The Matthew Shepard Act (officially, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act or LLEHCPA), is named for a gay American student, Matthew Shepard, who was killed in 1998 near Laramie, Wyoming. It was revealed during trial that Shepard was targeted because he was gay. At the time, the hate crime law in Wyoming did not recognize homosexual persons as a protected class and so, the offenders in the case were not charged under hate crime laws.
On May 3, 2007, the House of Representatives passed the Matthew Shepard Act (officially, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007, or LLEHCPA), HR 1592. The Act expands the United States federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, and it drops the prerequisite that the victim be engaged in a federally-protected activity at the time of assault to come within the ambit of the Act. The Act will be put to vote in the senate in the second week of July, 2009.