never forget

Joe Biden had this to say on the 25th anniversary of the murder of Matthew Shepard

Joe Biden and Matthew Shepard
Joe Biden and (inset) Matthew Shepard (Photo: Shutterstock/Commons)

Yesterday marked 25 years since the death of Matthew Shepard. The brutal, homophobic murder of the 21-year-old’s gay student in Wyoming, shocked the US and beyond.

The White House issued a statement from President Joe Biden to mark the anniversary.

“Twenty-five years ago today, Matthew Shepard lost his life to a brutal act of hate and violence that shocked our nation and the world. The week prior, Matthew had been viciously attacked in a horrific anti-gay hate crime and left to die – simply for being himself.

“Matthew’s tragic and senseless murder shook the conscience of the American people. And his courageous parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, turned Matthew’s memory into a movement, galvanizing millions of people to combat the scourge of anti-LGBTQI+ hate and violence in America.

“Threats and violence targeting the LGBTQI+ community continue to rise”

“As Vice President, I had the honor of helping to enact the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which extended federal hate crimes laws to cover sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability,” Biden continued. “This legislation is a lasting tribute to Matthew, a testament to the relentless advocacy of Judy and Dennis, and an important step forward for our country.

“I was proud to honor Judy and Dennis as Uniters – Americans who stand against hate and heal our divides – at the United We Stand Summit here at the White House last year. Our charge is to continue the fight against hate, against violence, and against bigotry in all its forms.

“Today, as threats and violence targeting the LGBTQI+ community continue to rise, our work is far from finished. No American should face hate or violence for who they are or who they love. I once again call on Congress to send the Equality Act to my desk so that we can ensure LGBTQI+ Americans have full civil rights protections under our laws – because every American is worthy of dignity, acceptance, and respect.

“God bless Judy, Dennis, and all those who are grieving and remembering Matthew today.”

The murder of Matthew Shepard

Shepard was a student at the University of Wyoming. On the night of October 6, 1998, he was approached by two other young men, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, at the Fireside Lounge in Laramie. They offered to give him a ride home. Instead, they took him to a remote area where they pistol-whipped and tortured him. He was tied to a fence and left to die.

Eighteen hours later, a cyclist came upon Shepard tied to the fence. At first, he thought he was a scarecrow. Shepard was still alive but in a coma. He was rushed to hospital but succumbed to his injuries five days later and died on October 12th.

Police quickly arrested McKinney and Henderson. They men received life sentences for Shepard’s murder.

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