by Judy Shepard
October 28, 2009
When Dennis and I started calling 10 years ago for federal action to prevent and properly prosecute hate crimes against gay, lesbian and transgendered Americans, we never imagined it would take this long.
The legislation went through so many versions and so many votes that we had to constantly keep our hopes in check to keep from getting discouraged. But with President Obama’s support and the continually growing bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate lining up behind the bill this year, it became clear that 2009 was the year it would finally happen.
We are incredibly grateful to Congress and the president for taking this step forward on behalf of hate crime victims and their families, especially given the continuing attacks on people simply for living their lives openly and honestly. But each of us can and must do much more to ensure true equality for all Americans.
Campaigning for hate-crimes legislation may be what I am known best for, but our family and the Matthew Shepard Foundation will continue to push for true equality for every American until the work is complete. Too many people face the threat of losing their jobs or their homes due to their sexual orientation. Too many same-sex couples lack legal protections for their property, their health care decisions, and their children. Too many devoted and dedicated servicemembers are being turned away by our armed forces.
I hope, as you reflect on the success of the hate crime prevention bill, that you also take the extra step of contacting your state and federal elected officials in support of full equality for all citizens, regardless of difference.
Be open about who you are and who you love. Dispel stereotypes and assumptions. Tell your stories. And support the continued work of the Matthew Shepard Foundation to “Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion, and Acceptance.”
Thanks to all who helped us achieve this success today. You are making a difference.
President, Board of Directors, Matthew Shepard Foundation