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Murdered Student Laid To Rest

The family of Matthew Shepard said goodbye to their son and spoke publicly about his death for the first time on Friday, reports CBS News Correspondent Cynthia Bowers.

"Matthew was the type of person that if this had happened to another person, would have been the first on the scene to offer his help, his hope his heart, to the family," said a tearful Dennis Shepard.

The family's request for a dignified funeral was ignored by protesters, who denounced the attention given the murder as a glorification of the gay lifestyle.

"I am here to make my point," said one protestor. "I am at war with the devil, I'm at war with sin."

Protesters at the funeral

Matthew Shepard, an openly gay freshman the University of Wyoming, was lured from a Laramie bar by two men, who allegedly hung him like a scarecrow on a fence, beat him beyond recognition and left him to die.

"Matthew's last minutes of consciousness may have been a hell," said Dennis Shepard on Friday.

The brutal nature of this crime has focused attention on hate, violence and gay rights. While Americans stand united in their condemnation of the killing, they were divided over the need for hate crime legislation.

"We need something here that will stiffen up the penalties against crimes like this and against causing such, I mean, pain and hurt," said Jonathon Stracy.

Others argue hate crime laws give special status to some groups.

"Proponents of hate crime legislation don't want prosecution. They want super prosecution," said Janet Parshall of the Family Research Council. "They want a particular group of people in this country where they get an extra special edition of the law."

The debate will likely continue. However, the grief felt by a family forced to endure and personal tragedy in the public spotlight will probably be lost in all the argument.

Reported by Cynthia Bowers
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