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.


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.

Pocatello, Idaho, and Laramie, Wyo., might not be the first places you think of leading the charge to protect the LGBT community from discrimination. But in these rural, Republican-led states, local governments are taking the matter into their own hands.

Twenty-year-old college student CylieAnn Erickson was in the room when the city council in Laramie passed its LGBT anti-discrimination bill earlier this year. She says that when the final vote was counted, she breathed a sigh of relief.

Gregory Hinton

Wyoming certainly has its place in LGBT history. Now, it will serve as a place where LGBT history in the West can be chronicled, as well. 

The University of Wyoming's American Heritage Center has a new archive "Out West In The Rockies," which spotlights LGBT history in the American West.

Wyoming Public Radio's Caroline Ballard sat down with the co-creator of the archive, Gregory Hinton, who spent his childhood in Wyoming and Montana. Hinton will be speaking about the archive and his own experience growing up in the West at the Sheridan Fulmer Library at 6:30pm Wednesday.

American Heritage Center

The co-creator of the American Heritage Center’s newest archive will visit Sheridan’s library.

Gregory Hinton is an author and filmmaker. He will be speaking about the archive “Out West In The Rockies,” which is focused on the experiences of LGBT people in the American West. Hinton says it’s important that the history of LGBT people be accepted as a part of American and Western history, and he says the archive at the American Heritage Center is a good first step.

Now that the Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriage, conservatives in Congress, including Wyoming Republicans, are debating how to protect religious groups who disagree with the ruling.

Many congressional conservatives fear the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling will force religious people and institutions to do things against their faith. Wyoming Senator John Barrasso said some are worried about the ruling.

“I think any people of faith always have concerns about anything that comes out that interferes with their belief, religion, and their faith.” 

Alliance for Historic Wyoming via Flickr Creative Commons

Officials at Albany County School District One are considering a new policy to protect and support transgender and gender nonconforming students.

The proposed policy would prevent schools in Laramie and surrounding areas from requiring students to use restrooms or play on sports teams that conflict with the gender identity they express at school.

District assistant superintendent Mike Hamel says the policy lays a broad framework for supporting and protecting transgender students on a case-by case basis, stressing privacy.

Aaron Schrank

Ryan Reed loves rodeo. And each July, he makes a pilgrimage here, to the so-called “Daddy of ‘Em All” in Cheyenne.

“You just feel like you’re on hallowed ground when you’re here.” Reed says.

Roaming the Frontier Days midway, this amateur steer wrestler and calf roper is like a kid in a candy store. 

“Yesterday, during the bareback bronc, I actually got some dirt flung on me,” says Reed. “I really felt like I’d been hit by some special dirt or something. That’s just kind of the feeling I have about the place.”

The town of Jackson is weighing whether to extend legal protections against discrimination in employment and housing to LGBT people.

Jackson already has an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance that covers public employees, but this policy change would extend that coverage to all Jackson residents. Mayor Sara Flitner says the proposal is modeled after the anti-discrimination measure Laramie recently passed.

The U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal nationwide Friday.

That decision means lawmakers in states like Wyoming would have a much harder time challenging the practice.

Same-sex marriage became legal in Wyoming back in October, when the 10th Circuit Court ruled it had no other choice.

Same-sex marriage is now constitutionally guaranteed, here in Wyoming and nationwide.

That’s from Friday’s historic ruling by the Supreme Court.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Wyoming since October, following a ruling by the 10th Circuit court in Denver.

But this high court decision means there is no longer any question of whether it will be permanent.

The fate of Wyoming’s same-sex couples could be thrown into a legal limbo if the U.S. Supreme Court rules there is no constitutional right to gay marriage.

The Court is expected to issue a long-awaited ruling on gay marriage by early July at the latest, and most legal experts think they will find it is constitutionally guaranteed.

But if the courts find it is not, states like Wyoming that previously did not allow gay marriage may take steps to ban it once again. University of Wyoming law professor Stephen Feldman says legally, it's unknown territory.  

American Heritage Center

The American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming is looking for submissions to its newest archive: “Out West in the Rockies,” which is chronicling the experiences of lesbian, gay bisexual, and transgendered people in the American West.

Rick Ewig is the Associate Director at the American Heritage Center. He says there are other archival institutions with a focus on LGBT people in other parts of the country.

Aaron Schrank


Laramie made history last night when the city council passed Wyoming’s first broad ordinance banning discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.


The ordinance, which passed by a vote of 7-2,  covers public or private employment, housing, and public accommodations like bars or restaurants. The town of Jackson also has an LGBT anti discrimination ordinance on the books, but it only covers public employees.


Denver Gay Men's Chorus

On May 10th, the Wyoming premiere of I Am Harvey Milk debuts in Laramie. Created by composer Andrew Lippa, it’s part theater, part choral piece, and it all tells the story of Harvey Milk, the first gay and out non-incumbent politician in the U.S. He was assassinated in 1978, just months after taking office as a city supervisor in San Francisco. James Knapp is the artistic director of the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus, and Out Loud, Colorado Springs Men’s Chorus, the two groups performing the piece. He joined Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard to talk a little about the show.

The Shepard Symposium on Social Justice is underway at the University of Wyoming and will be featuring several spotlight events the rest of this week. Two of the events this weekend are photography sessions for The Self Evident Truths Project. iO Tillett Wright is the founder of and photographer for the project, as well as an LGBT activist. She’s attempting to photograph 10,000 people in all 50 states who identify as anything other than 100% straight in hopes of showing Americans the diverse makeup of the LGBT community.

The Laramie City Council gave initial approval to a proposed ordinance that would add employment and housing protections for gay and lesbian residents.


This comes after a heavily backed and well funded statewide LGBT anti-discrimination bill died in the state legislature this year.


Photo Courtesy Wyoming Catholic College via Facebook

Wyoming Catholic College in Lander has decided not to offer federal grants and loans to its students. It says doing so could threaten the school’s religious liberties.

Last year, the small, 8-year-old college took its first step toward accreditation. The move meant credits earned at W-C-C could be transferred to other schools—and made it eligible for federal loan programs.

But the college’s Board of Director’s voted unanimously last month not to participate in those programs—known as Title IV.

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.


A board of former politicians, business leaders, and law enforcement is looking to push for employment protections for LGBT people in Wyoming.

Currently the state has no workplace protections for LGBT people, which means workers can be fired simply for being gay.

Former U.S. Senator Al Simpson is a member of the new board, put together by the advocacy group Compete Wyoming. He says he wants to emphasize this is not about gay marriage.