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Sensing a historic opportunity, public relations teams of homosexual activists went into overdrive in Laramie, pushing the narrative that Mr. Shepard had been murdered simply for “being gay” and that the “hate-filled” pro-family “Truth in Love” ads were complicit.

Major network figures such as NBC’s David Gregory suggested that Mr. Shepard was the victim of “a new cultural war against gays and lesbians” by “religious right groups.” Katie Couric of NBC’s “Today” showasked a homosexual activist, “Do you believe this ad campaign launch by some conservative groups really contributed somehow to Matthew Shepard’s death?” The activist, Elizabeth Birch, quickly replied “I do, Katie,” and said “they happen because people’s minds have been twisted with cruel stereotypes about gay and lesbian people.”

Apart from the slander, the truth is far more complicated, as an ABC News “20/20” investigative report revealed:

“Former Laramie Police Detective Ben Fritzen, one of the lead investigators in the case believed robbery was the primary motive. ‘Matthew Shepard’s sexual preference or sexual orientation certainly wasn’t the motive in the homicide,’ he said. ‘If it wasn’t Shepard, they would have found another easy target. What it came down to really is drugs and money.’”

There’s more, but the point is that the media did not let facts get in the way of their narrative: Pro-family Christians and their hateful message killed this poor young man.

Using Mr. Shepard’s tragic death as a rallying point, liberals rammed through the federal hate crimes law, which President Obama signed in October 2009. The law adds penalties on top of a criminal conviction if the criminal has actionable thoughts when assaulting the victim. That makes some victims more valued under the law than others. The mass killings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. on July 20, for example, don’t meet the standard for a “hate crime.”

Hate-crime laws are wrong because they violate the concept of equal protection and they allow the government to criminalize thoughts and, thereby, speech.

It’s also wrong to hang the “hate” tag on opponents with whom you disagree.

We can thank God that Mr. Johnson was only wounded in the attack on FRC and is recovering well and that the 50 rounds of ammunition in Mr. Corkins‘ backpack did not get used.

We also can hope and pray that the left-wing campaign to demonize Christians with the hate label will lose power now that it’s been exposed.

Robert Knight is a senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a columnist for The Washington Times.