During debate Wednesday on a hate crimes bill on the floor of the U.S. House, Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said the hate crime committed against Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard was a hoax.

The comment came in the same period of debate when Foxx also misquoted and misrepresented a commentary written by liberal Glenn Greenwald.

“The bill was named after a very unfortunate incident that happened, where a young man was killed, but we know that that young man was killed in the commitment of robbery. It wasn’t because he was gay,” the congresswoman said. “The bill was named for him, the hate crimes bill was named for him, but it’s, it’s really a hoax, that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills.”

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy organization, condemned Foxx’s remarks.

“Vile lies, like the one spread by Rep. Foxx today on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives about Matthew’s brutal hate-fueled murder, continues to underscore how extreme anti-LGBT opponents have become,” said Brad Luna, Communications Director for the Human Rights Campaign. “It is no longer acceptable in this day and age to just come right out and say you don’t like gay people. Instead, extremist opponents of equality must resort to these types of malicious and twisted lies. Rep. Foxx should be ashamed of herself.”

In a statement from the Matthew Shepard Foundation, Judy Shepard said, “We are going focus on the successes that we have had in the present and look forward to the possibilities of the future, rather than spend time on the misconceptions that Rep. Virginia Foxx may have.”

The bill passed the House 249-175.

Unfortunately for Foxx, the facts of Shepard’s murder have clearly indicated he was the victim of an anti-gay hate crime.

In an Oct. 12, 1998 article, The New York Times wrote, “According to the local police and prosecutors, the two men lured Mr. Shepard out of a bar by saying they were gay. Then, the Laramie police say, the pair kidnapped Mr. Shepard, pistol-whipped him with a .357 Magnum, and left him tied to a ranch fence for 18 hours until a passing bicyclist spotted Mr. Shepard, who was unconscious.”

During the trial, the defendants also attempted to use a “gay panic” defense. Police involved in the investigation of the Shepard murder have insisted it was at least partly motivated by anti-gay bias.

In a November 1999 article, Slate magazine wrote, “According to detectives who interviewed both of the convicted murderers, there is no evidence that Shepard made any sexual advances to the pair — and the detectives dismissed the idea that the murder was the mere result of a robbery gone bad. ‘Far from that!’ scoffed Sgt. Rob DeBree, the chief investigator in the case. ‘They knew damn well he was gay … It started out as a robbery and burglary, and I sincerely believe the other activity was because he was gay.'”

Kristen Price, a girlfriend of the one of the killers, also told 20/20 in 1998, “They just wanted to beat him bad enough to teach him a lesson, not to come on to straight people, and don’t be aggressive about it anymore.”

A press spokesperson at Virginia Foxx’s Washington, D.C., office was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday. In a statement made to several news outlets, Foxx said her comments were a “poor choice of words.” Foxx represents a large portion of the North Carolina’s Piedmont-Triad and much of the northwestern part of the state, including Winston-Salem, Mount Airy, Boone and other cities.

— Media Matters for America Action Network contributed to this report.

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Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

13 replies on “N.C. congresswoman calls Matthew Shepard hate crime a hoax”

  1. What excuse did the af&am need when they bombed a house in 1957? There were no ‘queers’ living there. Just a future hypocrite. Now she serves them in Congress….

  2. Wow this stupid cow should find a new job! She’s a moron who should beg forgiveness from the mother of the man who was murdered.
    DISGUSTING that someone this stupid is a member of congress.

  3. I tried to leave a message with Representative Foxx but her web site will not accept responses from outside her district. How can we express our outrage and educate this ignorant bumpkin?

  4. I’m one of her unfortunate constituents, I refuse to call this woman my representative. Trust me, she’s not going to respond to me either. If you want to try to contact her, your best bet is to write a letter and put no return address on the envelope.

    Her Boone office is:
    240 Hwy 105 Ext, Suite 200
    Boone, NC 28607

    You can also try calling her (828)265-0240 or faxing her: (828)265-0390

  5. What an ignoramus! What an embarrassment for the whole state of NC. Let’s hope that the Democrats identify a strong candidate in this district for next year’s election and that the HRC provides funding to retire this sad, misdirected person.

  6. SHAME SHAME SHAME on you, Virginia!!!! If that had been YOUR son, brutally murdered BY PEOPLE WHO TESTIFIED UNDER OATH that they targeted him because he was gay, and his girlfriend TESTIFIED that they “wanted to teach him a lesson” then YOU would be shouting that “this was hate” from the rooftops and YOU KNOW IT!! SHAME ON YOU, VIRGINIA. I am embarrassed that you are a US Representative of American citizens. GO HOME TO YOUR CHILDREN AND AS A MOTHER AND AN AMERICAN, RETHINK EXACTLY WHERE YOU THINK YOU’RE COMING FROM ON THIS. What you said to Judy Sheppard’s face is REPREHENSIBLE!!!!

  7. A young mans life was lost because of two brutal biggots it dosent matter why they killed him it matters that a precious life was snuffed out at the whims of two damnedable fools who’s behavior is inexusiable as to any who would call this tragedy leading to this bill a hoax has no more soul then the murderers themself and is just as despicable and should beg forgiveness of the gentle soul wich she now condemns as far as I am concerned mattew shepards blood is just as much on the hands of those who defend such ignorance and hatred as those who took his life Hate begots hate killing begots killing this is just allowing and encorageing the cycly of death and pain to perpetuate

  8. Remember this in 2010 when she is up for reelection and send your financial support to the opponent. It’s going to take a million bucks to kick this ignorant woman out of office. NC 5 is a very conservative and ignorant part of the state which unfortunately I live in.

  9. Someone called her Aunt Bee!! What an insult to Aunt Bee…Francis Bavier…RIP!

  10. I too am infuriated to the point of madness over Ms. Foxx’ comments. But please, if you are going to contact her office please take this into consideration.

    Omitting obscenities, vulgarisms, personal attacks, etc. will give your words more strength, not to mention credibility.

    Also it’s hard to take the need for protection from hate crimes seriously when comments supporting the need for this protection are as hate filled and venomous as the crimes themselves.

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