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GLAAD Condemns, Urges Media to Spotlight Rep. Virginia Foxx's Claim That Hate Crime Murder of Matthew Shepard Was "A Hoax"

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Richard Ferraro
Director of Communications
(646) 871-8011
ferraro@glaad.org

April 29, 2009

April 29, 2009, New York, NY - The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation today called on the nation's media to scrutinize the statement made Tuesday by Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) on the floor of the House of Representatives claiming that the 1998 hate crime murder of Matthew Shepard was "a hoax."

The House of Representatives today debated and passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. This legislation would expand existing federal hate crimes law --which currently addresses hate crimes committed against people based on their race, color, religion and national origin -- to also protect people based on their actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. A companion bill, the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, was re-introduced today in the U.S. Senate.

While arguing against the legislation, Foxx said: "The hate crimes bill that's called the Matthew Shepard Bill [sic] is named after a very unfortunate incident that happened where a young man was killed. But we know that that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery. It wasn't because he was gay. The bill was named for him, the hate crimes bill was named for him, but it's, it's really a hoax, that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills."

"Congresswoman Foxx's comments are repugnant and should be condemned by all fair-minded people in the strongest possible terms," said GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano. "We urge media to expose Foxx's falsehood and her malicious disregard for the basic facts of this case."

Media Matters Action Network has published a video and transcript of Foxx's comments:
http://mediamattersaction.org/items/200904290005

In 2004, GLAAD published a Viewers' Guide that refuted inaccurate and revisionist claims made in a 20/20 report on Matthew's murder. You can read the previous media release and the full report at http://www.glaad.org/matthewshepard2020.