“Either you believe in equality for all or you don’t. We do not honor our son by kowtowing to hypocrisy.”
Matthew Shepard’s parents’ remarks drew explosive and lengthy applause for pointedly criticizing Attorney General William Barr’s and the administration’s double-talk on LGBTQ+ rights this afternoon at the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, DC.
At a commemorative event to mark the historic 10-year anniversary of the signing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, MSF Programs and Operations Director, Cynthia Deitle read a detailed and stern letter from Judy and Dennis Shepard to a crowded Great Hall at DOJ headquarters. The Shepards were unable to deliver the remarks in person due to prior commitments.
The remarks, which you can read in its entirety, sharply criticize Barr’s statements, actions and inactions, and demand that he deploy his power to protect the freedoms of all Americans.
“Mr. Barr represents the government and he is well-suited and has the power to change hearts and minds to promote diversity, inclusion, and equity among all groups of people, and drive out the forces of hate. As the head of the Department of Justice, he can take a stand as a member of this administration to disavow and condemn any person who fuels the fires of hate with their words and actions. He must lead and demonstrate his refusal to accept hate in all its manifestations. He must demonstrate courage, even if it means disagreeing with the administration. So far, he has done none of these deeds.
We find it interesting and hypocritical that he would invite us to this event commemorating a hate crime law named after our son and Mr. Byrd, while, at the same time, asking the Supreme Court to allow the legalized firing of transgender employees.
Mr. Barr, you cannot have it both ways. If you believe that employers should have the right to terminate transgender employees, just because they are transgender, then you believe they are lesser than and not worthy of protection. If so, you need not invite us to future events at the Department of Justice that are billed as celebrating the law that protects these same individuals from hate crimes. Either you believe in equality for all or you don’t. We do not honor our son by kowtowing to hypocrisy.”
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We at the Matthew Shepard Foundation ask you, our committed supporters, to join us in applauding Judy and Dennis for their courage and grace, in speaking up for those unheard voices in the LGBTQ+ community and for standing their ground against hypocrisy and inequality. They are truly role models for all activists and allies!
But Judy and Dennis cannot do this work alone!
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Matthew Shepard Foundation Team