On October 6, 1998, a gay University of Wyoming student, Matthew Shepard, left the Fireside Bar with Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson. The following day he was discovered at the edge of town. He was tied to a fence, brutally beaten, and close to death.
By the following day, Matthew’s attack and the town of Laramie had become the focus of an international news story. On October 12, 1998 Matthew Shepard died at Poudre Valley Hospital in Ft. Collins, Colorado.
Five weeks later, the members of Tectonic Theater Project went to Laramie and conducted interviews with the people of the town. Over the course of the next year they wrote the play The Laramie Project edited from those interviews.
The Matthew Shepard Act (USA):
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act, is an American Act of Congress, passed on October 22, 2009, and signed into law by President Barack Obama on October 28, 2009, as a rider to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010 (H.R. 2647). Conceived as a response to the murders of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., the measure expands the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability
The bill also:
removes the prerequisite that the victim be engaging in a federally-protected activity, like voting or going to school;
gives federal authorities greater ability to engage in hate crimes investigations that local authorities choose not to pursue;
provides $5 million per year in funding for fiscal years 2010 through 2012 to help state and local agencies pay for investigating and prosecuting hate crimes;
requires the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to track statistics on hate crimes against transgender people (statistics for the other groups are already tracked).
The Act is the first federal law to extend legal protections to transgender persons.