Wyoming Hub




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.


Wyoming Republicans Lash Out At GOP Governor Matt Mead For Not Appealing Gay Marriage Ruling

Back in October, Republican Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead declined to appeal a federal district judge's ruling striking down the state's same-sex marriage ban. 

Mead recognized that since the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Wyoming, had struck down similar bans in other states, and that since the U.S. Supreme Court had declined to review the decision, such an appeal would be futile. As a result, same-sex couples began marrying in Wyoming.

Mead.MattTwo months later, GOP leaders in Goshen County are still smarting over the outcome, and they've decided to lash out at Mead (right). Thirty-three members of the county party's central committee have written a letter to Mead — along with the Senate president and the House speaker — slamming the governor for not appealing the decision.  

The Casper Star-Tribune reports: 

“We hold that Gov. Mead was remiss in not strenuously supporting and defending our platform planks on family and marriage which was manifested in his failure to appeal the same-sex marriage ruling of the U.S. District Court,” the letter states.

“While the opportunity to appeal has regrettably passed, we call on all our Republican office holders and leaders to do all they can from this point forward to support and promote our official party platform planks relating to family and marriage.”

Mead, who was re-elected in November, issued a statement in response to the letter saying he continues to oppose same-sex marriage: 

“But we need to recognize where we are with the courts, and I do recognize that. This group or other groups are free to pursue any recourse they believe is available. Interestingly, when I was fighting the case in Wyoming federal district court and a separate case in Wyoming state court, I did not hear from this group.”

Jeran Artery, chairman of Wyoming Equality, had this to say about the letter: 

“The Goshen County Republicans are on the wrong side of history,” he said. “I wonder, when they issue a statement like that and sign their names to it, what their grandkids and great-grandkids are going to think of this.”

And Gregory T. Angelo, executive director of National Log Cabin Republicans, said: 

“If you are a fiscal conservative, continuing a stringent opposition to civil marriage equality in the wake of these bans getting struck down, one after another, is in many respects doing a disservice to the taxpayers of the state,” he said.

Last month, a poll found that 53 percent of Wyoming residents now support same-sex marriage, compared to only 39 percent who oppose it. 

Meanwhile, LGBT advocates in Wyoming hope the marriage ruling will create new momentum for a bill to outlaw anti-LGBT discrimination.  

Other county GOP groups reportedly intend to send similar letters criticizing Mead for not appealing the ruling, but despite their efforts, it sounds as though Wyoming may be on its way to living up to its nickname: The Equality State. 


Eric Holder Announces Federal Government Will Recognize Gay Marriages in Six More States

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U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the federal government will recognize same-sex married couples in six additional states: Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Last week, Holder made a similar announcement regarding federal recognition of same-sex marriages in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Colorado. 

Via press release:

The Attorney General’s announcement means couples married in these states will now qualify for a range of federal benefits, including those administered by the Social Security Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs.

“With each new state where same-sex marriages are legally recognized, our nation moves closer to achieving of full equality for all Americans,” the Attorney General said. “We are acting as quickly as possible with agencies throughout the government to ensure that same-sex married couples in these states receive the fullest array of benefits allowable under federal law.”

In addition, the Attorney General also announced that the Department of Justice has determined it can legally recognize marriages performed in Indiana and Wisconsin this past June. These marriages were performed immediately after federal district courts ruled that those states’ bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, but subsequent developments created confusion about the status of those marriages. Based on the Attorney General’s announcement, however, those couples married during that period will now have their unions recognized by the federal government.


FIRST LOOK: Same-Sex Couples Begin Saying 'I Do' In Wyoming

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(Photo via Twitter)

With the news from Wyoming's Governor and Attorney General that the state will not appeal a district judge's ruling that struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, same-sex couples are officially able to marry in the now aptly named Equality State. Here are the first photos trickling in on Twitter of marriage equality arriving at long last in Wyoming.

Check them out, AFTER THE JUMP...

Developing...

Continue reading "FIRST LOOK: Same-Sex Couples Begin Saying 'I Do' In Wyoming" »


Marriage Equality Arrives In Wyoming

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c6f6ece2970b-300wiWyoming Governor Matthew H. Mead has made good on his promise not to appeal a ruling that came down last week that struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, BuzzFeed reports:

The State Defendants, Matthew H. Mead, Governor of Wyoming, Dean Fausset and Dave Urquidez, in their official capacities hereby notify the Court and the parties that they will not appeal the preliminary injunction [Doc. 44] to the United States Court of Appeals for the the Tenth Circuit.

As reported earlier, U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl said his ruling striking down the ban would take effect immediately if the state filed paperwork saying it would not appeal.

Wyoming will now become the 32nd state plus the District of Columbia that allows same-sex couples to wed. 


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