Betty on the News: President Signs Hate Crimes Bill into Law
Eleven years after Matthew Shepard’s death, President Obama signed off on legislation that establishes violence against gays and lesbians as hate crimes.
-Margeaux Baulch Klein
On Wednesday, nearly eleven years after Matthew Shepard’s tragic death, President Obama signed legislation that elevated violent acts that specifically target gays and lesbians to hate crime status, expanding the scope of a 1968 law that applies to people attacked because of their race, religion, or national origin.
The legislation, called the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, was a project of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s and had been on the congressional agenda for over a decade. It is named after Shepard, a gay college student tortured and killed in 1998, as well as James Byrd Jr., a black man who was chained to a pickup truck and dragged to his death the same year.