President Joe Biden has issued a statement in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the tragic death of Matthew Shepard. Shepard, a gay man and a student at the University of Wyoming, was subjected to a brutal assault and left to perish in 1998. The Hate Crimes Prevention Act, named after Shepard, was enacted during the Obama-Biden administration to extend hate crime protections to individuals based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability.
Twenty-five years ago today, Matthew Shepard lost his life to a brutal act of anti-gay hate and violence simply for being himself.
His murder shook the conscience of the American people. And his courageous parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, turned Matthew’s memory into a…
— President Biden (@POTUS) October 12, 2023
While the belief is widespread that Shepard was targeted due to his sexual orientation, Biden reaffirmed this belief, asserting that he was killed "simply for being himself." The two individuals responsible for Shepard's murder are currently serving two consecutive life sentences.
In his statement, Biden acknowledged the profound impact of Shepard's tragic demise and applauded his parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, for transforming their son's memory into a movement advocating against LGBTQI+ hate and violence. He stressed the importance of sustaining efforts to combat hate, violence, and prejudice in all their manifestations, as threats and violence against the LGBTQI+ community continue to exist.
Furthermore, Biden urged Congress to pass the Equality Act, which aims to broaden protections for gay and transgender individuals. This legislation aligns with the executive order Biden signed on his first day in office and strives to ensure that no American faces hatred or violence based on who they are or whom they love.
In summary, Biden's statement commemorating the anniversary of Matthew Shepard's passing underscores his dedication to LGBTQI+ rights and his determination to advocate for legislation that safeguards and provides support to the LGBTQI+ community.