The mother of Matthew Shepard, the gay Wyoming college student who was murdered in 1998, is in Utah to lobby for hate-crimes legislation that specifically protects gay men, lesbians, and other classes of victims. "I don't want this to happen again," Judy Shepard said Sunday. Shepard took part in a panel discussion Sunday on hate-crimes legislation in Utah, and she met Monday with Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff and then with various legislators. Sunday's discussion was sponsored by the Stonewall Democrats Utah Chapter and Equality Utah.
Utah adopted a law 12 years ago that provides enhanced penalties for crimes committed with hate as a motive. The law is considered unenforceable because it does not include a list of protected classes: race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, and age. Nearly every year since then, unsuccessful attempts have been made to strengthen the law.