Frank Kameny Award

The Frank Kameny Award is presented to a member of the LGBTQ+ community who has paved the way for important legal victories without a United States Juris Doctorate. The award was created to honor the memory of Frank Kameny, a tireless advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and the only recipient of the LGBT Bar’s Dan Bradley Award who did not have a law degree.

We are delighted to announce that Judy Shepard is 2019’s Frank Kameny Awardee. Congratulations, Judy!

Judy is the mother of Matthew Shepard, who lost his life in a senseless murder motivated by homophobia and hate in 1998. Determined to prevent others from suffering Matthew’s fate, Judy and her husband Dennis turned their grief into action and established the Matthew Shepard Foundation to carry on their son’s legacy. The Foundation is dedicated to working toward the causes championed by Matthew during his lifetime: social justice, diversity awareness and education, and equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

Judy is the founding president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation Board of Directors and served as its executive director from 1999 to 2009. In her continuing role as board president, she travels across the United States speaking to audiences about what they can do both as individuals and as communities to create a more accepting world for everyone, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sex, gender identity and expression, or sexual orientation.

Judy was instrumental in championing the expansion of federal hate crimes legislation to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was first introduced in Congress in 2007 due to her diligent advocacy efforts, though it did not pass. In May 2009, she met with President Barack Obama, who promised he would help pass the legislation. On October 28 of that year, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed into law. This law expands previous hate crimes legislation to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

In honor of Judy’s steadfast service to the LGBTQ+ community, the National LGBT Bar Association is proud to recognize her as 2019’s Frank Kameny Award recipient. Her unflagging efforts have effected change at the highest levels of government, and her work has had a lasting impact on the legal rights and lived experiences of the LGBTQ+ community.

Previous Winners:

  • 2019

    Judy Shepard, Founding President of the Matthew Shepard Foundation

  • 2018

    Presented in memoriam to Major Christopher “Tripp” Zanetis, associate at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and Air National Guardsman

  • 2016

    Nadine Smith, co-founder and chief executive officer of Equality Florida

  • 2014

    Lieutenant Colonel Jennifer Pritzker, Chair and Founder of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, President and Founder of the Tawani Foundation and President and CEO of Tawani Enterprises, Inc.

  • 2012

    Dr. Stephen Whittle, OBE, Ph.D, Professor of Equalities Law, Manchester Metropolitan University