By Corky Siemaszko
The parents of Matthew Shepard, the gay Wyoming college student whose brutal murder led to changes in how the federal government defines hate crimes, delivered a pointed message to Attorney General William Barr: Don’t be a hypocrite and protect the rights of transgender people.
Judy and Dennis Shepard did so in a letter that was read Tuesday at a Justice Department ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of a law named after Shepard and James Byrd Jr., a black man who was dragged to his death behind a pickup truck in Texas.
Their letter took Barr and the Trump administration to task for taking the side of employers in the ongoing battle over whether they can legally discriminate against gay and transgender workers.
“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,” the Shepards stated in the letter.
“Mr. Barr, you cannot have it both ways. Either you believe in equality for all or you don’t,” Judy and Dennis Shepard told Barr. “We do not honor our son by kowtowing to hypocrisy.”