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Rep. Virginia Foxx retracts word 'hoax' in Matthew Shepard murder

April 30, 2009 |  7:18 pm

Here's what Rep. Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican, said on the floor of the House of Representatives this week about Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming gay man brutally murdered in 1998:

Matthew Shepard who was murdered in Wyoming in 1998

"We know that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery. It wasn't because he was gay. The bill was named for him, the hate-crimes bill was named for him, but it's really a hoax that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills."

See her House floor video below, courtesy of C-SPAN.

Foxx, who's not related to the TV network, is a 65-year-old former state senator in her third term in Washington. She was speaking against an expansion of hate-crimes legislation.

Foxx now says that although she said those words, her words did not convey what she really meant to say. What she really meant to say, which she is now saying but didn't say in the first place, is:

"The term 'hoax' was a poor choice of words used in the discussion of the hate-crimes bill. Mr. Shepard's death was nothing less than a tragedy, and those responsible for his death certainly deserved the punishment they received."

The beating and killing of the 22-year-old University of Wyoming student, allegedly for his openly gay lifestyle, quickly became a national rallying point for gays and lesbians. Now, Foxx's uninformed comments have done the same again.

Two men were found guilty of the slaying, in which Shepard was beaten and left to die, strung up on a range fence outside of town. They are serving life sentences. But the court never ruled on the motive -- robbery, drugs or anti-gay hatred.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Associated Press