Matthew Shepard's Father Says Lawmakers Creating 'Open Season' on Gays



Matthew Shepard
  • Matthew Shepard
The father of Matthew Shepard, the gay college student who was tortured and murdered in 1998 in Wyoming, came to Nashville today to denounce anti-gay bills in the legislature. He said Rep. Richard Floyd’s threat to “stomp a mudhole” in transgender people could lead to violence against gay people in this state, where two gay teens have committed suicide since December.

“The comment about stomping transgender people—that does encourage,” Dennis Shepard told a news conference. “What it does it says, 'Well, nobody’s going to do anything.' It creates a policy of it’s open season. That’s what happened to Matt. Wyoming is one of five states that has no hate crime law whatever. So when they beat him, fractured his skull in 18 places with a butt of a .357 and left him to die, they thought, ‘no harm, no foul.’” They thought, ‘Who’s going to do anything? It’s just another gay.’”

Shepard expressed sorrow over the suicides of Phillip Parker Jr., 14, an eighth-grader at Gordonsville High School, and Cheatham County High School senior Jacob Rogers, 18. Both students were victims of bullying.

“These bills disturb me, just the fact that they’ve been brought to the forefront and there’s so much publicity about them,” Shepard said. “I’m concerned about the kids. They are our most valuable asset. They are our hope for the future. We can’t afford to lose a single one. We’ve lost two in the last 30 days. We’ll never know what those two young men could have done to help the city, the state and the country.”

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