News & Election Videos

October 06, 2008

Smith Invokes Matthew Shepard

A decade to the day after Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student, was beaten in an act that shed new light on hate crimes against homosexuals, Shepard appears in a campaign ad. What is notable is that the ad is being run by a Republican in a state that voted to ban same-sex marriage.

Oregon Senator Gordon Smith, who with Ted Kennedy has pushed a bill that would require harsh sentences for perpetrators of hate crimes, launched the new ad remembering Shepard, who died six days after he was attacked.

"Matthew Shepard, 21, brutally murdered because he was gay," the narrator says in the ad, as "Amazing Grace" plays in the background. "Ted Kennedy, Gordon Smith. Two senators, one Democrat, one Republican, fighting together for the Matthew Shepard Bill. Tough sentences for those who commit crimes of hate, in honor of one young man, in honor of one strong belief."

Smith has done everything possible to associate himself with Democrats in his advertisements. This summer, Smith ran ads about his work with Barack Obama and John Kerry (Josh, being his usually prescient self, speculated back in July: "At this pace, Ted Kennedy will be offering a testimonial on Smith's behalf.")

The two senators have been honored by the Matthew Shepard Foundation for their work, but the measure Smith and Kennedy have pushed in each of the past four Congresses has failed to move through the Senate each year. And while Oregon is generally a liberal state, it is surprising that Smith would run the ad, given that a same-sex marriage ban passed in the state in 2004 by a 57%-43% margin.