Elisa Carabajal Hunt can’t believe gay rights are still up for debate in 2019.

But they are, and that’s why Hunt is once again directing a production of “The Laramie Project” this weekend at Auburn Public Theater.

Presented by the Auburn Players Community Theatre, the show tells the story of Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student who was kidnapped and beaten by two men in October 1998. Tied to a fence in the freezing nighttime cold, Shepard was found the next day but died from his injuries almost a week later. His murderers received two consecutive life sentences. Meanwhile, calls for legislation recognizing hate crimes grew louder after Shepard’s death, culminating in the October 2009 passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

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