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Laramie, Wyoming Passes Comprehensive LGBT Non-Discrimination Ordinance: VIDEO

Wyoming

Laramie City Council, Wyoming has approved Laramie Order 1915 which will prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment and access to public facilities, the AP reports.

The council of the town where Matthew Shepard was murdered 17 years ago voted 7-2 in favor of the motion.

2d45feb61e914cc8ba60947c055bf952-Photo-1-324x450The Legislature had repeatedly rejected anti-discrimination bills, most recently early this year.

Jeran Artery, head of the group Wyoming Equality, said:

"What a day for Wyoming, and what a day for the city that became synonymous with Matthew Shepard's murder to now step up and do this right thing. And I would really encourage other communities across the state to follow Laramie's lead."

Matthew Shepard’s mother Judy, who is active in a Denver foundation focusing on equality issues, said she was thrilled “that Laramie's doing it, at the same time sort of saddened that the state of Wyoming can't see fit to do that as well. Maybe the rest of Wyoming will understand this is about fellow human beings and not something that's other than what they are."

Openly gay Rep. Cathy Connolly (D-Laramie) (above) said:

“Know that, in Albany County, five of six of your senators and representatives not only supported that measure, but actively, vigorously supported that measure, and we will continue to do so. My hope is from tonight that we will do so using the leadership of Laramie”

Two councilors voted against the ordinance. Both Joe Vitale and Bryan Schuster said they were concerned the ordinance caused concerns about religious freedom.

Rep. Kendell Kroeker (R-Evansville), who voted against the anti-discrimination bill this year, said “the Matt Shepard case was a tragedy, but I don't see how an anti-discrimination ordinance would have stopped somebody from committing that heinous crime."

Watch a report, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Wyoming House Rejects Bill Protecting LGBT People from Discrimination in 33-26 Vote

Wyoming's House of Representatives on Tuesday rejected an LGBT non-discrimination bill, the Casper Star-Tribune reports:

Flag_wyomingSenate File 115 failed, with 33 opposing it, 26 supporting it and one lawmaker excused.

The bill would have added “sexual orientation or gender identity” to a handful of state laws that protect people regardless of their race, creed, age, pregnancy, disability and other classes.

The state Senate had passed the bill in early February.

You may recall that a House panel advanced the bill last Friday after ejecting Rep. Harlan Edmonds of Cheyenne. Edmonds had proposed an amendment to the bill that would have made it effective "when Hell freezes over."


Wyoming House Panel Advances LGBT Bill After Ejecting GOP Rep Who Wanted 'Hell Freezes Over' Effective Date

A Wyoming House panel advanced a non-discrimination bill that would protect people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity after ejecting a lawmaker from the meeting, the Star-Tribune reports:

EdmondsThe bill had previously passed the Senate and now moves to the House floor for debate.

Rep. Harlan Edmonds (pictured), R-Cheyenne, was kicked out of the House Labor, Health and Social Services meeting Friday, after proposing an amendment to the bill that would make it effective when “hell freezes over,” instead of the date of July 1.

Committee Chairwoman Rep. Elaine Harvey, R-Lovell, had started the Friday afternoon meeting insisting people would remain civil. She told Edmonds to leave after his comment, which followed a more than two-hour discussion in which he also asked the bill’s supporters why pedophilia wasn’t in the bill.

“We said civility would prevail,” Harvey said.

Edmonds tried to cast a vote while leaving the room but was told it wouldn't count.


Wyoming Senate Passes LGBT Anti-Discrimination Bill

Wyoming's Senate has passed a bill that would ban discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The AP reports:

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c73d4f9f970b-250wiThe Senate voted 24-to-6 on Tuesday to send the bill to the House.

The bill would add prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity to a range of state laws that now prohibit discrimination based on other factors including race, age, disability and political affiliation.

The bill has exemptions for religious organizations.

Supporters of the bill say some gay and transgender Wyomingites have experienced discrimination, including being fired or physically assaulted.

Bill opponent Sen. Curt Meier, R-LaGrange, said on the Senate floor that he regarded the bill as a problem looking for a solution when one already exists in federal anti-discrimination laws.

La Grange also introduced an amendment that would have provided an additional exemption for businesses with fewer than 15 employees. That amendment failed, as The Casper Star-Tribune reports. Said Meier, “This is a feel-good bill, ‘I’m OK, you’re OK.’”

The bill, which was introduced with bipartisan support back in January, continued to receive support across party lines up until the final vote. Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody, commented, “Times have changed. It’s 2015. We need to step up and we need to pass this bill.”

The bill now awaits approval in Wyoming's House of Representatives. 


Bipartisan Coalition of Wyoming State Lawmakers Introduce LGBT Anti-Discrimination Bill

A bill that would prohibit employment discrimination based on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity has been filed in the Wyoming Senate by a bipartisan group of state lawmakers, the Casper Star-Tribune reports:

WyomingIn addition to employees in the private sector, the Wyoming Human Resources Division would have to consider people seeking employment on the basis of their suitability and qualifications and without regard to their sexual orientation or gender identity, the bill states.

Public school teachers would not be discriminated against in compensation on account of sexual orientation or gender identity, according to SF115.

The bill would not apply to employment practices of a religious corporation, association, educational institution or society.

It also would not apply to people who work in ministry. They are currently protected under Wyoming law, and the legislation further articulates the protections, according to a statement by Compete Wyoming, a statewide coalition of business leaders who seek an update in the state’s law to draw more competitive workers to the state.

“This bill is about 9 to 5, 7 to 7 or whatever your workday is,” said Liz Brimmer, of Compete Wyoming. “It is about judging workers on their performance, qualifications and talent.  It’s just bad business to discriminate, and updating this law is important in the Equality State so that workers are productive, taxpaying and safe.”

Senate President Phil Nicholas and House Speaker Kermit Brown, both Republicans from Laramie, have signed on to the bill.

Anti-gay State Rep. Nathan Winters, meanwhile, has introduced a bill that would empower everyone from county clerks to private photographers to discriminate against LGBT citizens if their religious beliefs compel them to. 


Anti-gay Wyoming State Representative Backs Ludicrous 'License to Discriminate' Bill

WintersState Representative and pastor Nathan Winters is doing his part to stand in the way of civil equality in Wyoming by sponsoring The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, proposed legislation that would empower religious conservatives to discriminate against LGBT persons. Speaking to the Casper-Times Tribune Winters described the bill as an effort to keep his constituents free “from oppression of government if they choose to exercise freedom of conscience.”

Like many of the religious freedom bills that conservatives have championed in recent memory, HB 83 is predictably broad in its supposed protections of an increasingly “persecuted” religious minority. The government, HB 83 reads, "shall not burden a person's right to the exercise of religion or moral conscience, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability."

The bill goes on to state that the law "shall be liberally construed in favor of the broad interpretation of the exercise of religious and moral conscience to the maximum extent permitted by this act and the Wyoming constitution and the United States constitution."

In layman’s terms: HB 83 views a devout, religious identity as a free-for-all invitation to disregard any and all civil liberties that should be given the most forgiving preferential treatment in legal cases involving discrimination.


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