LGBT

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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. 

Miles Bryan

Josh Kronberg-Rasner was the only openly gay person in his office while he worked for a food service company in Casper. But his sexual orientation never held him back, he says. "I had filled every position from general manager to executive chef," he says. "You name it, I'd done all of it."

That changed in the summer of 2012 when Kronberg-Rasner got a new manager, whom Kronberg-Rasner says was uncomfortable working with a gay person. A few weeks after he arrived, the manager went through Kronberg-Rasner's personal phone and found pictures of a male gymnast.

Miles Bryan

Same sex marriage is now legal in Wyoming, which means same sex couples now have access to all the legal rights that come with marriage. Even so, some disparities remain. For one, Wyoming lacks any legal protection for LGBT people in employment. That means gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the Cowboy State may be able to be legally married, but they may also be legally fired.

wyomingequality.org

Public opinion in Wyoming has radically shifted toward legalizing same sex marriage in the last decade.  Bills, both legalizing and banning, have been introduced in the state legislature. But nothing has passed.  And lawmakers are slow to acknowledge the shift in public opinion. But as Wyoming Public Radio’s Erin Jones reports, the legislature might not be where the change happens.

ERIN JONES: State Representative Matt Greene grew up without gay marriage on his mind.

Wyoming State Capitol

The State Senate defeated a bill that would have prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  It would have given gays and lesbians protections in the workplace.  Opponents said it could have led to unfair burdens on employers and infringe on religious freedoms.  Senator Chris Rothfuss says he’s sorry that the bill would be inconvenient for certain employers, but he added that was the point.  But Baggs Senator Larry Hicks says the legislation would do little.