Wyoming LGBT advocates turn attention to statewide anti-discrimination law


CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Fresh off their victory to legalize same-sex marriages in Wyoming, advocates for gay rights are turning their attention to other state laws they say need to be changed.

“The work’s not over,” Jeran Artery, of Wyoming Equality, said.

wyomingA federal court last Friday struck down Wyoming’s law defining marriage as between a man and woman. Same-sex couples officially were allowed to begin getting married in the state on Tuesday.

Artery said amending the state’s anti-discrimination law to add sexual orientation is “the next thing on radar screen without a doubt.”

State law currently prohibits discrimination against someone based on age, sex, race, religion and other factors.

“There’s still currently no non-discrimination protection in place for the LGBT community,” Artery said. “So what we want to avoid is people getting married and putting a marriage picture on their desk and then they get fired because being gay in Wyoming is still unfortunately a perfectly legitimate reason to fire somebody.”

Proposals to add sexual orientation to the law have failed in previous legislative sessions.

Rep. Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie, has sponsored legislation in the past to advance gay rights.

Connolly said she is working to bring a new anti-discrimination bill to the 2015 legislative session and believes the prospects for success are better now that the state allows and recognizes same-sex marriage.

“Discrimination has no place in the state of Wyoming, and regrettably when it does happen we need to allow people access to the remedies and those remedies come through state statutes,” she said. “So we need to add to sexual orientation and gender identity to the state statutes so that when that discrimination takes place that those individuals have the ability to use our courts and to get remedies. And right now they’re not.”

Connolly said she’s also looking into whether other state laws related to gay rights, such as adoption, need to be changed.

Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander and chairman of the Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee, said he’s willing to listen and discuss possible changes related to gay rights issues.

“There’s a lot of education that’s going to happen now. I never thought this far. It came fast for me, too,” Case said. “But we’ll get through it, absolutely, and we’ll do the right thing.”

Other changes caused by the state’s new status on gay marriage don’t involve state law.

For instance, the state Department of Health quickly produced a new marriage license application form because the form that has been used for decades had “name of husband” and “name of wife” for applicants to fill out.

“The updated form doesn’t use husband or wife or make any reference to gender,” Jim McBride, deputy state registrar with the agency, said. “It was the only alternative we had short of making people use the traditional form and crossing out the words they didn’t like.”

The old form is still available, but the intention now is to have a single form once all the logistics are solved, McBride said.

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