SESSION RECAP: For gay rights in Wyoming, nothing got better, but nothing got worse

March 24, 2017

Gay rights advocates helped stir up enough opposition to defeat two terrible bills during the legislative session that would have legally protected blatant discrimination against Wyoming’s LGBT population. However, a bill to protect gay workers from being fired or paid less for their sexual identity died.

The deservedly maligned House Bill 135 would have taken everything the “Equality State” is supposed to stand for and turned it on its head. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Cheri Steinmetz (R-Lingle), would have enabled state and local government workers to cite religious convictions in refusing to serve gay and transgender people. So, for instance, a county clerk could refuse to issue a wedding certificate to a same-sex couple, or an EMT could refuse to treat a transgender patient.


Legal experts advised Wyoming Equality, a LGBT advocacy organization, that HB-135 was one of the most restrictive of the so-called “religious freedom restoration bills” being considered by many conservative state legislatures. It was so outlandish that not only could a firefighter refuse to help an injured gay person, but that firefighter could also claim discrimination and sue the fire department if the firefighter’s boss tried to reprimand him/her for dereliction of duty.

The bill also would have protected private businesses that discriminate against LGBT folks. This type of discrimination is already legal in most of Wyoming—except for Laramie, which has a municipal nondiscrimination ordinance. HB-135 would have rendered Laramie’s ordinance obsolete.

The public outcry against HB-135 was cacophonous, making it so controversial that state leaders from the governor on down chastised its sponsors and those of other “social issue” bills for distracting the legislature from addressing the state’s real problems.

What constitution protects discrimination?

In the face of public outcry, Steinmetz withdrew her bill before the House Judiciary Committee could even consider it. She bizarrely said there was not enough time for the Legislature to weigh in on the matter, which made absolutely no sense given the timing of her decision.

Her explanation became even stranger. “The intention of this bill has always been to hold Wyoming to the highest standard in terms of equal protection under the law,” Steinmetz said in a statement (she refused to talk to reporters).  ”The religious freedoms guaranteed to each and every one of us are the bedrock on which our Constitution is founded. When these unalienable rights are threatened, so too is every other constitutional right we enjoy.”

If the highest standard of providing equal protection under the law is for the state to allow people to use their religious beliefs to discriminate against an entire class of people, Steinmetz must be reading a constitution from another country. What she claims is the polar opposite of true equal protection under the constitution we have in the United States.

Flushing bathroom bills down the toilet

As the drama around HB-135 unfolded and ended in the bill’s demise, the specter of another anti-LGBT bill loomed. In early January, Rep. Roy Edwards (R-Gillette) announced he would sponsor a bill that would govern which bathroom transgender people would be allowed to use. The news received a banner headline in the Casper Star-Tribune.

Much the same as a controversial law passed in North Carolina that prompted economically damaging boycotts of the state by businesses, organizations and governments, Edwards wanted to require people to use the bathroom, locker room or changing facility that corresponds to the gender listed on their birth certificate. But he admitted that he’s never heard of a situation in Wyoming related to the problem he was attempting to “fix.”

Edwards is afraid that without a state law, a man could enter the women’s public bathroom and spy on females using the facility. He believes people choose their sexual orientation. Like many self-styled culture warriors, Edwards turned to religion to explain why he is so focused on transgender people. “God will sort them out,” he said.

Ultimately Edwards decided not to sponsor his bathroom bill, but Rep. Lars Lone (R-Cheyenne) filed his own proposal. House Bill 244 would have charged someone with public indecency for using a public bathroom or changing facility designated for the opposite sex. Unlike Edwards’ proposal, HB-244 would even punish individuals whose birth certificate was amended to reflect their gender identity.

People convicted of using the wrong bathroom under Lone’s bill would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months imprisonment, a $750 fine or both. But after Governor Mead and Legislative leadership made it clear that they were squeamish about controversial bills, HB-244 was never brought to a vote in the House.

It’s still legal to fire employees for being gay

Enthusiasm for the defeat of HBs 135 and 244 was dampened by the failure of another bill that would have protected LGBT employees from being fired because of their sexual orientation.

Senate File 153, sponsored by Sen. Chris Rothfuss (D-Laramie), would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of classes protected from employment discrimination. The law currently prohibits employers from discriminating against workers based on age, sex, race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, pregnancy or disability.

However, an LGBT employee can be discriminated against in wages and hiring solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. For example, a worker who is married to someone of the same sex could be fired for simply displaying a wedding photo in the work area.

Rothfuss had sponsored a similar bill in 2015, but that bill also aimed to protect LGBT Wyomingites from housing discrimination. Rothfuss explained he dropped that provision from his latest proposal because he thought limiting its scope to employment might improve its chances. But it didn’t matter. This year the Senate killed the bill with a 13-17 vote.

Notably, six Senators from Wyoming cities that have shown official support for LGBT rights voted against SF-153. Although Laramie is the only municipality in the state with a legal nondiscrimination ordinance, places like Cheyenne, Gillette, Douglas, and Jackson have all passed resolutions affirming their stance against anti-LGBT discrimination. These senators seem to be sending mixed messages about where their constituents stand.

Victories came from organized resistance

The defeat of the two anti-LGBT bills was the result of concerted organizing, outreach, and the general public making their voices heard.

Sara Burlingame, education and community outreach coordinator for Wyoming Equality, was a leader in the campaigns against HBs 135 and 244.

“The Legislature listened to the thousands of voices of everyday people,” Burlingame said. “There was an unprecedented level of engagement [against this bill], led by gays, religious and business leaders. We had support from people we never expected to join us. It was a great coalition and we plan to keep it together and expand.”

Chessie Lee, director of the Wyoming Coalition of Churches, said the bill tried “to discriminate against the most vulnerable people in our society in the name of religious freedom.”

“Sometimes outrage can be easier to respond to”

Burlingame and others credited Sabrina King, executive director of the Wyoming ACLU chapter, with doing the research that helped determine how dangerous HB-135 would be if it was approved. While most LGBT advocates were focusing on passing SF-153, King advised them all to make a full-court press against Steinmetz’s bill. It was undeniably the right strategy.

However, an unexpected result of working so hard to block HB-135, Burlingame said, may have led to a lack of energy to pass SF-153, the bill to protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination.

“The House bill was so terrible it set off a lot of outrage,” she said. “Sometimes outrage can be easier to respond to, while something that’s positive is harder for people to rally around.”

Burlingame said Wyoming Equality’s next big challenge will be to try to get an LGBT non-discrimination ordinance passed in every city in the state. She added it would be difficult to obtain the two-thirds vote in both chambers to introduce another version of SF-153 during next year’s budget session, so supporters will probably wait until 2019 to try that route again.

Receive Better Wyoming communications in your email inbox by filling out the form on our homepage. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

SUGGESTED FOR YOU Senate committee kills a bill to allow new trials based on new evidence of innocence Let’s see what you remember from your high school civics class. One thing everyone agrees about is that if a person has been convicted of... In the face of intense public outcry, anti-LGBT bill’s sponsors pull it […]
105 replies
  1. minecraft
    minecraft says:

    You have made some decent points there. I checked on the net
    for more information about the issue and found
    most individuals will go along with your views on this web site.

  2. minecraft
    minecraft says:

    What i don’t realize is in reality how you are no longer
    actually much more neatly-preferred than you may be now.
    You are so intelligent. You already know therefore considerably in terms of this subject,
    made me individually consider it from a lot of varied angles.
    Its like women and men don’t seem to be involved unless it’s one
    thing to do with Lady gaga! Your individual stuffs nice. Always take care of
    it up!

  3. minecraft
    minecraft says:

    I all the time used to study paragraph in news papers but now as I am a
    user of web therefore from now I am using net for articles,
    thanks to web.

  4. minecraft
    minecraft says:

    hello!,I love your writing very so much! share we be in contact extra about your article on AOL?
    I need an expert on this space to resolve my problem.

    Maybe that is you! Having a look forward to peer you.

  5. minecraft free download 2018
    minecraft free download 2018 says:

    I’ve been exploring for a bit for any high-quality articles or
    blog posts on this kind of area . Exploring in Yahoo I ultimately stumbled
    upon this website. Studying this information So i am happy to express that I’ve a
    very just right uncanny feeling I came upon just what I needed.
    I most unquestionably will make certain to don?t fail to remember this
    website and provides it a glance regularly.

  6. minecraft free download 2018
    minecraft free download 2018 says:

    Hi, Neat post. There is a problem along with your web site
    in web explorer, might test this? IE still is the marketplace leader and a huge component of other folks will leave out your excellent writing due to this problem.

  7. Benefits of Coconut Oil
    Benefits of Coconut Oil says:

    Just desire to say your article is as astonishing. The clarity in your post is just spectacular and i could assume
    you are an expert on this subject. Fine with your
    permission let me to grab your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post.
    Thanks a million and please keep up the rewarding work.

  8. Coconut Oil
    Coconut Oil says:

    Everything is very open with a really clear explanation of the issues.
    It was definitely informative. Your website is extremely
    helpful. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Benefits of Coconut Oil
    Benefits of Coconut Oil says:

    Do you have a spam problem on this site; I also am a blogger, and I was
    wanting to know your situation; we have created some
    nice procedures and we are looking to trade solutions with other folks,
    be sure to shoot me an email if interested.

  10. Coconut Oil Benefits
    Coconut Oil Benefits says:

    You can certainly see your expertise in the work you write.

    The world hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to
    mention how they believe. Always follow your heart.

  11. Coconut Oil
    Coconut Oil says:

    Hi my loved one! I want to say that this article is amazing, nice written and come with almost all important infos.
    I would like to see more posts like this .

  12. Coconut Oil Benefits
    Coconut Oil Benefits says:

    Hello there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before
    but after going through a few of the articles I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyways, I’m certainly pleased I stumbled upon it
    and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!

  13. Benefits of Coconut Oil
    Benefits of Coconut Oil says:

    You really make it appear really easy together with your
    presentation but I find this topic to be actually one thing
    that I think I might never understand. It seems too complex and extremely large for me.

    I’m having a look ahead on your next post, I’ll attempt to get the cling of it!

  14. quest bars cheap
    quest bars cheap says:

    Usually I don’t learn post on blogs, however I wish to
    say that this write-up very pressured me
    to check out and do so! Your writing style has been amazed me.
    Thanks, very great post.

  15. quest bars
    quest bars says:

    Excellent items from you, man. I’ve take note your stuff prior
    to and you’re just too great. I really like what you’ve bought here,
    really like what you’re stating and the way in which by which you are saying it.
    You are making it enjoyable and you still take care of to stay it wise.
    I cant wait to read far more from you. That is really a tremendous website.

  16. What Equipment is Needed for Sling TV
    What Equipment is Needed for Sling TV says:

    Great blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little
    lost on everything. Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go
    for a paid option? There are so many options out there
    that I’m completely confused .. Any recommendations?
    Bless you!

  17. What Equipment is Needed for Sling TV
    What Equipment is Needed for Sling TV says:

    Greetings from Colorado! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to check out
    your website on my iphone during lunch break. I enjoy the knowledge you present
    here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m shocked at
    how fast your blog loaded on my phone .. I’m not even using WIFI,
    just 3G .. Anyhow, good site!

  18. Sling TV
    Sling TV says:

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I
    have truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts.
    In any case I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you
    write again soon!

  19. What Equipment is Needed for Sling TV
    What Equipment is Needed for Sling TV says:

    Greetings from Ohio! I’m bored to tears at work so I
    decided to check out your website on my iphone during lunch break.
    I really like the info you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
    I’m shocked at how fast your blog loaded on my cell phone ..
    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, great blog!

  20. Sara Detzler
    Sara Detzler says:

    Sweet blog! I found it while browsing on Yahoo News. Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thanks

  21. eebest8 best
    eebest8 best says:

    “Hi there, You have done a fantastic job. I’ll certainly digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I’m confident they’ll be benefited from this website.”

  22. tutuapp clash royale
    tutuapp clash royale says:

    I’ve been browsing online more than 3 hours nowadays, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty price sufficient for me. In my opinion, if all webmasters and bloggers made excellent content as you did, the web might be much more helpful than ever before.

  23. judi bola sbobet
    judi bola sbobet says:

    “Good – I should certainly pronounce, impressed with your web site. I had no trouble navigating through all tabs as well as related info ended up being truly easy to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it in the least. Quite unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or something, site theme. a tones way for your customer to communicate. Excellent task.”

  24. free ring of elysium hacks
    free ring of elysium hacks says:

    Wonderful items from you, man. I’ve remember your stuff prior to and you’re just too fantastic. I really like what you have obtained right here, certainly like what you are saying and the way during which you assert it. You make it enjoyable and you continue to care for to keep it wise. I can not wait to read much more from you. This is actually a wonderful site.

  25. mcent browser hack tool
    mcent browser hack tool says:

    When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get three e-mails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Thanks a lot!

  26. hydrargyrum 9.0
    hydrargyrum 9.0 says:

    Hiya, I’m really glad I have found this info. Today bloggers publish just about gossips and web and this is actually frustrating. A good web site with interesting content, that’s what I need. Thank you for keeping this web-site, I’ll be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Can not find it.

  27. minecraft
    minecraft says:

    Undeniably believe that which you stated. Your favorite justification seemed
    to be on the net the easiest thing to be aware of.
    I say to you, I definitely get irked while
    people consider worries that they just don’t know about.

    You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the
    whole thing without having side effect , people can take a signal.
    Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  28. Apex Legends DPS
    Apex Legends DPS says:

    I’m impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s equally educative and interesting, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is something which too few people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I found this in my search for something regarding this.

  29. minecraft
    minecraft says:

    Hi! I simply want to give you a huge thumbs up for the great info you have
    here on this post. I’ll be returning to your
    web site for more soon.

  30. minecraft
    minecraft says:

    When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added”
    checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several e-mails with the same
    comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?


  31. minecraft
    minecraft says:

    Thank you for every other wonderful post.
    Where else may just anybody get that type of information in such an ideal approach of writing?
    I’ve a presentation next week, and I am at the look for
    such info.

  32. Elva Naschke
    Elva Naschke says:

    Superb blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers? I’m planning to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m totally overwhelmed .. Any tips? Thanks a lot!

  33. Julianna Peete
    Julianna Peete says:

    We absolutely love your blog and find a lot of your post’s to be what precisely I’m looking for. can you offer guest writers to write content in your case? I wouldn’t mind creating a post or elaborating on a number of the subjects you write with regards to here. Again, awesome web site!

  34. says:

    Aw, this was an extremely good post. Finding the time and actual effort to make a top notch article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and don’t seem to get anything done.

  35. minecraft
    minecraft says:

    I don’t know whether it’s just me or if perhaps everyone else encountering problems with your website.
    It looks like some of the written text on your content are running off the screen. Can somebody else please
    provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to
    them as well? This may be a issue with my browser because I’ve had this happen before.

  36. says:

    Heya i am for the primary time here. I came across this board and I
    to find It really useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give one thing again and aid others
    like you aided me.

  37. minecraft
    minecraft says:

    You have made some really good points there. I checked on the web for more info
    about the issue and found most people will go along with your
    views on this website.

  38. minecraft
    minecraft says:

    This design is wicked! You obviously know how to keep a reader amused.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Fantastic job.

    I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!

  39. minecraft
    minecraft says:

    I’m really enjoying the theme/design of your web site. Do you ever run into any internet browser compatibility problems?
    A number of my blog audience have complained about my site not operating
    correctly in Explorer but looks great in Opera.
    Do you have any suggestions to help fix this issue?

  40. Tennille Landsaw
    Tennille Landsaw says:

    Hey, how’s it going?

    I want to pass along some very important news that everyone needs to hear!

    In December of 2017, Donald Trump made history by recognizing Jerusalem as the captial of Israel. Why is this big news? Because by this the Jewish people of Israel are now able to press forward in bringing about the Third Temple prophesied in the Bible.

    Jewish Rabbis have publicly announced that their Messiah will be revealed in the coming years who will be a leader and spiritual guide to all nations, gathering all religions under the worship of one God. They deny Jesus as their Messiah, and the Bible tells us this Jewish Messiah will be the counterfiet that will bring about a false peace, and ultimatley the great tribulation.

    They even printed a coin to raise money for the Temple with Donald Trumps face on the front and with king Cyrus'(who built the second Temple) behind him. On the back of the coin is an image of the third Temple.

    More importantly, the power that runs the world wants to put a RFID microchip in our body making us total slaves to them. This chip matches perfectly with the Mark of the Beast in the Bible, more specifically in Revelation 13:16-18:

    “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

    Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.”

    Referring to the last days, this could only be speaking of a cashless society, which we have yet to see, but are heading towards. Otherwise, we could still buy or sell without the mark amongst others if physical money was still currency. This Mark couldn’t be spiritual because the word references two different physical locations. If it was spiritual it would just say in the forehead. RFID microchip implant technology will be the future of a one world cashless society containing digital currency. It will be implanted in the right-hand or the forehead, and we cannot buy or sell without it! We must grow strong in Jesus. AT ALL COSTS, DO NOT TAKE IT!

    “Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:9-11).

    People have been saying the end is coming for many years, but we needed two key things. One, the Third Temple, and two, the technology for a cashless society to fulfill the prophecy of the Mark of the Beast.

    Visit http://WWW.BIBLEFREEDOM.COM to see proof for these things as well as proof that the Bible truly is the word of God!

    If you haven’t already, it is time to seek God with all your heart. Jesus loves you more than you could imagine. He wants to have a relationship with you and redeem you from your sins. Turn to Him and repent while there is still hope! God bless!

  41. minecraft
    minecraft says:

    you’re actually a just right webmaster. The site loading
    speed is amazing. It sort of feels that you’re doing any unique trick.
    Moreover, The contents are masterpiece. you have performed a fantastic job on this matter!

  42. minecraft
    minecraft says:

    My coder is trying to convince me to move to .net
    from PHP. I have always disliked the idea because of the costs.
    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using Movable-type on various
    websites for about a year and am anxious about switching to another platform.
    I have heard great things about Is there a way I can import
    all my wordpress posts into it? Any kind of help would be really appreciated!

  43. gamefly free trial
    gamefly free trial says:

    Hello there, I discovered your blog by the use of Google whilst looking for a comparable
    subject, your website came up, it seems to be good.
    I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

    Hi there, simply changed into aware of your blog thru Google, and located
    that it’s truly informative. I’m gonna watch out for brussels.
    I will appreciate if you continue this in future.

    Many people might be benefited out of your writing.

  44. gamefly
    gamefly says:

    hey there and thank you for your information – I’ve certainly picked up something new from right here.
    I did however expertise a few technical points using this site, since I
    experienced to reload the web site a lot of times previous to
    I could get it to load correctly. I had been wondering if your hosting
    is OK? Not that I’m complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will often affect
    your placement in google and could damage your quality score if ads and marketing with Adwords.

    Anyway I’m adding this RSS to my e-mail and could
    look out for a lot more of your respective interesting content.
    Make sure you update this again soon.

  45. g
    g says:

    hi!,I really like your writing very so much! share we keep up a correspondence extra about your
    article on AOL? I need a specialist on this area to solve my problem.

    Maybe that is you! Taking a look forward to look you.

  46. download minecraft
    download minecraft says:

    Howdy fantastic blog! Does running a blog like this require a lot of work?
    I’ve no knowledge of coding but I was hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyway,
    should you have any recommendations or tips for new blog owners please share.
    I understand this is off subject however I simply needed to ask.
    Many thanks!

  47. minecraft pc download
    minecraft pc download says:

    What’s Taking place i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I have found It positively useful and it has
    helped me out loads. I’m hoping to give a contribution & help different customers
    like its aided me. Great job.

  48. download minecraft free
    download minecraft free says:

    Hi there, I discovered your site by way of Google while searching for a comparable matter, your site
    got here up, it seems to be good. I have bookmarked it in my google
    Hello there, simply changed into aware of your blog thru Google,
    and located that it’s truly informative. I am going to watch out for brussels.
    I’ll be grateful should you proceed this in future.

    Many other folks will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  49. how to get help in windows 10
    how to get help in windows 10 says:

    Greetings! Quick question that’s entirely off topic.

    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My blog looks weird when browsing from my apple iphone.
    I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to
    correct this issue. If you have any suggestions, please share.
    Appreciate it!

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.