Judy and Dennis Shepard Address the Parents of Estonia
American tolerance and diversity advocates Judy and Dennis Shepard, whose son Matthew was murdered because of his sexual orientation, are visiting Tallinn for two days to promote acceptance and dialogue in support of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) people. The 1998 murder of Mathew Shepard made national news in the U.S. and galvanized a movement to pass hate crimes laws that included protections for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) people. Judy Shepard, with the support of Dennis, became one of the most visible American advocates for acceptance of LGBT people and for hate crimes laws. In 2009, she stood by President Obama when he signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention act, which included LGBT people for the first time in nationwide hate crimes legislation. Judy Shepard has appeared in numerous U.S. television interviews, including on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and "The View". The death of Matthew Shepard is the subject of the play "The Laramie Project" and the 2002 film by the same name. It is also the subject of the 2002 movie "The Matthew Shepard Story", which will be shown for free at KUMU on September 25 with the support of the U.S. Embassy.