Dennis and Judy Shepard, the parents of Matthew Shepard, skipped a ceremony that was held at the Department of Justice yesterday to mark ten years since the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a law signed by President Obama that extended federal hate crime laws to cover LGBT+ people (see photo above).
Judy and Dennis angrily denounced the Trump administration’s attempt to take advantage of their son’s memory while simultaneously fighting at the Supreme Court against protections for LGBT+ employees.
They wrote in an open letter:
“We find it interesting and hypocritical that [Attorney General Barr] would invite us to this event commemorating a hate crime law named after our son and Mr Byrd, while, at the same time, asking the Supreme Court to allow the legalised firing of transgender employees.”
They continued: “Mr Barr, you cannot have it both ways
“If you believe that employers should have the right to terminate transgender employees, just because they are transgender, then you believe they are lesser than and not worthy of protection.”
“If so, you need not invite us to future events at the Department of Justice that are billed as celebrating the law that protects these same individuals from hate crimes. Either you believe in equality for all or you don’t.
“We do not honour our son by kowtowing to hypocrisy.”
The Shepards then paid tribute to employees within the Department of Justice who “truly believe in protecting all Americans from injustice”, adding:
“We understand how frustrating and thankless it is when you are fighting an uphill battle under today’s political climate and with little or no support or assistance from the administration.”
“We don’t want to see another incident or life lost as we lost Matt. Any loss of life, any loss of a job, any loss of desire to work towards fulfilling a person’s dreams and goals because of hate related words or actions is a loss to the local community where that person lives, a loss to the state where that person lives, and a loss to this country.
“We look forward to a re-focus on the causes of hate crimes and the reduction of hate crime incidents as America changes direction and moves forward towards a more equal and just country.”
Truly, these people are saints.
(via Pink News; Photo: Avalon)