Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hate Crime Laws

So, originally, I was going to give you a background on Mormonism (the religion of the two boys who murdered Matt Shepard), but I realized that it might spawn the very terrible things that this play rallies against. 
So instead, I'm going to talk about the good things that came out of this tragedy: Hate Crime Laws.

When Matthew Shepard was killed (due to his sexual orientation), his murderers couldn't be tried for hate crimes.  Mainly because Wyoming didn't have any hate crime laws, and the federal hate crime laws didn't included sexual orientation.

I wasn't really sure if we'd seen a picture of him yet. 
But I liked this one, with him smiling.

It was a rough road from there on out for what has become known as the "Matt Shepard Act."  Wyoming, inevitably, didn't pass any hate crime laws, but they were split exactly even when one was proposed.  During Bill Clinton's presidency, an amendment was proposed to extend hate crime laws to include violent acts against homosexuals, woman and persons with disabilities.  Despite Clinton being in favor of it, the bill could not get past the House of Representatives.

The "Matt Shepard Act" was officially drafted and introduced in 2007.  It passed in both the House and the Senate, but President Bush said that he would veto the act, and it lost support and steam.

It wasn't until 2009, when President Obama was in office, that the bill really took off.  Obama supported (and eventually approved) the law and both the House and the Senate approved it with large margins.  Obama signed the bill on October 28, 2009, over ten years after the death of Matt Shepard.

The law now protects people attacked for race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability, amended from the original 1969 law.  This is the first law that protects the rights of Transgenders.

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