President’s Call for Equality Act Amidst Rising Anti-LGBTQI+ Threats
On Wednesday, October 12, President Joe Biden made a speech that recognized the 25th anniversary of the murder of Matthew Shepard on October 12, 1998, and acknowledged that hate crimes against LGBTQ+ have risen in the United States, with several crimes against LGBTQ+ people that have shocked the nation as well as a large amount of anti-LGTBQ+ demonstrations taking place averaging 39 such protests per month starting in June of this year.
Biden called for Congress to pass the Equality Act during the speech to secure civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ residents of the United States.
The following is the entirety of Biden’s remarks:
Twenty-five years ago, Matthew Shepard tragically lost his life in a heinous act of hate and violence that deeply impacted our nation and the world. Matthew had endured a brutal anti-gay hate crime the week prior, a horrifying attack that ultimately cost him his life solely because he dared to be his authentic self.
Matthew’s untimely and senseless death shook the collective conscience of the American people. It was his parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, who displayed incredible courage by transforming their son’s memory into a potent movement. Through their unwavering efforts, they rallied countless individuals to confront the plague of anti-LGBTQI+ hate and violence in America.
During my tenure as Vice President, I had the privilege of contributing to the passing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This pivotal legislation expanded federal hate crimes laws to encompass sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability.
It stands as a lasting tribute to Matthew’s memory, a testament to Judy and Dennis’s relentless advocacy, and a significant stride for our nation. It was my distinct honor to recognize Judy and Dennis as Uniters – individuals who stand united against hate and strive to heal our divides – at the United We Stand Summit held at the White House last year.
Our duty remains clear: the battle against hate, violence, and bigotry in all its forms must persist. In an environment where threats and violence against the LGBTQI+ community are on the rise, our work is far from over. It is an unequivocal truth that no American should ever endure hate or violence based on their identity or the person they love. I reiterate my call to Congress to expedite the Equality Act’s journey to my desk. Passing this legislation is essential to ensure that LGBTQI+ Americans have comprehensive civil rights protections under our laws. Every American deserves to be treated with dignity, acceptance, and respect.
Today, our hearts go out to Judy, Dennis, and all those who are mourning and commemorating Matthew’s life and legacy.