LGBT

Caroline Ballard

A new mural in downtown Laramie will be dedicated as one of the first events of Laramie PrideFest. The mural features notable people affiliated with social justice and civil rights in the state - including suffragists, the University of Wyoming Black 14, and the action angels that blocked Westboro Baptist Church protestors at the Matthew Shepard murder trial almost 20 years ago. Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard visited the mural and spoke with the artist behind it, Adrienne Vetter.

The Executive Committee of the Teton County Republican Party says it’s formally supporting a Jackson ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Laramie PrideFest

Laramie will host its second annual Pride celebration at the end of June. Laramie PrideFest will begin with a proclamation of Pride Month by the Laramie City Council Tuesday, June 26. 

Wyoming Equality


Starting this fall, Wyoming Equality will offer scholarships specifically for LGBTQ students. Melanie Vigil, the Co-Chair for the organization’s board, spoke with Wyoming Public Radio’s Maggie Mullen about how the scholarships will be the first of their kind in the state.

In the summer of 2012, fiancés David Mullins and Charlie Craig tried to order a wedding cake from a shop in a Denver suburb. The owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop refused to serve the same-sex couple because of his Christian beliefs. Now, the Supreme Court has sided with the baker, but not for the reason you might expect.

Dennis and Judy Shepard
Bob Beck

20 years ago this fall, an openly gay University of Wyoming student was robbed, tied to a fence, brutally beaten, and left for dead on the outskirts of Laramie. He died a few days later. The murder of Matthew Shepard was called a hate crime by local law enforcement officers and it lead to worldwide attention on the topic of LGBTQ rights. His parents Dennis and Judy Shepard remain residents of Wyoming and have dedicated themselves to fight discrimination in the name of their son. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck talked to them about a number of topics including what it was like to return to Laramie.

Jewlicious

At the Matthew Shepard Symposium hosted last week at the University of Wyoming, protesters gathered outside with signs denouncing the LGBTQ community. The group was from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, and nearly 20 years ago, they also picketed Matthew Shepard’s funeral.

But inside the symposium, a former Westboro Church member was preparing to speak. Megan Phelps-Roper was there to explain that when she started engaging in civil dialogue over Twitter, her entire worldview changed.

Casper College

On Tuesday, Casper became the latest community in Wyoming to pass a non-discrimination resolution for LGBT residents. The resolution passed Casper’s city council with a six to three vote.

It does not hold the same legal teeth as an ordinance, but Reverend Dee Lundberg said it’s a start. She is with Casper’s PFLAG group, an LGBT advocacy organization. During previous city council meetings, there was discussion of drafting another version of the resolution, one that would take out the specific references to LGBT people. Lundberg said she’s glad that version did not move forward.

Town of Thayne's website

A lawsuit against the town of Thayne accuses its Mayor and town council members of discriminating against a married gay couple because of their sexual orientation.

According to the lawsuit, Rusty and Marc Andrus bought “Rustlers Restaurant and Saloon” in 2015, and brought the building back up to the proper electrical and fire codes, and added restrooms, handicap accessibility, and a full commercial kitchen.

But when the couple approached the town of Thayne to get a liquor license, the suit says they were the focus of discrimination. 

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.

Darrah Perez

The holiday season can be tough for people grieving loved ones, but it can be especially difficult for those of the LGBTQ community.

Layha Spoonhunter is one of the Two-Spirit Leadership Circle members, an LGBTQ group on Wind River Reservation that recently gathered to honor those who have been killed because of their identity.

“I have seen changes through our community, but I haven’t seen them at the rapid rate I want to see,” said Spoonhunter.

sheridanwyoming.org

The Sheridan City Council passed a non-discrimination resolution, though it lacked any protections for or language referencing LGBT people.

The Williams Institute

Gays and lesbians in Wyoming can be discriminated against when it comes to employment and housing. Wyoming has a non-discrimination law, but it does not include sexual orientation or gender identity. According to a recent study by the Williams Institute at UCLA’s School of Law, that leaves more than 15,000 LGBT residents vulnerable.

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

Laramie will host its first pridefest this month.

Pridefest organizer Robert West said this is a momentous occasion for Laramie since the town became so well-known after the murder of Matthew Shepard.

Brian Harrington

In response to Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi’s comments earlier this week, many Wyomingites are planning to wear tutus to school, work, while running errands and to the bar Friday.  

While visiting middle and high school students in Greybull, Enzi was asked by a student about federal protections for LGBT people and what he has done to support Wyomingites.

Enzi replied with Wyoming’s live and let live mantra, but also said a man wearing a tutu to a bar shouldn’t be surprised when he gets into a fight because he’s asking for it.

Senator Mike Enzi (R)

Wyoming senator Mike Enzi is receiving heat from critics for a comment he made at Greybull High School. While speaking to middle and high school students there, Enzi was asked about federal protections of LGBT people and what he has done to support Wyoming’s LGBT community. 

Wikimedia Commons

The Associated Students of the University of Wyoming, or ASUW, will propose a resolution to the Student Senate to fly the rainbow LGBT pride flag on campus in June for Pride Month. 

Chris Ryan, director of governmental affairs at ASUW, said the authors of the resolution wanted to show support for the LGBT community in light of recent and historic events.

Brooklynn Gray

Hundreds of University of Wyoming students, faculty, and community members protested the outcome of last week’s election with a Solidarity Walk Out Monday.

Reports of discrimination and harassment of minorities have increased across the U.S. in recent days. The solidarity walk, which started at the Wyoming Union before heading downtown and back, was meant to show support for LGBTQ individuals, Muslims, immigrants and other marginalized groups.

Human Rights Campaign

Wyoming’s cities rank below the national average in protections for LGBTQ residents, according to new ratings from the Human Rights Campaign.  

The group scored hundreds of cities across the nation in their Municipal Equality Index, giving points for non-discrimination laws, transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits and other policies.

Despite the low ratings, Sarah Burlingame of the advocacy group Wyoming Equality says there is growing support for LGBTQ rights around the state.

Wyoming Equality Facebook Page

On Monday, Douglas became the most recent Wyoming town to pass a non-discrimination resolution to support LGBT people. That same night, a similar resolution passed its first reading at the Cheyenne City Council meeting.

Non-discrimination resolutions hold no real legal power. Instead, they are designed to encourage the Wyoming Legislature to pass a non-discrimination state law. Wyoming Equality spokeswoman Sara Burlingame said a state law would hold legal power and would protect LGBT people in Wyoming from discrimination in matters of housing, employment, and accommodations.

Wyoming Equality

On Tuesday, the Gillette City Council adopted a non-discrimination resolution in support of greater equality for the LGBT community. The resolution has no real legal power but is designed to encourage the Wyoming Legislature to take action.

Wyoming Equality spokeswoman Sara Burlingame said there was only one dissenting vote and, during the meeting, no one voiced opposition.

Wyoming Equality

Wyoming’s largest LGBT organization, Wyoming Equality, has elected John King as their new Board Chairman. King has been asked to revitalize the organization, since it is currently facing fundraising and membership challenges.

Same-sex marriage became legal in Wyoming in October 2014 and King said since then, support for the organization has declined. King said he believes that is because of the misconception that marriage equality means complete equal rights for the LGBT community in Wyoming.

The Modern West 15: Out In The West

Sep 19, 2016
Aaron Schrank

How equal is the “Equality State?” This month’s show explores progress and problems for Wyoming’s LGBT citizens.

M&R Glasgow, Flickr Creative Commons

 

In the wake of the tragic slayings in Orlando last weekend, gun-control unexpectedly dominated Congress this week.

For Democrats the slaughter of 49 people at the Orlando LGBT club was the last straw and they’re calling for overhauling the nation’s lax gun laws. On Monday, the House dedicated a moment of silence to the victims, and Connecticut Congressman Jim Himes and a few other Democrats walked out of the chamber.

Flicker Creative Commons, by L.C. Nøttaasen

After Sunday’s mass shooting at the gay nightclub PULSE in Orlando, cities and towns around Wyoming are holding vigils to honor the victims.

Candlelight vigils are set to take place at the United Church of Christ in Casper at 8:30 tonight, in Laramie at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, and in the Cheyenne Depot Plaza Thursday at 7 p.m.

June is Pride Month, and celebrations had already been planned around the state. Jeran Artery, chairman of Wyoming Equality, said he knows people are scared, but that they should not give in to fear.  

Jennifer Becker

At a recent school board meeting, Laramie High School senior Rihanna Kelver showed up to tonight’s school board meeting with a call to action.

“I am asking that the Board take initiative now to protect these students,” Kelver says. “As soon as we lose a student by the 50 percent rate suicide that transgender youth face, the blood will be on our hands.”

Wikipedia Commons

The Shepard Symposium on Social Justice celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. One of the keynote speakers for the event is Masha Gessen, a Russian-American journalist, author, frequent contributor to the New York Times and New Yorker, and LGBT activist. She joined Wyoming Public Radio's Caroline Ballard for a conversation about Russia's anti-gay campaign and LGBT refugees finding new lives in the United States.

Matthew Shepard Foundation

Family members and law enforcement in Gillette fear that the bullying of a gay man in Gillette may have led to a suicide. The issue has once again drawn concern about a variety of issues, including the treatment of LGBT people in the state and whether a hate crime is needed. Jason Marsden is the Executive Director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation and we caught up with him this week as he spoke in Gillette. 

Matthew Shepard Foundation

The apparent suicide of a 20-year-old Gillette man came after he was bullied for being gay. The family of Trevor O’Brien says his car was vandalized in December and police confirm that an anti-gay slur was painted on his car. 

The fact that these types of incidents continue to occur in Wyoming depresses Jason Marsden. He’s the Executive Director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation—and  says it’s time for Wyoming to reconsider a hate crime law.

AARON SCHRANK/WPR

The Albany County School District #1 Board is considering a policy meant to protect the rights of transgender students. The Board has drafted two different proposals to that end.

Both policies would do many of the same things—like require school district staff to address students by the name and pronoun consistent with the gender identity they express at school.

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