WASHINGTON - Today, during the Senate introduction of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, Sens. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and Gordon Smith, R-Ore., renamed the Senate version of the legislation the "Matthew Shepard Act."The renaming of the Senate version of the legislation was done in honor of hate crime victim Matthew Shepard who died more than eight years ago in Laramie, Wyo., and highlighted the problem of anti-gay hate crimes for many Americans. The bill would strengthen the ability of law enforcement officials to investigate and prosecute hate crimes.
"Dennis and I are deeply honored that Senators Smith and Kennedy have renamed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act the 'Matthew Shepard Act.' This is a beautiful tribute to our son and his memory," said Judy Shepard, executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation and mother of Matthew Shepard.
"After eight and a half years since Matthew's death, his memory continues to be a ringing reminder, even at the highest levels of our government, about the need for this legislation," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "It is our hope that Congress will finally pass the Matthew Shepard Act and Judy Shepard will have stood at her last press conference on Capitol Hill pleading with our elected leaders to pass this critical piece of legislation."
View pictures of today's press conference.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
The Matthew Shepard Foundation was founded by Dennis and Judy Shepard in memory of their 21-year-old son, Matthew, who was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime in Wyoming in October 1998. Created to honor Matthew in a manner that was appropriate to his dreams, beliefs and aspirations, the Foundation seeks to "Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion & Acceptance" through its varied education, outreach and advocacy programs. For more information, please visit www.MatthewShepard.org.
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