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After 20 years, Wyoming still struggles with Matthew Shepard's murder

| Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, 1:12 p.m.
This 1989 photo provided by the Matthew Shepard Foundation shows Matthew Shepard in San Francisco. The murder of  Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student, was a watershed moment for gay rights and LGBTQ acceptance in the U.S., so much so that 20 years later the crime remains seared into the national consciousness.
Dennis Shepard/The Matthew Shepard Foundation via AP
This 1989 photo provided by the Matthew Shepard Foundation shows Matthew Shepard in San Francisco. The murder of Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student, was a watershed moment for gay rights and LGBTQ acceptance in the U.S., so much so that 20 years later the crime remains seared into the national consciousness.
In this Oct. 10, 1999 file photo, students sing at a vigil against violence at Prexy's Pasture on the University of Wyoming campus in Laramie, Wyo. The murder of Matthew Shepard, an openly gay student at the University of Wyoming, was a watershed moment for gay rights and LGBTQ acceptance in the U.S., so much so that 20 years later the crime remains seared into the national consciousness.
Ed Andrieski/AP
In this Oct. 10, 1999 file photo, students sing at a vigil against violence at Prexy's Pasture on the University of Wyoming campus in Laramie, Wyo. The murder of Matthew Shepard, an openly gay student at the University of Wyoming, was a watershed moment for gay rights and LGBTQ acceptance in the U.S., so much so that 20 years later the crime remains seared into the national consciousness.
In this Oct. 9, 1999 file photo, a cross made of stones rests below the fence in Laramie, Wyo. where a year earlier, University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was tied and pistol whipped into a coma. He later died.
Ed Andrieski/AP
In this Oct. 9, 1999 file photo, a cross made of stones rests below the fence in Laramie, Wyo. where a year earlier, University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was tied and pistol whipped into a coma. He later died.
Inmate Russell Henderson, seen Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018, looks on during a prison interview at Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution, in Torrington, Wyo. Henderson is serving two consecutive life sentences for the murder of Matthew Shepard. Disagreement and raw emotion over Shepard's killing linger in Wyoming 20 years after the crime.
Rick Bowmer/AP
Inmate Russell Henderson, seen Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018, looks on during a prison interview at Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution, in Torrington, Wyo. Henderson is serving two consecutive life sentences for the murder of Matthew Shepard. Disagreement and raw emotion over Shepard's killing linger in Wyoming 20 years after the crime.

LARAMIE, Wyo. — When two roofing workers beat a young gay man to death in Wyoming in 1998, the gruesome crime quickly reverberated around the United States.

Matthew Shepard’s death turned the sandy-haired college student into a powerful symbol of the quest for acceptance and equal rights. But two decades later, the emotions stirred up by his slaying linger in Wyoming.

The state still struggles with its tarnished identity and resists changes sought by the LGBTQ community. As recently as Tuesday, days before the anniversary of Shepard’s death, about 200 people attended a forum in Laramie questioning the prevailing view that he was murdered because of his sexual orientation.

Shepard was 21 when he was bludgeoned, tied to a rail fence and left to die on the cold high prairie.

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