What Has Biden Done? He Was an Original Co-Sponsor of The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act

• • • •
Joe Biden
John Minchillo / AP file

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act passed Congress and was signed into law by President Obama in October 2009.

The Act extended protections of the 1969 federal hate-crimes law to include crimes motivated by the victim’s perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. It also removed the requirement that the victim be participating in a federally protected activity, like voting or going to school, when attacked.

Before this extension, victims of racial violence were a protected class, but only if engaging in such specific activities.

Joe Biden was one of the original co-sponsors of the bill, which was named after 49-year-old James Byrd Jr. and 21-year-old Matthew Shepard, both of whom were murdered in 1998. Byrd was black and Shepard was gay, and their deaths were both shockingly brutal.

The gay panic defense was employed during the trial of the men who tortured Shepard and left him to die. The defense claimed a sort of temporary insanity resulting from unwanted sexual advances.

Upon becoming vice president, Biden continued to work with Congress to push for the passage of the bill. Both President Obama and Shepard’s parents credit him with being instrumental in the law’s ultimate implementation.

Matthew’s parents Judy and Dennis Shepard, in fact, represented the Wyoming delegation during the roll call vote at the 2020 Democratic convention. In their statement, they said:

“After our son’s death in Wyoming, Joe Biden helped pass the legislation to protect LGBTQ Americans from hate crimes. He understands more than most our grief over his death. We see in Joe so much of what made Matt’s life special. Commitment to equality. Passion for social justice. And compassion for others.”

Joe Biden has quietly accomplished so much for those who face discrimination and hate and need protection the most. He has done so without boasting or symbolic gestures, simply because it is the right thing to do.


The above photo was taken in 2018, when the Biden Foundation launched its “As You Are,” campaign to “raise awareness of the importance of family acceptance in the lives of LGBTQ young people.”

In a statement provided to NBC News former Vice President Joe Biden said, “We’ll use our resources to highlight the harms of family rejection — and lift up research, best practices and personal stories to powerfully show the significant value of family acceptance.”

Fact Quotes

It would take a decade-long push by civil rights advocates and the victims’ families to close that gap with the Shepard-Byrd act. The law removed the racial violence  loophole and was expanded to include victims targeted because of their gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. In passing Shepard-Byrd, Congress found that the federal law at the time was insufficient to address the impacts of hate crimes, which “devastates not just the actual victim and the family and friends of the victim, but frequently savages the community sharing the traits that caused the victim to be selected.”

ABC News

Judy and Dennis Shepard represented the Wyoming delegation for the roll call vote. They are the parents of Matthew Shepard, a university student who was beaten death for being gay in 1998.




Tired of Fighting to Vote? Democrats Want to Make Voting Easier.

700 People Dead. 30,000 Sick. Trump rallies have taken lives.

We Decide Who Wins Elections, Not the Courts

The Reality Behind Donald Trump’s Claims that His Policies Help Black Americans

Trump’s Actions This Week Perfectly Encapsulate How He Fails America

Donald Trump Has Never Been a President for All Americans, and He Is Incapable of Starting Now

Ivanka’s Trademarks Get Granted. Sanctions on Chinese Company Get Lifted.

The Simplicity of Donald Trump’s Thinking Vastly Underestimates America

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Helped Prevent 1.7 Million Abortions

In the Final Stretch Before Election Day the Chaos Will be Extreme. Do not Be Discouraged. Do not Be Distracted.

What Has Joe Biden Done? Co-Sponsored the PROTECT Our Children Act of 2008

What Has Biden Done? As Vice President, Biden Oversaw the Implementation of the Recovery Act

Donald Trump’s Trade “Deal” with China: Another Broken Promise

Donald Trump Has Lied About Passing Veterans Choice Over 150 Times

Joe Biden’s Proposed Investment in Biofuels Will Help Farmers to Profit and Fight Climate Change

What Has Biden Done? He Was an Original Co-Sponsor of The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act

Trump’s Promise Broken: From “Bill of Love” to Deporting Dreamers

How does a coward cross the road? Ask Donald Trump.

The Economy Does Better Under Democrats

Floridians Can’t Trust Trump on Offshore Drilling

Dear President Trump: The Stock Market Is Not the Economy

Donald Trump’s Economy Not The “Best Ever” Even Before the Pandemic

The Breathtaking, Not-At-All-Veiled Racism Behind Donald Trump’s Claim He’s Saved the Suburbs

Joe Biden Will Invest $10 Billion in Minority-Serving Incubators That Connect Students to Jobs in Fields Where They Are Underrepresented

The Trump Organization Received Funds From a $500 Million Loan Given By a State-Owned Chinese Construction Company

We can't win without your support.

We're running digital campaigns in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Florida through November 3rd to make sure voters have the facts. Share the facts and donate today.