After steep opposition from the Republicans in the House of Representatives, the Matthew Shepard Act was passed. The bill will now make its way to the Senate, who will come up with its own version. I have no doubt that it will pass here as well, but I am sure with a great deal of opposition from the GOP.
The “Matthew Shepard Act.” The bill, which was introduced in 2007, was named after Matthew Wayne Shepard who died on October 12, 1998. He was twenty-one at the time of death. His killers are currently serving life behind bars. During the trial, witnesses said that Shepard was attacked because of his sexual preferences, which was a travesty and a hate crime.
The real drama came from GOP Representative Virginia Foxx of North Carolina who referred to Matthew Shepard’s hate-motivated murder as “a hoax.” Voters in her district need to note her incendiary comments about the bill and vote accordingly when she comes up for re-election. She owes the family and all other victims of hate-crimes an apology. This is a disgrace and she should be called out on it.
According to Reuters, , the vote passed through the US House by 249-175. That means one-hundred and seventy-five House Representatives had given their opposition to the bill, of which the Republicans had a large number of detractors. Opponents of the bill have said that it is discriminatory. In this piece, GOP Representative Trent Franks of Arizona said the bill puts equal protection in danger. He added that it destroys equality of protection amongst all groups. Really Trent Franks? So, I guess my question to him is what really constitute a hate crime?
Franks gave the argument that this bill if signed into law would undermine equal protection. He made the argument that handing out justice to perpetrators of a crime will end up depending on gender, ethnicity, sexual preferences, and so forth. So, I am guessing that the whole notion of a hate crime is moot to him and we should just sit by and watch people get hurt or even killed and just shrug our shoulders. Contrary to the flawed argument from the Republicans, this bill will strength civil rights protections.