reverted one-sided claims that had at least one broken link; discuss on talk page first
'''Matthew Shepard''' (1976-1998) was an American college student from [[Wyoming]]. On October 7th, 1998, he was savagely beaten and robbed by two men
, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, and died on October 12th. The killers were heavily involved in drugs and had met Shepard in a bar, giving him a ride afterwards.
[[Homosexual]] activists and the liberal media converted this drug-related killing <ref>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." [http://www.washingtontimes.com/article/20070810/EDITORIAL/108100014/1013/editorial Washington Times Editorial] 8/10/2007 </ref> into a [[hate crime]] even though the prosecution never described the killing as a hate crime.<ref name="courttv">http://www.courttv.com/archive/trials/mckinney/110399_verdict_ctv.html</ref> 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."<ref name="20/20" />
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.<ref name="courttv"/> 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.<ref name="20/20">[http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=277685&page=1 20/20 News Story on Matthew Shepard]</ref> One of the girlfriends of the accused testified that they had planned to pretend to be homosexuals so that they could rob Shepard.<ref name="courttv"/>
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."