Thursday, March 22, 2007

Matthew Shepard Foundation Applauds Reintroduction of Federal Hate Crimes Legislation

Source: Matthew Shepard Foundation
Date: March 21, 2007

CASPER, WY -- The Matthew Shepard Foundation applauds last night's reintroduction of inclusive hate crimes legislation in the House of Representatives. Titled the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 (LLEHCPA), this bill is an appropriate and measured response to the unrelenting and under-addressed problem of violent hate crimes committed against individuals based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability.

The following statement can be attributed to Judy Shepard, Executive Director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation and mother of Matthew Shepard:

''The reintroduction of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA) in the House of Representatives last night marks a very important moment for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community. For far too long violence motivated by hatred against GLBT individuals has gone unrecognized by the Federal Government as well as many local agencies.

The LLEHCPA will provide local law enforcement with the added resources and support needed for investigating and prosecuting serious hate crimes that are not currently included in existing law. The investigation of Matthew's murder and the trial of his killers cost Albany County in Wyoming more than $150,000. This unplanned financial burden forced the Sheriff's Department to furlough five of its employees. If the LLEHCPA had been the law of the land in 1998, this reduction in vital staff could have been averted, while still ensuring that justice was served for my son.

As citizens of this great country, we have an opportunity right now to ensure that this vital piece of legislation is enacted. Since Matthew was killed in 1998 for being gay, almost 10,000 violent acts of hate against individuals based on their sexual orientation have been reported to the authorities. Whether it is for Matthew or for the victims of the thousands of other violent hate crimes that have taken place over the years, I urge the GLBT community and its allies to make the passage of this bill a top priority. Please contact your representative today to ask them to co-sponsor the LLEHCPA or thank them if they have already signed up. We all have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of millions, please act today.''

For information on how to contact your congressman and to see if they are already a co-sponsor of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 please visit:

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

CONTACT: Matthew Matassa, Communications Director, of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, 303-830-7400 ext. 14, 303-588-2872,