GLAAD Executive Director Joan M. Garry issued the following statement:

"The entire staff and board of GLAAD extends their deepest sympathies to the family, friends and loved ones of Matthew Shepard. His death this morning from the brutal, senseless attack he suffered last week is one which will be mourned not only by those closest to him, but by members of the lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender community across the country. People around the world are going to hear of Matthew's death and respond with the same horror that we have, and it's our deepest hope that they'll be able to see this attack for what it was: pure and unmitigated bigotry. There are no 'special rights' when it comes to hate crimes. The rhetoric of 'hope and healing' being used by religious political extremists, and their conviction that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people need to be 'changed,' fosters a climate of intolerance which puts people in harm's way. It must end now. Matthew Shepard is gone; how many more of us must follow him before our legislators will listen? The national Hate Crimes Prevention Act and similar state-level actions are crucial to protecting all Americans from the kind of horrors with Matthew Shepard and his family have been forced to endure."