Matthew Shepard: Over $20,000 crowdfunded for memorial plaque

Matthew Shepard's death sparked changes to hate crime laws.

More than $20,000 has been fundraised so far to install a memorial plaque near to where Matthew Shepard was laid to rest in Washington DC.

A GoFundMe page was set up on November 12 to crowdfund $30,000 for the Matthew Shepard bronze plaque to be installed in the chapel of St. Joseph of Arimathea at Washington National Cathedral.

The plaque would sit alongside a plate dedicated to political activist Helen Keller.

The GoFundMe had raised $23,946 at the time of publication.

Matthew Shepard, who was laid to rest in October at Washington National Memorial

Matthew Shepard was murdered 20 years ago. (Matthew Shepard Foundation)

Memorial plaque is an opportunity to “honour” Matthew Shepard, says GoFundMe

“We now have the opportunity to add a second historic bronze plaque to the chapel—honoring Matthew Shepard,” the GoFundMe page reads.

“For decades to come, this will be a reverent site that resonates with meaning and memory for all, including LGBTQ Americans.”

Shepard’s remains were interred in a crypt near to the chapel on October 26.

Matthew Shepard’s murder led to LGBT+ hate crime laws in the US

Shepard, whose murder in 1998 paved the way for LGBT+ hate crime legislation in the US, was buried following a service in front of more than 2,000 people.

It took over two decades to find a secure resting place for Shepard, whose parents feared his grave would be vandalised.

Around 200 people are interred in the Cathedral, including deaf-blind activist Keller and former US president Woodrow Wilson.

The thanksgiving and remembrance service in Washington DC was led by the retired reverend Gene Robinson, the first openly gay priest to become a bishop in the Episcopal Church.

Robinson carried an urn containing Shepard’s ashes down the aisle in a candlelit procession, followed by Shepard’s parents Judy and Dennis.

Dennis Shepard, who spoke at a ceremony before his son Matthew Shepard was laid to rest

Dennis Shepard speaks at the ceremony before his son is laid to rest. (Reuters)

Shepard’s father, Dennis Shepard, spoke at the ceremony.

“It is so important we now have a home for Matt,” he said. “A home that others can visit. A home that is safe from haters.”

He added: “Matt was blind, just like this beautiful house of worship.

“He did not see skin colour. He did not see religion. He did not see sex orientation. All he saw was a chance to have another friend.”

Shepard’s parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard, became LGBT+ activists after their son’s death, starting the Matthew Shepard Foundation in 1998 to lobby for hate crime legislation to be extended to include acts against LGBT+ people.

Shepard was beaten, tortured and murdered in Laramie, Wyoming on October 12 1998, at the age of 21.

His death brought national attention to anti-LGBT+ discrimination and eventually led to the 2009 Matthew Shepard Act, which broadened federal hate crime legislation to include sexual orientation and gender identity.