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.
The couple was eventually granted a license, but the suit says during city council debate, council members arbitrarily threatened to increase the fee from about $1,000 to over $10,000, or the maximum fee permitted by law.
The suit says the council told the couple their business would be closely monitored and their liquor license would be revoked if at any point Mayor DeLand Lainhart or a council member came into the restaurant and their grill was not turned on. In Wyoming, there is no law that requires restaurants to have their grill on during all hours of operation.
According to the suit, Rustler’s liquor renewal fee was recently increased by 100 percent, while the fee for other restaurants in the area remained the same. They say this was done to discriminate against them.
The City of Thayne declined Wyoming Public Radio’s request for an interview. The suit was filed in Wyoming’s U.S. District Court.