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Matthew Shepard: Murdered for Being Gay

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matthew shepard

Matthew Shepard died after being severely beaten for being gay.

Image (c) Sacramento Gay & Lesbian Center

Background:

Matthew Shepard was a college student at the University of Wyoming. October 6, 1998 Matthew was attacked by two men he met at a bar. After severely beating him, they left Matthew tied to a fence in the town of in Laramie, where the assault occurred.

Matthew died at a hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 12, 1998.

The two men who attacked him were convicted of the crime and received life sentences. Both are currently in jail.

Matthew's Legacy:

Matthew's death brought attention to hate crimes against GLBT people and the horrifying effects of homophobia.

A play and a movie both called, The Laramie Project were created about the murder and the climate that bred it.

Matthew's mother, Judy Shepard, founded Matthews' Place, a website in Matthew's memory that provides resources and community to GLBT youth.

She also launched the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which "Focuses on three primary areas: Erasing hate in our society, putting GLBT youth first and ensuring equality for all GLBT Americans."

The Matthew Shepard Act:

Eleven years after Matthew Shepard's murder, President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

The Matthew Shepard Act makes hate crimes based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, illegal and it allows the Justice Department to prosecute such crimes. Until this bill passed, states decided whether or not sexual orientation and gender identity were covered by hate crime laws, and the federal hate crime laws only covered crimes based on the victim's race, color, religion or national origin.

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