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Matthew Shepard Mom Uses Anniversary To Call For Hate Crimes Law


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Matthew Shepard Mom Uses Anniversary To Call For Hate Crimes Law

by Doreen Brandt 365Gay.com Washington Bureau

Posted: October 12, 2005 3:00 pm ET

(Washington) The mother of Matthew Shepard is using the 7th anniversary of his death to call on Congress to enact legislation adding sexuality to hate crimes laws.

“No mother should have to see her child’s life cut short because of hate,” said Judy Shepard.

“My son Matthew was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime seven years ago this month. Since then, too many other innocent Americans have been attacked or killed because they were gay or transgender. But Congress still hasn’t acted. Every American child deserves the strongest protections from some of this country’s most heinous crimes.”

The House of Representatives passed legislation last month to expand federal hate crimes laws to include gays, lesbians and the transgendered (story) but a Senate version remains tied up in committee, and would not cover transsexuals.

Called the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act it has passed the Senate in previous congressional sessions only to die in the House.

The bill would allow the Department of Justice to assist local authorities in investigating and prosecuting cases in which violence occurs

Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student, was kidnapped, pistol-whipped, robbed and left to die tied to a fence outside Laramie. He died five days later in hospital on October 12, 1988.

Two men, Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney are each serving two life sentences for the killing.

Since her son's murder Judy Shepard has been an outspoken advocate of LGBT rights especially the need for hate crimes legislation.

“Judy carries Matthew’s torch and inspires millions with her story,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

“Everybody should take action today by asking their Senators to pass hate crimes laws that protect the GLBT community from hate violence, as the House did just last month.”

Last April a report released by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs showed violence against members of the LGBT community is on the rise.

Overall, NCAVP’s report noted a 4% increase in reported incidents of anti-LGBT violence. Such incidents rose from 1,720 in 2003 to 1,792 in 2004.

Included in the rise in incidents for the year, was an 11% increase in anti-LGBT murders, which rose from 18 in 2003 to 20 in 2004. During 2004, the total number of victims rose 4%, from 2,042 in 2003 to 2,131 in 2004.

©365Gay.com 2005


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