- February 24, 2014
Post submited by Dan Rafter, Former HRC Associate Director of Communications
Rush Limbaugh today claimed that Matthew Shepard – the 21 year-old who lost his life 15 years ago in a brutal attack – wasn’t killed because of his sexual orientation. On his show today, Limbaugh said:
What we have here is a portion of the play-by-play of the Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins, the first openly gay player to actually play in a professional sports game. It happened last night. The Brooklyn Nets against the Los Angeles Lakers. This is the Nets play-by-play announcer Ryan Ruocco, as Jason Coll -- who by the way took number 98 in solidarity with Matthew Shepard, who was, it's now been proven didn't happen, but reputed to have beaten up by a bunch of anti-gay bigots.
Limbaugh went on to say that “hate crime crap” was just a “leftist creation."
Limbaugh’s insensitive remarks minimize the life of Matthew Shepard and the heightened awareness of the violence LGBT people face following his death. Matthew Shepard was beaten and left for dead, tied to a fence post in Laramie, Wyoming. Matthew passed away several days later, never regaining consciousness after the attack.
More than a decade later, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a federal law protecting LGBT individuals against biased crimes, was signed into law by President Barack Obama.
It’s shocking that someone – even Rush Limbaugh, known for his inflammatory remarks – would make such a declaration about Matthew Shepard. But Limbaugh’s remarks serve to remind us that, despite our victories, we still have a long road ahead of us in the fight for equality. We are working toward a country where no one ever feels unsafe or unloved in their community simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity – and Limbaugh’s comments push us to work even harder to make that day a reality.