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Matthew Shepard

For Matthew …

Biography data: Via Wikipedia

Matthew Wayne Shepard (December 1, 1976 – October 12, 1998) was a student at the University of Wyoming who was tortured and murdered near Laramie, Wyoming, in October 1998. He was attacked on the night of October 6–7, and died at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 12 from severe head injuries.

During the trial, witnesses stated that Shepard was targeted because of his sexual orientation. Shepard’s murder brought national and international attention to the contention of hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels.

In 2009, his mother Judy Shepard authored a book The Meaning of Matthew: My Son’s Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed. On October 22, 2009, the United States Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (Matthew Shepard Act for short), and on October 28, 2009, President Obama signed the legislation into law.

Shortly after midnight on October 6, 1998, Shepard met Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson for the first time at the Fireside Lounge in Laramie, Wyoming. It was decided that McKinney and Henderson would give Shepard a ride home.McKinney and Henderson subsequently drove the car to a remote, rural area and proceeded to rob, pistol-whip, and torture Shepard, tying him to a fence and leaving him to die. According to their court testimony, McKinney and Henderson also discovered his address and intended to steal from his home. Still tied to the fence, Shepard, who was still alive but in a coma, was discovered 18 hours later by Aaron Kreifels, a cyclist who initially mistook Shepard for a scarecrow.

Shepard had suffered fractures to the back of his head and in front of his right ear. He experienced severe brain-stem damage, which affected his body’s ability to regulate heart rate, body temperature, and other vital functions. There also were about a dozen small lacerations around his head, face, and neck. His injuries were deemed too severe for doctors to operate. Shepard never regained consciousness and remained on full life support. While he lay in intensive care, candlelight vigils were held by the people of Laramie.

Shepard was pronounced dead at 12:53 a.m. on October 12, 1998, at Poudre Valley Hospital, in Fort Collins, Colorado.


“Crimes that are meant not only to break bones but to break spirits”

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obamasigning

No one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hand of the person they love.”
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Here are the remarks President Obama made a few minutes ago following the signing of the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Hate Crime Prevention Act into law.

“After more than a decade of delay, we have passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray or who they are.”

“As a nation we’ve come far on the journey toward a more perfect union and today we’re taking another step forward.”

He described hate crimes as “… crimes that are meant not only to break bones but to break spirits, not only to inflict harm but to inspire fear. We understand that the rights afforded every citizen under our Constitution mean nothing if we do not protect those rights from unjust laws and violent acts and we understand how necessary this law continues to be.”

Lifted from: An Inch at a Time.


"Crimes that are meant not only to break bones but to break spirits"

hatex390

obamasigning

No one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hand of the person they love.”
.
Here are the remarks President Obama made a few minutes ago following the signing of the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Hate Crime Prevention Act into law.

“After more than a decade of delay, we have passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray or who they are.”

“As a nation we’ve come far on the journey toward a more perfect union and today we’re taking another step forward.”

He described hate crimes as “… crimes that are meant not only to break bones but to break spirits, not only to inflict harm but to inspire fear. We understand that the rights afforded every citizen under our Constitution mean nothing if we do not protect those rights from unjust laws and violent acts and we understand how necessary this law continues to be.”

Lifted from: An Inch at a Time.


Hate crimes bill goes to Obama for signature

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Taken from: CNN. com Online report

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The Senate passed groundbreaking legislation Thursday that would make it a federal crime to assault an individual because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.

The expanded federal hate crimes law now goes to President Obama’s desk. Obama has pledged to sign the measure, which was added to a $680 billion defense authorization bill.

President George W. Bush had threatened to veto a similar measure.

The bill is named for Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming teenager who died after being kidnapped and severely beaten in October 1998, and James Byrd Jr., an African-American man dragged to death in Texas the same year.

“Knowing that the president will sign it, unlike his predecessor, has made all the hard work this year to pass it worthwhile,” said Judy Shepard, board president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation named for her son. “Hate crimes continue to affect far too many Americans who are simply trying to live their lives honestly, and they need to know that their government will protect them from violence, and provide appropriate justice for victims and their families.”

Several religious groups have expressed concern that a hate-crimes law could be used to criminalize conservative speech relating to subjects such as abortion or homosexuality.

Attorney General Eric Holder has asserted that any federal hate-crimes law would be used only to prosecute violent acts based on bias, as opposed to the prosecution of speech based on controversial racial or religious beliefs.

Holder called Thursday’s 68-29 Senate vote to approve the defense spending bill that included the hate crimes measure “a milestone in helping protect Americans from the most heinous bias-motivated violence.”

“The passage of this legislation will give the Justice Department and our state and local law enforcement partners the tools we need to deter and prosecute these acts of violence,” he said in a statement.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, called the measure “our nation’s first major piece of civil rights legislation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

“Too many in our community have been devastated by hate violence,” Solmonese said in a statement. “We now can begin the important steps to erasing hate in our country.”

This month, Obama told the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest gay rights group, that the nation still needs to make significant changes to ensure equal rights for gays and lesbians.

“Despite the progress we’ve made, there are still laws to change and hearts to open,” he said during his address at the dinner for the Human Rights Campaign. “This fight continues now, and I’m here with the simple message: I’m here with you in that fight.”

Among other things, Obama has called for the repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the military, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. He also has urged Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and pass the Domestic Partners Benefit and Obligations Act.

The Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage, for federal purposes, as a legal union between a man and a woman. It allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages. The Domestic Partners Benefit and Obligations Act would extend family benefits now available to heterosexual federal employees to gay and lesbian federal workers.

More than 77,000 hate-crime incidents were reported by the FBI between 1998 and 2007, or “nearly one hate crime for every hour of every day over the span of a decade,” Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee in June.

The FBI, Holder added, reported 7,624 hate-crime incidents in 2007, the most current year with complete