And there is a reason I believe that the spirit of Matthew Shepard is very much alive in a lot of us, including Obama.
A week ago, Obama addressed the Gay Rights Group at the Human Rights Campaign dinner. In his speech, he very clearly said that: "None of us want to be defined by just one part of what makes us whole"
It was a moving speech that reassured Americans, especially the LGBTs, that he'll do everything he can to ensure an equal rights for every Americans.
"You will see a time in which we as a nation finally recognize relationships between two men or two women as just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and a woman."
"Tonight, somewhere in America, a young person, let's say a young man, will struggle to fall to sleep, wrestling alone with a secret he's held as long as he can remember. Soon, perhaps, he will decide it's time to let that secret out. What happens next depends on him, his family, as well as his friends and his teachers and his community. But it also depends on us -- on the kind of society we engender, the kind of future we build.
I believe the future is bright for that young person. For while there will be setbacks and bumps along the road, the truth is that our common ideals are a force far stronger than any division that some might sow. These ideals, when voiced by generations of citizens, are what made it possible for me to stand here today. (Applause.) These ideals are what made it possible for the people in this room to live freely and openly when for most of history that would have been inconceivable. That's the promise of America, HRC. That's the promise we're called to fulfill. (Applause.) Day by day, law by law, changing mind by mind, that is the promise we are fulfilling."
For a President to be able to relate, to understand the struggle of a young gay man in silence, in the closet means the President is not ignorant at all.
And on Wednesday, 28th of October, he fulfilled his promise. After 8 years, being introduced in the Congress for 5 times, failed and died 6, the Matthew Shepard Act was passed on 22nd of October. Less than a year after being the President, and less than a week after the bill was passed, President Obama signed the Act.
He didn't just signed it, he made it public, he made sure that all Americans understand their freedom from violence regardless of their actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
It's the first law in American history to includes transgender in legal protections.
With the families of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. behind him, he delivered his remarks.
"At root, this isn’t just about our laws; this is about who we are as a people. This is about whether we value one another – whether we embrace our differences, rather than allowing them to become a source of animus. It’s hard for any of us to imagine the mind-set of someone who would kidnap a young man and beat him to within an inch of his life, tie him to a fence, and leave him for dead. It’s hard for any of us to imagine the twisted mentality of those who’d offer a neighbor a ride home, attack him, chain him to the back of a truck, and drag him for miles until he finally died.
But we sense where such cruelty begins: the moment we fail to see in another our common humanity — the very moment when we fail to recognize in a person the same fears and hopes, the same passions and imperfections, the same dreams that we all share." -- President Obama