Friday, October 10, 2008

The Impact of Matthew Shepard

This is a guest post which originally appeared this morning as part of a special blog series from the National Youth Advocacy Coalition, regarding the 10-year anniversary of Matthew Shepard's death. I'm grateful to have been asked to participate in NYAC's series, along with other leaders from the LGBT community. - Jody Huckaby

At PFLAG, we understand that whenever one member of our family is attacked, maligned or worse, all of us feel that hurt very deeply. The LGBT community, our families and allies are truly all one extended family. And so, when Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten and left for dead, our hearts sank. For many of the moms and dads who are the heart of PFLAG, time has done little to erase the haunting memory of Matthew's death.

Ten years later, too little has been done to ensure that no other loved one suffers the same fate, or to curb the attacks against our families.

Matthew's mother, Judy, has been an extraordinary advocate and has worked tirelessly to push Congress and the White House to address hate crimes against the LGBT community. Unfortunately, too few people have heeded her calls thus far, and the legislation that rightfully bears Matthew's name has yet to become law. That is unacceptable, and an unfitting tribute to Matthew's memory and Judy's truly heroic work.

Meanwhile, the consequences of doing nothing are continually, horribly brought to light.

In South Carolina, Sean Kennedy, a young gay man, was attacked and left for dead. In Colorado, Angie Zapata, a transgender woman, was beaten and killed. And in California, student Lawrence King was gunned down in his school by a classmate who labeled Lawrence as gay.

As mothers and fathers, LGBT people and friends, all of us at PFLAG are saying, "enough is enough." It is time to stop the attacks on our families.

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