The remains of Matthew Shepard – the
21-year-old gay student who was brutally murdered in 1988 – were
interred Friday at the Washington National Cathedral.
Shepard, a University of Wyoming
student, was brutally murdered in 1988 by two men he met in a gay
bar. He was left to die near Laramie. He died six days later at a
hospital from severe head injuries.
Shepard's parents, Dennis and Judy
Shepard, were among the thousands who attended a public service that
took place before Shepard's ashes were interred in the church's
Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly
gay bishop of the Episcopal Church, and Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop
of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, presided over the service.
During the service, Robinson appeared
to take a swipe at the Trump administration, suggesting a similarity
between the administration of President Ronald Reagan's opposition to
gay rights and Trump's opposition to transgender rights.
“[T]he bigger picture here is what we
human beings tend to do, which is to label someone different from
ourselves as other, which is code for not really human, and then you
can do anything to them that you like,” Robinson said. “Violence
takes lots of forms. And right now the transgender community is the
target. There are forces about who would erase them from America;
deny them the right they have to define themselves. And they need us
to stand with them.”
At the end of his homily, Robinson
tearfully added: “So, I have three things I want to say to Matt.
Gently rest in this place. You are safe now. Oh yeah, and Matt,
Dennis and Judy Shepard spent the
better part of a decade lobbying for passage of the Matthew Shepard
and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was signed by
former President Barack Obama in 2009. The Shepards also created the
Matthew Shepard Foundation to fight for LGBT rights.
“It's so important that we have a
home for Matt,” said Dennis Shepard. “A home that others can
visit; a home that is safe from haters; a home that he loved dearly
from his younger days in Sunday school and as an acolyte at his
church back home.”
Buddle said that Shepard's remains will
be protected “while his soul is safe with God and his spirit lives
On Thursday, the Shepards donated some
of their son's personal items to the National Museum of American
History. A candlelight vigil to remember Shepard was held in Dupont
Circle on Thursday.