LGBT rights activist Judy Shepard, the mother of slain college student Matthew Shepard, released a short statement to The Advocate on the passing of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps. The self-proclaimed pastor rose to prominence after protesting at the funeral of Shepard, who was killed in an antigay hate crime in 1998. LGBT rights supporters protected the Shepard family at the funeral by dressing as angels and blocking the protesters.
"Regarding the passing of Fred Phelps, [husband] Dennis and I know how solemn these moments are for anyone who loses a loved one," Shepard said. "Out of respect for all people and our desire to erase hate, we’ve decided not to comment further."
Judy and Dennis Shepard are the founders of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, an organization devoted to fighting intolerance.