LGBT activists have expressed their disappointment at the dropping of the Matthew Shepard Act hate crimes bill in the US.

The Matthew Shepard Act, which had passed the Senate as an amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization bill, is now to be removed from the final version of the bill.

The announcement was made after a vote count revealed that there were not enough votes for further passage of the Department of Defense Authorization bill if it included the federal hate crimes provision.

Judy and Dennis Shepard, parents of Matthew Shepard, the young gay man who was brutally murdered in 1998 because of his sexuality, expressed their “sadness” that the The Matthew Shepard Act had been withdrawn.

“We are truly dismayed to find that Congress now will put aside its leadership on passage of federal hate crimes legislation that includes sexual orientation and gender identity,” they said in a statement.

“Today’s decision is deeply disappointing, especially given the historic passage of hate crimes legislation through both Houses of Congress this year. After more than ten years and several successful bipartisan votes, it is heartbreaking to fall short this close to the finish line,” said Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign.

“However, we are not giving up on efforts to find another legislative vehicle, in the second half of this Congress, to move the Matthew Shepard Act,” he said.

“This has never simply been about Matthew Shepard and our family, this legislation is a gift delayed but never forgotten for all America’s families,” said the Shepards.

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