Excerpted from the Charlotte Observer:
Gay rights groups pounced on U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina Wednesday after she called the case behind a hate crimes bill â€œa hoax.â€
Foxx’s comments came on the House floor during debate over the so-called Matthew Shepard bill, named for a 21-year-old gay man brutally murdered in Wyoming in 1998. Supporters say he was the victim of a hate crime.
The bill would expand a federal hate crimes law to include acts motivated by sexual orientation.
â€œThe Matthew Shepard bill is named after a very unfortunate incident that happened where a young man was killed,â€ Foxx, a Banner Elk Republican, said. â€œBut we know that that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery. It wasn’t because he was gay.
â€œ The bill was named for him â€¦ but it’s really a hoax that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills.â€
In a statement, Foxx later called her comments â€œa poor choice of words.â€ But the bill’s supporters wasted no time in criticizing her.
â€œIt is no longer acceptable in this day and age to just come right out and say you don’t like gay people,â€ said Brad Luna of the Human Rights Campaign. â€œExtremist opponents of equality must resort to these types of malicious and twisted lies. Rep. Foxx should be ashamed of herself.â€
Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia told a reporter that Foxx’s comments were â€œunreal, unbelievable.â€