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Two gay activists protesting Matthew Shepard's murder, in Los Angeles 1998. Photo: Hector Mata/AFP/Getty Images

Twenty years after his murder, the remains of Matthew Shepard will be interred at the Washington National Cathedral, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: 15 U.S. states don't include gender identity or sexual orientation in hate crime laws, per CNN, and five don't have hate crime laws at all. Those include Indiana, Georgia, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Wyoming — where Shepard was murdered. But Shepard, who was robbed, beaten, and tied to a fence in freezing temperatures, became "a symbol of deadly violence against gay people," per the Times, and continues to be a symbol today.

The details: The event at the cathedral, taking place October 26, will be overseen by the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop, Rev. V. Gene Robinson, along with the Episcopal Diocese of Washington's Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, the Times reports.

  • Wyoming has maintained that Shepard was not killed because he was gay, and, per the Associated Press, this week there was a forum in Laramie, Wyoming, where Shepard was killed, "questioning the prevailing view" that his sexual orientation was the motive for his murder.
  • One of the convicted killers, Russell Henderson, has said he and Aaron McKinney were not motivated by anti-gay hatred. But McKinney "repeatedly used homosexual slurs" in his confession.

Where things stand: Shepard's parents, Judy and Dennis, travel the country advocating for LGBTQ rights, CNN reports. They had a victory in 2009 when President Obama signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, but advocates argue that state legislatures must take action as well for there to be real protections.

  • In 2017, 52 LGBTQ people were killed in the U.S. because of hate violence, CNN reports — 86% more than the year prior.
  • Bishop Robinson told the NYT that Shepard's death is "a symbol of the kind of mindless, pointless violence against us for no other reason that being who we are. It is important for us to remind ourselves that we are still trying to come out from under that shadow."

Go deeper: Homosexuality still criminalized in much of the world

Go deeper

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will not seek re-election in 2022

Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) speaking during a press conference in November 2021. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), a moderate who typically ranks as one of the nation's most popular governors, said Wednesday that he and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito (R) will not seek third terms in 2022.

Why it matters: The decision leaves the gubernatorial race wide open and will likely affect multiple down-ballot races next year. Baker was expected to be the front-runner had he joined the race.

3 hours ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.