Matthew Shepard's mom, Judy, wishes her son were alive to see Wednesday's Supreme Court ruling that struck down the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Just a few months before his death, her son said he didn't think same-sex marriage would ever be a possibility in the United States.
"There had been a [news] story about same-sex marriage and he was debating it with me," Judy Shepard told People magazine. "He asked me if I thought gay couples would ever be allowed to get married and he wasn't at all optimistic it would happen. He was in a mindset of, 'People are never going to accept us or understand us.'"
"I wish he'd been here to see it," she added. "This case warms my heart, to think that his dream is still coming true."
Matthew Shepard was murdered in October 1998 in what would amount to be one of the most horrific anti-gay crimes the nation has seen. He was abducted by two men in Laramie, Wy., tied to a fence, beaten and left to die. He was 21 years old.
After her son's death, Judy Shepard and her husband, Dennis, founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation. The group was set up to commemorate him with the motto: “Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion, & Acceptance." The mother has been an advocate for gay rights ever since.
Even after 15 years, Judy Shepard says her son's passing sometimes seems like it was just yesterday. She has made it her goal to prevent hate crimes from destroying other families. In 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act to help states more effectively fight hate crimes.
"When President Obama was elected we knew we had someone with the sensibilities to understand what this was really about," she told Katie Couric back in January. "Someone who was empathetic and sympathetic and knew it was the right thing to do."
On Wednesday, when the Supreme Court broke even more ground in the fight for equality, Obama applauded the justices for dismantling legislation that was simply "discrimination enshrined in law." And Judy Shepard rejoiced.