Much along party lines, America’s Representatives voiced and voted their true feelings about the GLBTQ population today in Congress. The “Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009”, H.R. 1913, better known as the Matthew Shepard Act, has a long history and pays homage to someone who became the face of hate crime, not only in this country but around the world.
Judy Shepard, mother of a 21 year-old, 100 pound Matthew, who just over ten years ago outside of Laramie, Wisconsin, was brutally beaten to death, was in Congress, to hear Rep. Virgina Foxx (R – North Carolina) say that her son Matthew “was killed in the commitment of a robbery. It wasn’t because he was gay. This bill that was named for him, hate crimes bill was named for him, but it’s really a hoax that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills.” She also claimed that “Forty-five states already have hate crimes laws – so this federal law not needed.”
Barney Frank had many moving words to say in favor of the bill, including this simple thought: “I am not seeking your approval for the way I live. Your approval is not terribly important to me. This is not a request for acceptance. We don’t want it, we don’t need it from those people.”
This legislation will enable the U.S. Justice Department to investigate and, if need be, prosecute bias-motivated violence against a person based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. It does not allow the government to prosecute someone for their thoughts or religious beliefs, only for acts of violence. It still needs to be voted and passed by the Senate, later this year, where Senator Ted Kennedy introduced it yesterday. It is expected to be signed by President Obama.