- July 16, 2013
Today in a Politico op-ed, Matthew Shepard’s parents, Judy and Dennis, called on Congress to confirm the appointment of Tom Perez as the next Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor.
In the same month he assumed office, President Obama signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Under Perez’s leadership, the law, which is named for our son, has proven to be a powerful law enforcement tool for addressing crimes motivated by prejudice that victimize entire communities.
Over the past four years, the Department of Justice trained thousands of law enforcement officials on the tools available under the new law and prosecuted the most heinous hate crimes one could imagine. In the first instance that the statute was ever used to protect people with disabilities, Perez prosecuted a group for imprisoning four people with mental disabilities in a basement in a scheme to steal their Social Security benefits. Perez was also the first to use the statute to protect a gay victim, one who was brutally beaten by three men on a street corner in Atlanta.
The next Secretary of Labor must ensure that all members of our nation’s workforce—including LGBT individuals— have access to work-related benefits for their families and are protected from employment discrimination. Perez’s distinguished career is a testament to his commitment to LGBT equality. He has worked vigorously to uphold and protect the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans.
Earlier this year, HRC issued a letter to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions calling for Perez’s swift confirmation.
Click here to read the op-ed in its entirety.