Markey to House: Shepard, Zapata ‘two victims of hate crimes in my district’

An impassioned U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey invoked the brutal murders of gay college student Matthew Shepard and transgender Greeley woman Angie Zapata in her remarks Wednesday afternoon supporting federal hate-crimes legislation on the floor of the House of Representatives.

“Matthew Shepard and Angie Zapata were two victims of hate crimes in my district,” the Fort Collins Democrat said during debate on the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also called the Matthew Shepard Act. “I have a duty to their memory that I take seriously.”

The bill, which adds gender, sexual orientation and gender identity to federal hate-crime law, passed the House on a 249-175 vote and heads to the Senate. President Barack Obama has said he supports the legislation, which has been introduced in Congress regularly since Shepard’s murder in 1999.

Markey pointed out that Shepard died in Fort Collins and Zapata, whose killer was convicted on state hate-crime charges last week, was beaten to death in Greeley. The two cities are the population centers of the sprawling 4th Congressional District, which also covers most of eastern Colorado.

Here’s Markey’s speech:

And here’s what Markey said:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Matthew Shepard died in a hospital less than five minutes from my home in Fort Collins, Colorado.

The depth of hate that drives such an act of violence leaves all those it touches bereft in the knowledge that such ugliness can exist on this Earth.

Angie Zapata was an 18-year-old transgender woman brutally murdered in Greeley, Colorado, this past July. It took a jury just two hours to convict Angie’s killer under Colorado’s first application of hate-crimes statute earlier this month.

This bill does not punish speech, thoughts, words or beliefs. It does not even punish hate speech. It punishes actions. It provides state and local authorities with federal assistance in investigating and prosecuting hate crimes

In this country, 45 states already have hate crimes legislation on the books — many of these statutes are more robust than the current federal law.

Matthew Shepard and Angie Zapata were two victims of hate crimes in my district. I have a duty to their memory that I take seriously.

Thank you very much.

Markey spoke after a North Carolina Republican, U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, called the notion that Shepard was killed because he was gay “a hoax.”

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Ernest Luning

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