The Matthew Shepard Act

hate-free-zoneThe bill also called, Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, passed the house today 249-175, over conservatives’ objections.

Hate crimes — as defined by the bill — are those motivated by prejudice and based on someone’s race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

A weaker bill died two years ago under a veto threat from President George W. Bush.

President Barack Obama, in contrast, urged support, saying it would “enhance civil rights protections, while also protecting our freedom of speech and association.” Obama called for passage in the Senate, where Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., is the chief sponsor.

The Illinois Family Institute, a conservative Christian group, said, “The bill is not about stopping crime, but about giving sexual preference the same legal status as race. This legislation is just a stepping stone to regulate the speech of people who support family values.”



Filed under GLBT Rights, hate groups

67 responses to “The Matthew Shepard Act

  1. frigginloon

    Well of course Bush W would have vetoed it (it’s not like he wanted to spread the loooove). I say yay…as long as it doesn’t protect Fred Phelps! Ooh and Fnord I have given you a very long blog etiquette spiel on Presidents 100 Days post….oooh and evening Prairie P&P’s

  2. I’ll have to go looking for that! I’ll thank you in advance until I’ve read and am able to thank you properly!

    Yes it is about time in some small ways we recognize the dignity of all people! I always think of our very own PrairiePond and the indignities that very special, super intelligent, very loving, kind, hardworking woman has experienced. Bet you can’t tell how much a fan of her I am. 😉

    I wish we didn’t have to have any special categories at all, or to even think that any person isn’t deserving of the same civil rights and protections as all others.

  3. frigginloon

    Hear, hear, hear…hmm, I am thinking the footy boys from down under may have to have a few “Hate Free Zone” lessons. Bunch of clowns.

  4. wicked

    The IFI can go you-know-what themselves.

    These are the things that make me a Liberal.

  5. lilacluvr

    What a sad commentary to think in a country that prides itself on freedom has to even have a law against hate crimes.

    What is even sadder is the fact that Christian groups are opposing the law.

    I just have to wonder why these Christians are so concerned about what happens in other peoples’ sex lives? Is it because they have no life of their own or is it because they all some sort of God-like complex. Isn’t there a mental disorder that fall under that category?

  6. …the Bible tells me so..

    Should be a song or something!

    But then remember the article yesterday about the temporary sex licenses, that detailed the way around the teachings that makes it OK while you’re still being ‘religious.’ So if it’s in the Bible and they want to use it as their weapon, the Bible is truth and nothing but the truth. However, if it’s in the Bible and an inconvenience then you find a way to circumvent.

    Uh huh. Got it.

  7. wicked


    It’s all so like the “chastity pledges”. While it’s true that for a while it did/does cut down on intercourse (using Clinton’s definition), it made oral and anal sex the thing to do. These kids aren’t stupid. Okay, they are, but one must admit that they’re crafty!

    Not teaching contraception to teens is a huge risk. Abstinence Only is fine, but only if presented in the right way with the right information to go with it.

  8. What does it do to a young person’s psyche to color a normal biological activity with sin?

    I definitely think sex should be after a person is mature enough to handle all that goes with it — and that runs the gambit from most positive to most negative. When emotions aren’t involved, why participate? When emotions are involved, there can be everything great and everything terrible. So my preference is to approach the subject not from the standpoint of sin. It’s hard enough to grow up without adding another potential layer of guilt.

  9. lilacluvr

    I had no problem with sex education being taught to my kids when they were in school (they’re grown now) because I feel every person needs to know the science involved. But I do feel that consequences from making the decision to have sex should also be taught. And not necessarily in just ‘moral’ terms but in actual physical and emotional consequences.

    I could never understand the Abstinence Only people. Why wouldn’t you want your kids to know everything in order to protect themselves?

    fnord – without piling on that guilt, alot of these churches would not have anybody show up to fill their collections plates.

    • I could never understand the Abstinence Only people. Why wouldn’t you want your kids to know everything in order to protect themselves?

      It’s a position grounded in religious emotion rather than rational thought, logic, and an honest look at facts. We know abstinence education doesn’t work and that not teaching the kids about sex has consequences. For some folks religion makes them blind to reality.

  10. Hadn’t thought about that motivation, Lilac. 😦

    Sad, isn’t it? I know you remember when going to church was a time of happy celebration, a time to fill up your tank with resolve to try harder in your personal attempt to be the always loving Christ-like person you wanted to be, a time of encouragement. And, it was yourself you worked on, because the best way to lead is by example. Judgments were left to God where they belong.

    It was in the days when the business of church and state weren’t mingled.

  11. wicked

    I agree completely, Lilac. We teach fire safety, so why not sex safety?

    On the consequences thing, I was talking to a friend the other night about a parent should approach this. She had the best idea with her kids. Instead of even going so far as to tell a child that you’d rather they didn’t engage in sexual activity, tell them what sex is about, both physically AND emotionally. Teach them about raging hormones, mention consequences, and hope they understand that sex should happen within a loving relationship, not as a social tool.

    I’m not saying that well. 😦

  12. Back in the times before mega-churches, more of the money put in the collection plate went toward helping people in need, rather than showy buildings and high salaries to put on the show of worship.

  13. I hear what you’re saying, wicked! It was what I tried to say, didn’t do a good job of, and you said much better! (Only us females are gonna understand this.)

  14. Females were truly blessed when they received only one head and thus had less conflict with what body part is used for thinking. 😉

    Of course, the males would counter that females got an extra helping of emotion which might get in the way with rational thoughts.

  15. iggydonnelly

    I’m a male, but I am staying away from the pun opportunities presented by “sex” and “social tool”. I should get some credit, maybe?

    Yeah, you’re right, I’m undeserving.

  16. iggydonnelly

    BTW, another excellent thread, fnord! This place runs better when I sleep in, I’ve decided.

    • That Iggy is not true! We need all of us. After all, aren’t we here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is? (Hat tip to Dr. Vonnegut!)

      • iggydonnelly

        Actually, I wasn’t seeking a rebuttal of my statement, but you’re too kind, as usual, fnord. Thanks.

  17. wicked

    Ah, iggy, I’m not completely awake yet and probably shouldn’t try posting until mid-afternoon at the earliest. “Social tool” wasn’t the best, uh, verbiage to use, but only what my feeble brain could come up with at that moment.

    And just to make it clear, these days it’s used as such by both males and females. Sex as a social tool, not verbiage.

    No, more sleep won’t help.

  18. wicked

    fnord…and anybody else,

    Have you read any of the Men:Mars/Women:Venus books? Quite interesting, really. It all goes back to the cavemen and cavewomen. Men were hunters, women were caretakers. It’s built into us. We may have come a long way, baby, but not all the way. 😉 (fodder for iggy there and ties in to the sex thing LOL)

  19. I haven’t read the books, wicked. But I have lived most of 62 years and none of them were in a cloistered environment so I’ve learned a tiny bit about the interaction and differences of the sexes. 😉

    Probably enough to be dangerous in thinking I know something.

  20. lilacluvr

    fnord – I think there is a difference between being spiritual and being religious. In my opinion, the bigger the church, the more religious it becomes.

    My grandfather was not a religious man but he was very spiritual. When he passed away, we saw hundreds of people at the funeral that we never even knew. And with each story the main theme was how my grandpa had helped them when they needed it the most. Sometimes it was money, sometimes it was a bag of groceries and sometimes it was just sitting and listening to them.

    My grandpa was not the kind of man to dress up and go pray his public prayers for others to see how good he was. Instead he quietly went about his life and helped others the best he could.

    Now, if that kind of Christian living was actually being preached in today’s mega churches, wouldn’t the world be a better place?

    I think that is why I resent the Social Conservative Republicans so much – they have made a mockery of the word ‘Christian’ with all their judgmental hate.

  21. iggydonnelly

    I never read the Mars/Venus books. But there has been an increased interest in culture by academic psychology in the last decade. As an example, people in the U.S. who settled in areas of the country prone to “feuding” (Hatfield & McCoy level of seriousness) came from parts of Europe that were dominated by herding economies. In herding economies, one’s entire livelihood can be snatched away in a single night (the same risk would not be true of tilling economies). People from herding economies are more prone to violently react to threats of all kinds – “honor killing” or “honor” responses are more typical of them than from tilling economy folk.

    A good book on the subject:

    Richardson, P.J., & Boyd, R. (2005). _Not by genes alone: How culture transformed human evolution_. University of Chicago Press; Chicago.

    Also, remember that Scicily supported a herding economy – think about the connection to modern day Mafia…

  22. wicked

    Hmmmm, interesting, iggy. And we had areas of herding economy here in the U.S. back in the 1800’s. Remember the range wars? Then the tiller economy group got in on it too.

  23. wicked

    Oops, I meant ’tilling’ not ’tiller’. Freudian slip?

  24. lilacluvr

    wicked – I read the book ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ . I found it interesting and something to think about.

    The main thought I got from it was that men and women are wired differently (thank God – ha,ha) and that is just the way it is.

    But what I find comforting about being wired differently than my husband is that he is good at certain things and I am good at certain things and between us, we should have the bases covered – right?

    But I do tend to wonder about the fact that some women I know seem to be wired like a man and some men are wired like a woman – so is the Men:Mars and Women:Venus theory true in all cases?

  25. lilacluvr

    Would that herding mentality also be a part of the driving force behind all this gun mentality that is currently going on in respect to the conspiracy theory of Obama coming to get their guns?

    You notice, alot of those gun-toting Republicans come from the Deep South region. Any type of change threatens them but to imagine that a black man is president, is especially intimidating. That and the fact their local preachers are railing against about the end of the world and all that entails.

  26. wicked


    I have no idea if the theory is true in all cases. Obviously it isn’t. I only read them for research purposes. 🙂

    In the “romance world”, there are basically two types of men/heroes, Alphas and Betas. Mars/Venus basically explains the origin of the Alphas and the “why” of them.

    But Mars and Venus on a Date and Mars and Venus in the Bedroom were fun reads! 🙂

  27. wicked

    I dunno, but I’m thinking those Four Horsemen of Apocalypse fame will be driving Hummers, not riding horses. Probably bullet-proof Hummers, at that.

    The best and really serious part of Bill Maher’s Religulous is the end, when he notes that although the End Times are supposedly Bible related, it’s Man who is rushing toward them. We will be who destroys the world, not any God.


  28. Makes sense tho! Wo/Man was who ruined Eden.

  29. lilacluvr

    I agree Wicked, I believe that Man is the one who will destroy the world as evidenced by something I saw in the Opinion Line today.

    Some person was talking about seeing Disney’s “Earth’ and although this person said the photograhy was great they got the subtle message of – Earth good – Man bad – and then went on to call it enviro-fascist propaganda.

    Sad to say, this logic of hating everything scientific is the propaganda of alot of Evangelical Christians.

    Am I mistaken but doesn’t the Bible tell Man he is to have dominion over the creatures and the world? So that tells me that God expects Man to take care of the world and to not ruin it.

    Where is that simple logic being taught in the Evangelical Christian circles?

    Besides, doesn’t it just make common sense that our water and air are polluted ever since we have allowed mankind to ravage the environment just to make an extra dime of profit?

  30. wicked


    I’m much more concerned with what we’re doing to our Earth than I am of the swine flu. Not that I’m helping all that much with saving the planet, which is not good.

    Funny that anyone would think a big CORP like Disney would be connected to any enviro-fascist propaganda. Walt is spinning in his grave, I’m sure. Disney has become one of the biggest marketing groups in the world. Just look at Hannah Montana and the rest of the teen idols Disney keeps pumping out. A far cry from the original Mickey Mouse Club.

    Most of us here grew up during the ‘nuclear threat’ of the 5o’s and 60’s and remember participating in drills where we hid under our desks…as if that would save us. Fear has been used for gain (hoarding food in a bomb shelter & the shelters themselves) for several decades. I guess we learned well from Herr Hitler.

  31. lilacluvr

    Yes, I remember the Mickey Mouse Club also. I also remember Annette Funicello (sp?) and the fact that Walt Disney refused to let her wear a bikini in those Beach Blanket Bingo movies – remember? She was the only one (if I am not mistaken) in a one-piece swimming suit.

    I wonder what poor Walt has done in his grave having had to watch how his beloved company has marketed sex to all these kids?

  32. lilacluvr

    But, wicked, fear does sell and that is what is driving the Republican Party at the present – isn’t it?

  33. lilacluvr

    I just read on the Huffingtonpost blog about the NC Republican Congresswoman, Virginia Foxx, when she said the Matthew Shephard murder was just a ‘hoax’ yesterday while she was on the floor debating this legislation. She was trying to say Matthew Shephard was murdered during a robbery and not because he was gay.

    She has since issued a statement in which she said she used a poor choice of words when she said ‘hoax’.

    I remember reading about the Shephard case and it certainly sounds more than just a robbery case. What happened to this young man was mean to be intentionally cruel and as a message to others.

    I find what she said abhorrent but you know what, just let these Republicans keep talking and showing their ignorance and void of common decency.

    I’m waiting for these phony Republicans to give themselves enough rope to hang themselves – and they eventually will. One by one, they are marching off the cliff to oblivion.

  34. lilacluvr

    Wasn’t it prairiepond that always said…and Jesus wept…. on the other blog?

    Why do Republicans feel the need to treat others cruelly to simply make themselves feel superior?

  35. wicked

    As far as I’m concerned, the only robbery that mattered was the robbery of Matthew’s life. Shame on Foxx.

    Lilac, over the past 8 years, I’ve said the same about that rope for the Republicans. Several times I’ve thought it was finally long enough. I was wrong every time. They’re as slippery as greased pigs–and smell like them too–and always manage to slip the noose. Maybe someday the noose will tighten before they can slip out of it.

  36. Did you also read that her (Republican Congresswoman, Virginia Foxx) comments were made in front of Matthew Shephard’s Mother?

    And, of course, today she is backpedaling. Too many recognized her words as the hate they truly were. Wonder what words could be used to explain taking a position against preventing hate crimes?

  37. wicked

    Why do Republicans feel the need to treat others cruelly to simply make themselves feel superior?

    Because they know they aren’t superior and have to beat others down to make themselves look better. IOW, inferiority complexes. The rest are just sociopaths.

  38. I’ll say this for the Republicans — it took them not too long to lose their majority status. Remember the Democratic Party enjoyed that for around 60 years before Newty brought the 1994 Contract With America that sounded great enough to get them into a power position. Didn’t take them long to prove pretty sounding words aren’t anything more than pretty sounding words.

    Now, they don’t even have pretty sounding words. They have hate and NO.

  39. iggydonnelly

    This link provides more information about the Foxx statement and the alternate theories about Shepard’s murder. I have heard that the murder was due to Meth and not hate, before. This site claims to debunk those theories:

    Remember George W. Bush being against hate crime legislation when he was campaigning in 2000? What is there about conservative ideology that is opposed to hate crimes? Even speculation would be better than what I know…

  40. iggydonnelly

    This was the story I remember hearing on the Shepard murder – that Shepard was a meth addict and the murder resulted from a drug deal gone bad.

    They also mention in here the fear that right wing nuts have – which is if the legislation is allowed and if you speak out against a “gay lifestyle” you might be guilty of hate crimes. It is a plan to silence the opposition to gays so that they can then proceed with their “radical agenda”.

    In the link in the above post the deniers make the case that the killers murdered Shephard because they were high on meth, not because of hate. A new spin on the old lie. I guess the theory goes that if you make up enough lies you will eventually happen on to one that will stick. I think those spinners are pretty sticky, I will give that to them…

  41. It’s still impossible to understand how anyone could be against protecting from / preventing hate crimes. I hope I never comprehend that kind of thinking.

  42. wicked

    According to wikipedia, the two guys who did it tried to get their girlfriends to give them an alibi. They fcked up and knew it.

    It also mentioned this:

    During a high school trip to Morocco he was beaten and raped causing him to withdraw and experience bouts of depression and panic attacks, according to his mother Judy Shepard. A friend of Shepard feared his depression caused him to become involved in the local drug scene during his time in college.

    So, while it may be true that the encounter between Matthew and the two was drug related, it was still a hate crime. The Laramie Project gave proof of that.

  43. wicked

    fnord, I think the fear of some is that the bill will allow people to go one step farther, as mentioned earlier. I would think that would be up to the courts, wouldn’t it?

    There was a man here in Wichita who was beaten several years ago because he was gay. He was helping out two guys whose car had gotten stuck in the snow at Herman Hill park. I can’t remember his name, but he’s in a wheelchair now, permanently.

  44. wicked

    (from a 1994 report)
    – Two men who admitted stalking “faggots” shot a gay man and robbed him of
    his wallet when he stopped to help them with their car in Wichita, Kansas on
    January 12. The shooting left the man a quadriplegic.

  45. wicked


    Just playing devil’s advocate here, but why should the penalty be determined by whether it’s a hate crime or not?

  46. Wow! And he stopped to help them. Are they in prison for a few lifetimes?

  47. wicked

    Let me explain that, and then I’ll go away for a while. 🙂

    I wasn’t completely in favor of Chelsea’s Law. If penalties are set as they should be, and the trial is done correctly, why must we place more laws on top of laws that are already on the books?

    Another look at that from a different view: If we can’t enforce the laws we have, why add more?

    And all that opens up a new can of worms.

  48. wicked

    fnord, I couldn’t find an article on the wichita thing. Googled it to death, but came up with only that little blip. I remember reading about it some time after it happened. Online maybe? But all I can remember is that he has a shop/store/something or did have in one of the malls. Nothing on the two guys, but I think they nailed them pretty good.

  49. When you come down to it there probably needs to be mental imbalance to commit a crime that maims or kills another person, but like in that 1994 crime against the good Samaritan — would he have been hurt without the hate that festered in those two men? Would they have hurt another who stopped to help them?

  50. wicked

    Good point, fnord. Mental instability plays into alot of crimes. [Did you see Criminal Minds last night?] So do drugs. In the Wichita case, the two men “admitted stalking ‘faggots'” is pretty damning.

    Anyone know the history of Hate Crime Laws? I’m clueless.

  51. I don’t disagree with what you said, wicked. And since I know you and what you believe I also understand the motives behind your thoughts.

    If a person is sick enough to harbor hate against individuals because they are female, or short, brown, Christian, gay — any ‘slot,’ that makes them a worse monster to me. I can almost understand how someone who knows a person and abhors everything about that person could go over some edge of reason and hurt the object of their disdain. But that’s one individual who the hater knows.

    We know that any category people may fit in will include a wide and diverse range of people. All blonds are not alike, neither are all gays. They are each individuals who share a hair color or a sexual persuasion.

    How can you hate a person without even knowing them?

  52. I guess what I’m trying to ask is how can you hate a person because they are blond, gay, Christian, female…? Don’t you have to know something hateful about them? Doesn’t it take a bunch of emotional involvement to work up strong emotions?

    • lilacluvr

      Sometimes I have to wonder if it isn’t something deep-seated in the person doing the hating.

      Like in the case of hating homosexuals; perhaps it is because the hater is actually homosexual or bisexual and is so full of guilt and self-loathing (no doubt due to his upbringing and some preacher) and is afraid to admit it?

      But whatever the source of the hate, the people that hate always seem to be bullies with a coward’s backbone and a very black-hole heart.


  53. wicked

    fnord, sweetie, hate is a learned behavior. Much of it is based on fear, taught by parents, friends, whatever. Sometimes it comes from an incident, but most is taught and passed down through generations, the way racism is.

  54. wicked

    My friend in TX grew up with a very racist dad. The “N” word was thrown around casually in their house, until one day when she and her older sister told him they’d had enough and never wanted to hear any of it again. Shocked, he shut up.

  55. lilacluvr

    If these Radical Right Wingers are using the argument that if this legislation passes then their speaking out against the gay lifestyle would be a crime, then I would have to ask – where is the crime if it is only speaking about the gay lifestyle?

    Where is the crime against any specific gay person?

    Anybody speaking about lifestyles would be protected by free speech – wouldn’t it? Much like Fred Phelps and his band of merry wingnuts?

    It is only when someone is actually doing harm to the gay person is when a crime would be committed – wouldn’t it?

  56. lilacluvr

    I just heard on the Ed Schultz show that Matthew Shephard’s mother will be on the Rachel Maddow show tonight.

    I can only imagine how she must have felt hearing Virginia Foxx say her son’s murder was a hoax.

    What a cruel and horrible thing to say – but that is what we have come to expect from the self-righteous Republicans who profess to be the God Party.

  57. I know for a fact that a person can be charged with a crime because they threatened violence against another person.

  58. lilacluvr

    I guess that is the fine line, then. But if a preacher is just giving a sermon against the gay lifestyle – is that considered threatening violence?

    And I think that is what the Radical Right Wingers are trying to go for here – the fear that the big, bad federal government is coming after their preachers and their churches.

    Nothing like fear to fill up those collections plates – right?

  59. I see what you’re saying.

    No, I guess the collection plates won’t be empty. Lots of ways to keep the masses worked up.

    When a group of haters get together, start talking and riling up the group — which could start while they were in church — I think the chances of violence are increased. Then they get to do their hating in the name of God, and that must make them feel so good and righteous.

  60. lilacluvr

    It also makes it that more dangerous, in my opinion. Holy wars are never won.

  61. So we talked around the edges of this subject all day long and I missed what was posted on a blog that belongs to one of our new friends! It should be read. Please.

  62. Bad Biker

    Hate crimes: In my (simple) mind, these are the most disgusting of all (except child abuse or murder) crimes. To injure or kill someone just because they are (whatever) is beyond belief.

    Matt Shepard was killed because he was gay – no question – there is no reasonable debate.

    The opposition to hate crime bills would be laughable if it were not so sad. I cannot express my outrage to the comments from Foxx. She should be escorted in cuffs to Gitmo for some serious waterboarding.

    Christ, I almost became violently ill listening to her comments on the floor of the House.

    Damn – I can hardly type – this is truly vomit-inducing.

    Fuck it – I am straight and I feel this way – I can’t imagine how gay folks feel.


  63. lilacluvr

    Did you get a good look at Virginia Foxx? She looks like a church pew sitter whose personal mission is to tattle on you to God when she thinks you sinned.

    She gives the Church Lady a run for her money!