The Meaning of Matthew Shepard

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On Oct. 26, a day before the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the ashes of Matthew Shepard, the 21-year-old University of Wyoming student who in 1998 was beaten and left to die tied to a fence, were interred at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Shepard’s parents, Dennis and Judy, have spent the two decades since their son’s death fighting for LGBTQ rights.

Before the interment, Katie Couric sat down with the Shepards for an extended conversation about hate and healing, and spoke with them again after Pittsburgh. “Hate, of all kinds, is just below the surface,” says Dennis Shepard. “It erupts into the public view and attention when the haters are allowed to not only come out in public, but are allowed to stay in public and to publicly demonstrate their hate in words and actions. This freedom for haters was on full display in Pittsburgh during the Tree of Life Synagogue tragedy.”

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