question: What has changed since Matthew Shephard’s death?
Neil Giuliano: I think one of the most important things to note in the almost 10 years since Matthew was tragically killed is that those tragedies have not ended. In fact, there have been hundreds of other people who have been killed in the ten years since Matthew was killed; some very high profile ones just recently in Florida, in South Carolina a year ago, in Oxnard, California not long ago with Lawrence King. And I think one of the things that has happened with regard to the broad defamation is that there—I would agree with those that would say, well there’s less and less defamation, people are more politically correct. I think that may be true, but what is also true is that the intensity of the defamation, coming from those who really believe that LGBT people are evil and morally wrong and so forth, that has only heightened. I mean, just look just in recent weeks the state representative in the State of Oklahoma who said that gay people are a larger threat to society than terrorism—this is coming from an elected official—and then had hundreds of people rally to her support. So we have a long way to go. Even though the broad defamation may have lessened, the intensity that exists is I think even stronger than ever.
Question: What is the status of hate groups today?
Neil Giuliano: Well the number of hate organizations in the country—I think Southern Poverty Law Center and their publication, The Intelligence Report, that GLAAD is actually recognizing and honoring this year, does a tremendous job of pointing out the level and number of hate organizations throughout the country, many of which take on hate specifically towards the gay community as one of their causes. And that’s there, that’s very real, and I think a lot of people in society don’t realize that those groups are there. They think of those hate groups as being racially motivated, perhaps against women, perhaps against immigrants now, but there are many that are still geared towards people of sexual orientations that are not within what they consider to be the norm.