Bittersweet feelings for Wyomingites following interment of Matthew Shepard in Washington

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Matthew Shepard, the gay University of Wyoming student murdered 20 years ago was laid to rest Friday. Some are upset that his final resting place is not in Wyoming. Wyomingites are bringing parts of home to where he now lies.

The interment service for Shepard took place Friday at the National Cathedral in Washington. Sara Burlingame, Director of the LGBT group Wyoming Equality says his resting place should be back home.

“I just feel really sad. I feel really sad,” said Burlingame.

She says Wyoming was not ready for a service for Shepard. She says some are unwilling to come to terms with exactly how and why the 21-year-old was beaten to death in October, 1998.

“Matt couldn’t be laid to rest in Wyoming without it becoming a flashpoint for hate and contention,” said Burlingame.

His final place of rest will be in the crypt at the National Cathedral. A plaque will go on a wall adjacent one honoring Helen Keller. Burlingame says she feels some closure, but also deep loss.

“I’m the director of Wyoming Equality. I should be working with Matt,” said Burlingame.

Rev. Gene Robinson presided over the ceremony. He was the first openly gay Bishop in the U.S. and says progress has been made. But he says there is still a long way to go when it comes to hate violence.

“Matt is a symbol for us about the violence that we do to all kinds of people that somehow we have labeled other,” said Robinson.

Burlingame says Wyoming is falling short when it comes to equality, but she is optimistic change is near.

“Wyoming is a state that deeply believes in equality, that deeply believes in fairness, and you can see that come through,” said Burlingame.

Following the public service, the Shepards attended a private ceremony in the crypt.