Friday, October 09, 2009

This One's For You Matthew Shepard

Matthew Shepard was a student at the University of Wyoming who was murdered near Laramie, Wyoming in 1998. His murder understandably shocked the nation and spurred activism against anti-gay violence.

Finally, 11 years later, the Matthew Shepard Act, or the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, passed in the US House of Representatives yesterday! It is widely believed that it will easily pass the Senate and be on its way to the President’s desk soon. If signed by President Barack Obama, the act will expand the original 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

Some conservatives who opposed the act originally did so fearing that this act would muzzle free speech regarding homosexuality. They were afraid that making comments stating that homosexuality is immoral would be construed as inciting violence against them.

Just for these conservatives (who are all of a sudden defenders of free speech – hell must have frozen over) the act as passed contains the following provision, “Nothing in this Act…shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment to the Constitution.”

“A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

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