DOJ Pride commemorates the five-year anniversary of the signing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
The Shepard/Byrd law greatly expanded the federal government’s ability to prosecute hate crimes and marked the first time that the words “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender” appeared in the U.S. Code. After singing the Act, President Obama noted that those who fought for the law “understand that the rights afforded every citizen under our Constitution mean nothing if we do not protect those rights—both from unjust laws and violent acts.”
The Board of Directors of DOJ Pride would like to acknowledge the continued dedication of those of its members—as well as many others at the Department—who work to prevent and respond to hate crimes. Five years later, their contributions have helped make America a more affirming and peaceful place and remind LGBT Americans that the government really does care. As the President acknowledged upon signing the Act, “no one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hands of the person they love.”