Matthew Shepard (1976-1998) was an American college student from Wyoming. On October 7th, 1998, he was savagely beaten and robbed by two men, and died on October 12th. The killers were heavily involved in drugs and had met Shepard in a bar, giving him a ride afterwards.
- McKinney's girlfriend, Kristen Price, said, "I knew that night it was all about getting money... Money to get drugs." McKinney himself, talking for the first time (he did not testify at his trial), told ABC's Elizabeth Vargas that "it wasn't a hate crime... [A]ll I wanted to do was beat him up and rob him." In fact, McKinney said, "I have gay friends. ... You know, that kind of thing don't bother me so much."
Activists claimed even before the details of the crime were known that the murder was due to anti-gay bias. Once the crime was discovered, Shepard's friends "were calling the County Attorney's office, they were calling the media and indicating Matthew Shepard is gay and we don't want the fact that he is gay to go unnoticed."
A misguided defense of one of the killers tried to make an issue of Shepard's homosexuality in order to employ a "gay panic defense" based upon the defendant's alleged prior homosexual experiences, but this was rejected by the judge. In fact, at least one of Shepard's killers claimed in an interview on ABC's "20/20" that money and drugs motivated their actions that night, not hatred of gays. One of the girlfriends of the accused testified that they had planned to pretend to be homosexuals so that they could rob Shepard.
Ever since Shepard's death it has been cited by homosexual activists to promote legislation to classify attacks motivated by the sexual orientation of the victim as hate crime that would be punished more severely than were it performed for other reasons. All legislation, both in Wyoming and on the national level, had previously failed, but Congress passed a hate crime bill which was signed into law in October, 2009. It is the "Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act."
- Matthew Shepard Murder The Daily Camera.
- Ben Fritzen, a former police detective, said, "Matthew Shepard's sexual preference or sexual orientation certainly wasn't the motive in the homicide... What it came down to, really, is drugs and money." Washington Times Editorial 8/10/2007
- Reject the 'hate crimes' bill
- 20/20 News Story on Matthew Shepard