Ten Years After His Death, Matthew Shepard Recognized with Bench


Given the impact that Matthew Shepard’s death has had on this nation over the past ten years, I might have expected more than simply a bench in his honor in Laramie, Wyoming. However, some comfort can be taken in the foundation that bears his name as well as the tireless efforts by Judy Shepard over the years to speak out against anti-gay hate crimes.

ShepardsOn Saturday, both Judy and Dennis Shepard attended a ceremony dedicating a bench to their son, as the 10th anniversary of his death approaches.

The AP reports:”Dennis Shepard said he hopes people enjoy the bench, which sits outside the university’s arts and sciences building with potted plants and flowers on either side. A plaque affixed to the bench, paid for by the foundation, reads: ‘Matthew Wayne Shepard Dec. 1, 1976-Oct. 12, 1998. Beloved son, brother, and friend. He continues to make a difference. Peace be with him and all who sit here.’ … ‘The words that we have written there are heartfelt,’ Dennis Shepard said. ‘Matt would have been the first to say so. And as far as we’re concerned, with the words here, he’s the last to say so.'”

Also attending the ceremony were University of Wyoming President Tom Buchanan, who said the school now has “an annual social justice symposium named after Shepard; created a resource center to support gays, lesbians, bisexuals and others; and developed a center for social justice to research and expose sources of inequity in society.” Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal and his wife, Nancy were there at the dedication as well.

The bench is located at Quealy Plaza, located at the east entrance of the UW College of Arts and Sciences Building.

NOTE: Reverend Fred Phelps and his band of evil apostles have been making the disgusting effort to place a hate monument to Shepard in Casper, Wyoming for years.

Fred Phelps Renews Push for “Matthew Shepard in Hell” Monument [tr]


  1. John in Manhattan says

    Any guess as to how many days pass before someone spray paints FAGGOT on the bench?

    Last night I watched Moises Kaufman, author of The Laramie Project, interviewed on television. He said virtually nothing has changed in Laramie, Wyoming as far as attitudes. No legislation protecting LGBT has passed. And of course there are still those that believe Matthew’s murder was nothing more than a drug deal gone bad. Pathetic.

  2. Matt says

    I’m conflicted upon reading this… Why do we have to critique any action that is considered positive in honoring this man?

    If you feel something bigger should be done, I hope you use this medium to galvinize your readership to honor Matthew Shepard, rather than highlight the low-impact memorial.

  3. says

    The best way to honor Matthew Shepard — and the thousands of others who have been attacked and murdered for their sexual orientation — is to pass the Matthew Shepard Act otherwise known as the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007. Although I am no fan of Obama (as if you didn’t know) if his election results in the enactment of this bill, then I will consider his Administration to be a success.

    I have concerns whether Obama — even with a Democratic Congress in place — actually will repeal DOMA and ENDA, but I would hope that hate crime extension to include sexual orientation through the Matthew Shepard Act is the very least that can be done.

  4. ShyLurker says

    What I find quite disheartening is that most of my straight friends who don’t have ongoing connections with the collective queer consciousness (for lack of a better term) have basically forgotten about Matthew Shepard.

    This includes even the sympathetic gay-friendly people who watched the coverage and joined vigils ten years ago and were horrified by the brutality. Sadly, in my experience as time has passed, most just. don’t. remember.

    Not counting the vitriolic attentions of Fred Phelps, the unconnected non-gay population will barely notice this moment amid the fervor of election campaigns and the volatile economy.

    This would partially explain the marking of this sad anniversary with a token bench rather than something more permanent, even in the community closest to the situation.

    From those who do still remember: continue to rest in peace, Matthew Shepard

  5. Bill Perdue says

    A bench is better than nothing.

    And nothing is what we got last December when the Democrats, with the gleeful backing to the Republicansm, commemorated the event. In December of 2007 they callously tossed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill in the garbage without consultation with LGBT groups. They did it so no one would think that the Democrats were GLBT friendly because they’re courting the bigot vote. That’s the same reason they gutted ENDA and refused to repeal Clintons DADT and DOMA.

    The Democrats are our enemy just as much as the Republicans.

    Vote for the union led and funded Labor Party or for socialist or communist candidates. Or if you’re tired of voting for the lesser bigot, the lesser warmonger or the best friend of Wall Street’s bailout and you want to build the movement instead that’s fine too.

    Except in California, Arizona and Florida, where our top national priority is to mobilize the vote and defeat the bigot sponsored anti-LGBT same sex marriage initiatives.

  6. Paul R says

    None of you seem to understand Wyoming, where my entire family is from. I wouldn’t say this in other cases, but here—take what you can get, and don’t anticipate or foment hate.

    Your BS rhetoric will have zero effect on anyone.

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