REMEMBERING MATTHEW SHEPARD

November 13, 2019 at 4:45 am

A little over one year after Matthew Shepard was finally laid to rest, the Washington National Cathedral and the Matthew Shepard Foundation are dedicating a plaque in his honor. His parents Judy and Dennis will join us to remember their son.

Aired on November 12, 2019.

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>>> YOU KNOW WHO MATTHEW
SHEPHERD WAS.
IF NOT, YOU SHOULD.
LET ME REMIND YOU.
HE WAS A 21-YEAR-OLD COLLEGE
STUDENT WHO IN 1998 WAS TORTURED
AND BRUTALLY BEATEN JUST FOR
BEING GAY.
TIED TO A FENCE AND LEFT TO DIE,
HE WAS DISCOVERED 18 HOURS
LATERS IN BELOW FREEZING
TEMPERATURES.
MATTHEW SUCCUMBED TO HIS
INJURIES ONE WEEK LATER.
THIS HORRIFIC MURDER WOULD
BECOME A CATALYST FOR REWRITING
THE NATION'S HATE CRIME LAWS
AMONG OTHER THINGS.
HIS PARENTS CONTINUE THEIR FIGHT
TO, QUOTE, ERASE HATE.
I'M DELIGHTED THEY'RE JOINING US
NOW.
>> THANK YOU.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
>> LET'S START AT THE GIPING, 20
YEARS AGO.
THIS IS HARD.
I REMEMBER COVERING THE STORY.
FOR YOU, JUST THE NOTION OF 20
YEARS HAVING PASSED MUST BE SO
DIFFICULT.
BUT LET'S TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU'VE
DONE IN THOSE 20 YEARS.
I MENTIONED THE FOUNDATION.
AND LET ME START WITH YOU, WHAT
WAS THE IDEA BEHIND THE
FOUNDATION WHEN YOU STARTED IT?
>> WE RECEIVED A LOT OF
CORRESPONDENCE WHILE MATT WAS
STILL IN THE HOSPITAL AND SOON
AFTER HE PASSED FROM PARENTS OF
GAY CHILDREN ASKING US TO USE
OUR VOICE AS ACCEPTING PARENTS
TO SHOW OTHER PARENTS YOUR KIDS
ARE YOUR KIDS NO MATTER WHAT AND
WE HAD LOST OUR SON TO A
HORRIFIC ACT OF VIOLENCE.
BUT OTHER FAMILIES HAVE THE
OPPORTUNITY TO BRING THEIR
CHILDREN AND WELCOME THEIR
CHILDREN BACK INTO THEIR
FAMILIES.
THAT WAS WHAT GOT US STARTED.
WE FELT LIKE WE OWED IT TO MATT
TO DO THAT.
IT MORPHED INTO MANY THINGS
SINCE THEN BUT THAT'S WHAT
STARTED IT.
>> ONE OF THE THINGS -- WE
TALKED ABOUT IT HERE ON THE
PROGRAM IN THE PAST -- THAT'S
THE LARAMY PROJECT.
>> THAT WAS A PLAY IN THE
TECTONIC THEATER.
THEY WENT OUT TO LARAMIE AND
INTERVIEWED PEOPLE JUST TO GET
THEIR REACTIONS.
FROM THAT, THEY DEVELOPED THE
LARAMIE PROJECT WHICH IS THE
SECOND-MOST PRODUCED PLAY IN THE
UNITED STATES BOTH FROM HIGH
SCHOOLS, COLLEGES, ADULT THEATER
GROUPS, ET CETERA.
AND THEN THEY ACTUALLY WENT BACK
TEN YEARS LATER AND DID THE
SECOND PLAY CALLED "LARAMIE
PROJECT: TEN YEARS LATER" AND
WENT BACK AND FOUND OUT IF
ATTITUDES HAD CHANGED AND IF
IDEAS AND ACCEPTANCE HAD GOTTEN
BETTER.
>> I HEARD YOU TALK ABOUT THE
FACT THAT YOU'RE CONCERNED ABOUT
THE CURRENT POLITICAL
ENVIRONMENT AND THE IMPACT IT
COULD HAVE ON WHAT YOU'VE BEEN
DOING IN MATTHEW'S MEMORY.
WHY ARE YOU CONCERNED?
>> WELL, WE WERE MAKING SUCH
PROGRESS UNDER THE OBAMA
ADMINISTRATION NOT ONLY IN
LEGISLATIVE AND LEGAL SENSE BUT
IN A MORAL SENSE, I THINK OF IT.
PEOPLE BEGAN TO UNDERSTAND AND
ACCEPT THE GAY COMMUNITIES AND
ALL MINORITIES AS UNDERSTANDING.
WE'RE ALL JUST TRYING TO LIVE
OUR LIVES JUST THE SAME AS I
SAID, WE'RE JUST THE SAME.
TO FEEL SAFE AND SECURE, LOVED,
AND BE LOVED IN RETURN.
REALLY NO DIFFERENCE.
OBAMA PUT IN MANY THINGS WITH
EXECUTIVE ORDER OR SOME KIND OF
REGULATION TO PROTECT LGBT
STUDENTS AND WORKERS THAT NOW
HAVE BEEN TURNED BACK.
AND I'M WORRIED THAT NOT ONLY
ARE THEY DOING IT IN A
REGULATORY SENSE BUT THEY'RE
DOING IT IN THE WAY THEY TALK
ABOUT THE GAY COMMUNITY AND NOT
JUST THE GAY COMMUNITY BUT
IMMIGRANTS, WOMEN, PEOPLE OF
COLOR.
IT JUST FEELS LIKE EVERYTHING IS
TOPSY-TURVY NOW LIKE WE'VE
LITERALLY GONE BACK TO THE 50s
WHERE THERE WAS NO ACCEPTANCE OF
ANYBODY BUT WHITE CHRISTIAN MEN.
>> WHAT DO YOU THINK WE NEED TO
DO ABOUT THAT?
I SHOULD INTERJECT BECAUSE I SAW
A COMMENT FROM SOMEBODY FROM THE
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SAYING IF
YOU LOOK TO CANDIDATE TRUMP'S
COMMENTS, HE AT ONE POINT IN
TIME SAID LGBTQ FOLKS WILL DO
WELL UNDER MY ADMINISTRATION.
>> YEAH.
>> AND THEY'VE SAID GIVE THE
ADMINISTRATION A CHANCE.
SO, THAT'S THE RESPONSE YOU'VE
HEARD FROM THEM.
WHAT DO YOU THINK WE NEED TO DO?
>> THAT WAS TRUMP'S PROMISE BUT
IT WASN'T VICE PRESIDENT PENCE'S
PROMISE OR ATTORNEY GENERAL
SESSIONS' PROMISE OR REX
TILLERSON'S PROMISE OR ANYBODY
IN THE CABINET'S PROMISE.
THEY HAVE THE DISTINCT RECORD OF
BEING ANTI-GAY, THE VICE
PRESIDENT IN PARTICULAR.
TRUMP MAY HAVE JUST TALKED A
LOT.
BUT HIS FOLKS AROUND HIM HAD
OPINIONS AND THEY'VE BEEN GIVING
THOSE OPINIONS AND THOSE
APPOINTMENT RECOMMENDATIONS TO
HIM.
SO --
>> THIS IS A DIFFICULT QUESTION.
BUT SOMETIMES I THINK IT CAN BE
HELPFUL.
IF YOU HAD SOME TIME TO SIT DOWN
WITH MEMBERS OF THE
ADMINISTRATION WHO YOU FEEL HAVE
NOT BEEN DOING WHAT THEY SHOULD
BE DOING, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO
THEM?
>> I WOULDN'T TALK TO THEM
BECAUSE THEY ARE -- THEIR MIND'S
ALREADY MADE UP.
THEY'RE NOT GOING TO CHANGE.
THAT'S WHY THEY'RE IN THERE.
>> WE HAD EXPERIENCE WITH
TALKING TO THEM, SESSIONS AND
PENCE WHEN THEY WERE IN CONGRESS
AND TRYING TO DO THE HATE CRIME
LEGISLATION.
THEY'RE SO ATTACHED TO THIS IDEA
THAT THE GAY COMMUNITY IS LESS
THAN AND NOT DESERVING OF THAT
IT WAS JUST -- IT WAS POINTLESS.
NOW, IN A LARGER SENSE, YES,
THEY SAY PEOPLE ARE EQUAL AND
DESERVE, YOU KNOW, SAFETY AND
ALL THAT.
BUT WHEN THEY TRY TO SAY YOU CAN
STILL FIRE THEM FROM THEIR JOBS
OR THAT GAY MARRIAGE SHOULDN'T
BE ALLOWED, THAT'S NOT SENDING A
MESSAGE OF INCLUSIVENESS THAT
THIS COUNTRY SHOULD BE.
I'M NOT SURE THAT WE COULD IN
ANY WAY CHANGE THEIR MIND.
THERE IS A SEGMENT OF SOCIETY
THAT JUST IS NOT ON BOARD WITH
THAT.
>> HOPEFULLY THE CONVERSATION
THAT YOU'RE DRIVING WITH
CONTINUE.
AND WE'LL GET WHERE WE NEED TO
BE.
>> WE HOPE SO.
>> I WANT TO THANK YOU BOTH FOR
SPENDING TIME.
WE APPRECIATE WHAT YOU'VE BEEN
DOING.
YOU BOTH BE WELL.
>> THANKS.
>>> BEFORE WE LET YOU GO
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Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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