Statement from Judy Shepard on the Legacy of the Late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy

“Today, Dennis and I and the board and staff of the Matthew Shepard Foundation send our heartfelt condolences to the family of U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, who passed away this morning after a valiant struggle with cancer.

“In the years since Matthew was taken from us, Sen. Kennedy proved himself a true friend, reaching out to us countless times, first to share in our grief, and as time passed, increasingly to partner with us in a cause that was dear to his heart — advancing America’s unfinished work to end hatred and bigotry.

“Gay and lesbian Americans, their families, friends and neighbors have never had a stronger friend in the United States Senate than Sen. Kennedy, and today we are among the millions of citizens reflecting on the sheer volume of his contribution to equality. Be it protection from hate crimes, or from workplace discrimination, or from the AIDS epidemic, he was always at the forefront of every effort.

“Sen. Kennedy was the leading sponsor of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act when we started work so many years ago to enact this vital protection, and he remained a leading sponsor all throughout the many years of debate, which continue today.

“For his death to come at the very moment that the Senate is struggling to address critical health care reforms underscores the role he has always played in bringing both parties together. We share in the sorrow of everyone whose well-being was improved by Sen. Kennedy’s decades of work, and salute him for his unmatched spirit of public service.”

Judy Shepard
President, Board of Directors, Matthew Shepard Foundation