by Christopher Rudolph
Judy and Dennis Shepard, the parents of the late Matthew Shepard, made an appearance on the second night of the Democratic National Convention.
The Shepards represented their home state of Wyoming during the program’s virtual roll call as representatives from 57 states and territories cast their votes for Joe Biden to be the Democratic Party’s nominee for president.
“After our son Matthew’s death in Wyoming, Joe Biden helped pass the legislation to protect LGBTQ Americans from hate crimes,” said Dennis. “Joe understands more than most our grief over Matt’s death. But we see in Joe so much of what made Matt’s life special: his commitment to equality, his passion for social justice and his compassion for others.”
Wyoming ultimately cast four votes for Bernie Sanders and 11 votes for Biden.
It has been 22 years since Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten and left to die tied to a split-rail wood fence in Laramie, Wyoming. His death sparked a national conversation about toxic homophobia and hate crimes in this country: His parents were spurred on to become activists, founding the Matthew Shepard Foundation and helping to get the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act signed by President Obama in 2009. The two were honored as Logo Trailblazers in 2015.
In 2018 Shepard’s ashes were placed in a niche in the crypt columbarium, a private, off-limits area on the lower level of the Washington National Cathedral. Shepherd will be one of around 200 people interred at the cathedral in the last century, including President Woodrow Wilson and Helen Keller.
Watch Judy and Dennis Shepard’s appearance in the DNC’s virtual roll call in the video below.
I write about drag queens. Dolly Parton once ruffled my hair and said I was “just the cutest thing ever.”