By Paul R. Tetreault Director, Ford’s Theatre
Today is a landmark day for people everywhere who are standing up to hate. The United States Senate has passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the first major piece of legislation providing federal protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. President Obama has pledged to sign the bill into law. On this historic night, Not In Our Town will meet Judy Shepard, when she visits Danville, CA to read from her new book, The Meaning of Matthew. The event is a benefit for Not In Our Town, sponsored by Rakestraw Books, and we will be bringing our thanks and congratulations to Judy Shepard tonight. If you would like to send a message of thanks to Judy, please share it in the comments below!
It was ten years ago this week that gay college student Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten and left hanging on a rural fence in Laramie, Wyoming. His murder stirred a profound response that would galvanize communities and states across the U.S. to fight for hate crime laws that include protection for gays and lesbians. In an interview with CBS News, Judy Shepard, Matthew Shepard’s mother talks about the young men who were convicted of killing her son and her ongoing work against anti-gay bias: “I’m pretty sure that they actually wonder still why they’re in such trouble for what they did, just, you know, killing a young gay man. The environment was set up for them that it was OK to do that to Matt.” “The level of ignorance is just — it’s amazing that people just don’t know more about the civil rights that are being denied the gay community, and we’re moving forward and working at the grassroots level now trying to really educate people and make them aware of the gay community.”