Politics

Matthew Shepard’s parents slammed the Trump administration at Department of Justice ceremony

Matthew Shepard’s parents slammed the Trump administration at Department of Justice ceremony
Judy and Dennis ShepardPhoto: Andy Carpenean, Laramie Daily Boomerang (AP)

Matthew Shepard’s parents called out the Trump administration for acting like they care about their son’s death while supporting discrimination against LGBTQ people.

Nearly ten years ago today, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act passed Congress. The law allowed the federal government to track hate crimes and to intervene in cases where local and state law enforcement officers aren’t able to properly investigate and prosecute hate crimes.

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The Justice Department held an event to honor the tenth anniversary of the legislation. Dennis and Judy Shepard – whose gay son Matthew was brutally murdered in 1998 – didn’t attend, but they sent a statement calling out Attorney General William Barr and Donald Trump for their opposition to LGBTQ equality.

The Shepards called on Barr to “take a stand as a member of this administration to disavow and condemn any person who fuels the fires of hate with their words and actions.”

They also brought up the three cases currently before the Supreme Court about whether the Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ people. The Trump administration and the Justice Department have filed briefs in the cases arguing against LGBTQ protections.

“We find it interesting and hypocritical that [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 legalized firing of transgender employees,” the statement said.

“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.”

Attorney General Barr did not attend the Justice Department event either, and he sent a statement saying that hate crimes are “reprehensible.”

“Precisely because they are fueled by bias against specific people and groups, they also are a grave affront to America’s foundational principles and ideals,” his statement said.

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