INTERVIEW: Judy Shepard Calls George W. Bush “Antigay” And Antonin Scalia “Clueless”

Queerty recently had an opportunity to talk with Matthew Shepard’s mother, Judy, about the Supreme Court’s rulings on Prop 8 and DOMA, and the discussions she and her 21-year-old son had about gay marriage the summer before he was murdered.

What was your immediate response to Wednesday’s ruling?

Relieved. Of course, I’m also wishing Matt was still here so he could enjoy it, too. I was hoping that they would do it all in one sweep, and then we wouldn’t have to deal with it anymore. But they haven’t. So the fight goes on.

What message does the Court’s ruling send about gay marriage?

Well, I think the decision was so close, 5-4. That kind of reflects the attitude of the country right now. Just by a slim majority do people support gay marriage. It’s going to take time. It’s a process as far as acceptance goes.

People who are against the gay community are in the minority. There are naysayers. They’ll never go away. But the positive response is far more encouraging than the negative response.

Why do you think that is?

A lot of that has to do with change in administration. Bush was so antigay. He wasn’t going to make any changes. But after Obama’s administration came into power, it was okay for people to say they favor equal rights for the gay community. Now we have a compassionate president. For eight years we did not.

What is your response to Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent of yesterday’s rulings?

The man is clueless. I don’t know how else to say it.

You know, he basically is the one who kicked gay marriage into the playing field ten years ago. All of this is a result of what he said in Lawrence V. Texas. He said the next step is going to be gay marriage, and sure enough it was. It became the number one thing anybody wanted to talk about. He put into motion both sides of the question.

What would you say to him if you had an opportunity to talk with him?

If I were to meet him personally, I would express my sincere sadness at his lack of compassion for his fellow human beings.

Did you and Matthew ever talk about marriage?

We did talk about marriage in the summer of ’98. Hawaii was debating the marriage question. I remember there was a Time magazine cover that summer, and he asked if I ever thought gay marriage would ever be allowed. I said I thought he would see it in his lifetime, but I would not see it in my lifetime. Of course, it happened the other way around. And that’s the sad irony to it all.

Was Matthew ever in love?

He had boyfriends and relationships, but they weren’t heavy enough for him to talk about. So I don’t know. If he was, he didn’t tell me. I know he was never in a long-term relationship. He was very young.

In the past, you’ve said Matthew’s dream was to see total equality for all. How does it feel to see your son’s dream finally coming into fruition?

It’s really very bittersweet. It’s sweet that it’s finally happening, and very sad that he’s not here to observe it and be a part of it. It would be extraordinary. An extraordinary thing. It’s a bittersweet moment for sure.

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  • Dakotahgeo

    A wonderful interview with Judy! Continued support and love for her and her family. Thank you, queerty!

  • Scribe38

    I want to give her a big hug.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Matthew’s demise was not in vain. He was instrumental in giving hate a face, so that people, who may otherwise be unmoved, were motivated to act. Equality from coast to coast, until then, we are 2nd class American citizens.

  • CaptainFabulous

    Even after all this time I still feel such a profound sadness from his death.

  • Charli Girl

    You are right Mathew IS a hero !!!!

  • Whup-Ass Master

    Judy’s the hero. Matthew was just a poor sweet kid who became a martyr without asking for it. Judy watched her son die in the hospital (I can’t fathom that kind of grief) and the experience turned her into a champion for civil rights. I weep for Matthew, but I cheer for his beautiful mother.

  • nature boy

    “I said I thought he would see it in his lifetime, but I would not see it in my lifetime. Of course, it happened the other way around. And that’s the sad irony to it all.”

    Judy, you were an inspiration to me when you spoke at the big March on Washington back in the 90’s. What a wonderful legacy to your son you have made from your tragedy. “life is like a grindstone… whether is wears you down or polishes you up, depends on what you’re made of”….. Judy you are a beautiful diamond! Thank you for all you have done.

  • Bopper1

    …I’m 50s and came out about two years ago…in all of the history of the LGBT struggle, the single, most galvanising moment for me is and continues to be the haunting image of how and why Matthew Shepard died…I have children, nephews…it could have been any one of them or anyone’s loved one…the brutality of Matthew’s death moves me to tears and anger even now…it is impossible for me to imagine that anyone, ANYONE, could die in such a manner owing to their sexual orientation…every day that I live, every thing that I do to further the cause of LGBT acceptance, tolerance and equal rights in American society, is because of him…he would be astonished at the place we are in America now…it is his epitaph and legacy…xo…

  • LadyL

    @Charli Girl: He is indeed. But at such cost, such cost…

  • maneater22

    It saddens me to know that after twenty years and the loss of such a beautiful person like Mathew, that somone wants to profit from his loss. Rest in peace Mathew, we love you.

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