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Gays Gain Protection from Hate Crimes: Insight from Judy Shepard

President Obama has signed into law a measure that extends federal protections to people who are victims of violent crime because of their sex or sexual orientation.

The new law gives such victims the same federal safeguards already provided to victims of crime as a result of their race, color, religion or national origin.

For over a decade, Judy Shepard -- whose 21-year-old son Matthew was tied to a fence, tortured, and left to die in an anti-gay hate crime in 1998 -- has campaigned for the bill, partially named after Matthew.

In reaction to the news, Shepard, president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation Board said: “We are incredibly grateful to Congress and the president for taking this step forward on behalf of hate crime victims and their families, especially given the continuing attacks on people simply for living their lives openly and honestly.”

NOW’s Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa spoke to Shepard in 2007 about the importance of passing the Matthew Shepard Act.

"There's no such thing as an innocent bystander," Shepard tells Hinojosa. "We fear for ourselves when we see someone else being attacked, but where is our moral compass if we allow that to happen?"

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