Today, President Barack Obama signed into law a bill that expands the federal hate crimes law to include crimes against a person because of his or her sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation. The bill was originally proposed by Democrats in the House of Representatives in 1998, when a gay college student in Wyoming, Matthew Shepard, was found brutally murdered by a group of young men who had seen him in a bar earlier in the evening. Their defense included the statement that Shepard had tried to "come on" to one of them.
For more than ten years, conservatives in Congress have blocked this bill and only now have there been enough votes to pass it. Conservative groups such as the Traditional Values Coalition said the legislation would turn "homosexual behaviors as well as cross-dressing, transvestism, and transsexualism into federally-protected 'minority' groups." Come on, really. You don't have to like gay people, you only have to admit that they have a right not to get murdered.
Matthew Shepard's mother Judy attended the signing ceremony. USA Today quoted her as saying that she never dreamed it would take 10 years for the new law to become a reality. Well said, Mrs. Shepard. My apologies to you for this country taking an unconscionable amount of time to pass a law that gives hate crime status to the murder of your son, who was killed because some people hated him for his homosexuality.