Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she has no words for Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), who earlier Wednesday called it a hoax that Matthew Shepard was murdered because of his homosexuality.
Foxx made the remarks on the House floor during the debate on a hate-crimes bill that bears Shepards name.
The hate-crimes bill thats called the Matthew Shepard bill is named after a very unfortunate incident that happened where a young man was killed, but we know that the young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery. It wasnt because he was gay, Foxx said during Wednesdays House debate of hate-crimes legislation.
Shepard, a 21-year-old gay student at the University of Wyoming who was murdered in 1998, is often linked to hate-crimes legislation since his widely publicized killing was viewed as an anti-gay attack.
But Foxx said it is a hoax to use Shepards name for todays hate-crimes bill, which includes new protections for gays and lesbians. She argued Democrats are only using it as an excuse for passing these bills.
Top Democrats appeared stunned by Foxxs remarks.
It is really beneath comment, Pelosi said.
I think its tragic that she thinks that. ... I cant even comment, Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee (Calif.) said. Matthew Shepard is dead. The world knows that this was not a hoax. All I can say is that its really tragic. Its very sad and tragic.
The House approved the hate-crimes measure, 249-175. Seventeen Democrats opposed it, while 18 Republicans voted for it.
Pelosi was reviewing the vote tally outside the House chamber shortly after the vote.