Rios at the Values Voter Summit
WATCH: Right-Wing Leader: Shepard Murder Not a Hate Crime

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com October 12 2013 1:01 PM ET

Antigay activist Sandy Rios Friday joined the chorus of those claiming Matthew Shepard’s murder was not a hate-motivated crime, saying LGBT leaders and the media have built a “fairy tale” around it.

At the Values Voter Summit, a gathering of right-wing activists being held in Washington, D.C., Rios said Shepard’s 1998 murder was motivated by a drug deal gone bad and that the killers had had sex with him.

“The story was that they murdered him because he was gay, and he became a martyr for the gay movement,” Rios said. “In fact, the hate-crimes bill was passed with his name attached to it. … “Except, wait a second, it wasn’t true.”

She cited a new book covered by The Advocate, The Book of Matt by Stephen Jimenez, that claims Shepard was a drug user and dealer and that he had been involved sexually with one of his killers, Aaron McKinney. (For a different take on these assertions, see Advocate staffer Neal Broverman’s commentary.)

Rios, a radio host and a Fox News contributor, also decried society’s acceptance of LGBT people in general and the characterization of certain antigay organizations as hate groups. These include some of the summit’s sponsors, such as the American Family Association and the Family Research Council. Watch her remarks on Shepard below.