DENVER: In recognition of the eighth anniversary of his death, the Matthew Shepard Foundation (MSF) is working with Renna Communications on an integrated campaign to encourage the lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual (LGBT) community and its allies to vote in the mid-term elections.
Shepard, who was gay, was killed in 1998 in Laramie, WY, in what has been classified as a hate crime.
Judy Shepard, executive director of MSF and campaign spokes- person, said that the initiative seemed like a natural fit for the organization, given her late son's passion for the voting process.
While gay rights has not shown up as a major issue in national polls for this election, Shepard said the issue is of paramount importance to particular races.
"We have the opportunity to vote out of office many of the politicians who are so rabidly against the LGBT community," she said, citing Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), who has been outspoken against gay rights. "If we can vote Santorum out of office, especially for our community, then we need to make every effort to get that done."
"We think that Judy's unique voice is one that can be motivating," said Cathy Renna, principal of Renna Communications.
The campaign includes a national ad buy in 29 gay and lesbian titles, an online video campaign, and what Renna describes as a "viral intra-community" effort to get the word out among other LGBT groups about the importance of voting this year.
MSF's Web site features an online pledge to vote and links to organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign and the Equality Federation.
Shepherd said that campaigns are especially important in mid-term elections, as sometimes people don't get motivated when there isn't a Presidential election.
"People don't seem to take it as seriously when the President is not being voted for, but... [I hope] they feel they have some power now and want to use it."