anti discrimination

Photo by Benson Kua via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0

In order to convince tech companies to set up shop in Wyoming, some believe there needs to be a statewide anti-discrimination law on the books. That would change state law to provide protections to LGBTQ people that others already have. Supporters say such a law will resolve a perception problem the state has had since the murder of Matthew Shepard.

Tennessee Watson

There are two communities in Wyoming with anti-discrimination ordinances: Jackson and Laramie. Outside city limits and across the rest of the state, LGBTQ individuals who face discrimination aren't protected by the law. But that didn't stop Kassi Willingham from moving back to her hometown of Rock Springs after a few years in Colorado.

Downtown Development Authority of Casper, Wyoming

When Casper’s City Council members consider a non-discrimination resolution at their next work session in January, it will be the second time they’ve discussed it. They first saw it in November, and Dee Lundberg said it went over well with most council members. Lundberg is with the local chapter of PFLAG, an LGBT advocacy group.

Sara Burlingame and Mike Lehman

 

Last year, after intense debate, the city of Cheyenne adopted an anti-discrimination resolution to protect members of the LGBT community and in this legislative session, lawmakers have tried and failed to pass state laws on both sides of the issue.

In the midst of all that, though, an unlikely friendship sprouted up.

LSO

The House sponsors of a controversial piece of legislation say they will remove House Bill 135 from consideration.

The bill was called the Government Nondiscrimination Act and was aimed at protecting business owners and employees from being punished or sued for not serving or selling to gay people because of moral or religious beliefs. It also trumped local ordinances that protected gay and transgender people.

 

An amendment that would have added gay and transgender people to a bill intended to protect Wyoming residents from housing discrimination—failed Tuesday.

Openly gay Laramie Democrat Cathy Connolly tried to add the two groups of people to the list of protected classes. Connolly, who is also a University of Wyoming Professor, says it’s a serious concern.

“I can tell you that at least once a year, a student comes to talk to me about the fear of losing his or her apartment or trailer, simply because they are gay.”

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

A huge effort by business coalitions to pass a bill to provide workplace protections to gay and transgender people came to an end Tuesday.  The Wyoming House of Representatives defeated Senate File 115, a much talked about anti-discrimination measure, 33 to 24. 

Floor debate was between those who say that workplace protections for gay and transgender people would make Wyoming’s business climate more welcoming versus those who say it provided unnecessary special protections. 

Miles Bryan

A bill that would protect gay, lesbian, and transgender people from being discriminated against in the workplace and in other locations was approved by the House Health, Labor, and Social Services Committee on Friday.

 

It was standing room only for the entire two hour hearing as people lined up to give testimony. The Wyoming Pastor’s Network came out in force against the bill.

 

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

The Wyoming Senate has given final approval to a bill that provides protections to gay and transgender people in the workplace.

Despite some minor opposition that it takes away rights from the business sector, the Senate overwhelmingly supported the bill 24 to 6. Cody Republican Hank Coe says it’s not a bill the Senate would have considered 15 years ago.

“Time has changed. This is 2015, we need to step up and do what we need to do and we need to pass this bill. Discrimination in the workplace, that’s what this bill is about, is just wrong.”

The Wyoming Senate continues work on a bill that is intended to protect gay and transgender people from discrimination in the workplace. 

Much of the debate centered on whether the private business sector should be exempted from the legislation.

Lander Senator Cale Case says he opposes discrimination, but says the bill goes too far.

“But you can’t tell people who they should hire and who they shouldn’t in their private business. And I go back and I say it’s a stupid idea that you would discriminate on this basis. But liberty includes the right to be stupid.”

The Wyoming Senate gave initial approval to a bill that would extend the state anti-discrimination protections to cover sexual orientation and gender identity.  The Senate started work on language to expand exemptions for religious charities, religious non-profits and groups such as the Boy Scouts.  Senator Dave Kinskey says they are trying to strike a balance.