By DAVID CRARY
AP National Writer
Twenty-five years have passed since gay 21-year-old college student Matthew Shepard died after being beaten and tied to a remote fence. His death has been memorialized as an egregious hate crime that helped fuel the LGBTQ+ rights movement over the ensuing years. There was slow but steady progress, notably with the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015. But any perception that the long struggle for equality was complete has been belied by recent events, including the enactment of many anti-LGBTQ+ state laws. Several LGBTQ+ activists interviewed this week by The Associated Press evoked Shepard as they discussed equal-rights progress.