In October, at a Justice Department event in Washington marking the anniversary of a hate crimes law named for Matthew Shepard, his parents sent a message of rebuke for Attorney General William Barr. Judy and Dennis Shepard, parents of Matthew, a young Wyoming man killed in a homophobic attack in 1998, said, "Mr. Barr, you cannot have it both ways. If you believe that employers have the right to terminate transgender employees just because they are transgender, then you believe they are not worthy of protection. You need not invite us to future events at the Department of Justice…celebrating a law that protects these individuals from hate crimes."
An Administration spokesman later said the hate crimes law as written does not bar discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, but that Congress could change the law.