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No US Hate Crime Law, Decade After Matthew Shepard's Death

No US Hate Crime Law, Decade After Matthew Shepard's Death

Ten years ago today, 21-year-old Matthew Shepard, a gay man, was beaten, tied to a fence, and left to die. Since then 31 states and Washington DC have passed increased punishments for crimes motivated by the victim's sexual orientation. Yet, there is still no federal hate crime law, and FBI stats show that the rate of anti-gay based crimes has remained the same.


The Matthew Shepard Act, which has never made it into law, would have given the federal government more authority to investigate and prosecute hate crimes, and would have expanded victims specifically protected by federal law to include those who are attacked because of disability, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Should it be a federal offense to commit a crime against persons because of their sexuality, or is too hard to legally define a victim class based on how a criminal defines their sexuality?

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