Anti-Discrimination Ordinances

Laura Weatherford celebrates following a special meeting addressing a city-wide anti-discrimination ordinance May 13, 2015, at City Hall in Laramie. Efforts to implement similar ordinances in other Wyoming communities have stalled. File, Star-Tribune

“It’s a shame,” said Sara Burlingame, Wyoming Equality’s education and outreach director.

Burlingame said she was disappointed because while Wyoming also performed poorly in last year’s HRC ranking. She believed at the time that there was significant momentum among local governments in passing anti-discrimination ordinances and taking other measures to increase LGBT friendliness.

The one outlier in the state was Laramie, which scored 49 points and passed an anti-discrimination ordinance covering sexual orientation two years ago. Cheyenne is considering a similar ordinance.

The Legislature defeated an anti-discrimination law barring discrimination based on sexual orientation two years ago amid fierce debate.

The scorecard, which HRC produced with the Equality Federation Institute, measured five categories to create its ranking: non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and the city’s relationship with the LGBT community.

Jackson, Laramie and Cheyenne all received points for municipal employment policies and relationship with the LGBT community, while Casper and Gillette received marks for municipal services and relationship with the community. Gillette also received points for law enforcement policies.

Casper specifically received points for an anti-bully policy in local schools and for city leadership’s “public position on LGBTQ equality.”

Mayor Kenyne Humphrey did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Casper special projects coordinator Jolene Martinez said that the city had received a questionnaire for the scorecard but had not replied.

“No one answered any of the questions,” Martinez said. “I don’t think there’s any malicious intent or anything that’s with that.”

She said that while Casper did not have specific public initiatives to serve the LGBT community, it focused on providing services to all residents regardless of sexual orientation.

Sheridan, which was the only city to score a flat zero in Wyoming, passed an anti-discrimination ordinance at a city council meeting on Monday. The council stripped the ordinance of language protecting sexual orientation and instead condemned discrimination against any city resident.

“What part of all does not include all?” council member Alex Lee said at the meeting, according to the Sheridan Press.

In a statement, HRC President Chad Griffin framed the ranking as a way for businesses to decide where to locate or hold conferences.

“CEOs know that in order to attract and retain the best employees, they must grow their companies in places that protect LGBTQ citizens from discrimination and actively open their doors to all communities,” Griffin said.

The same argument was made by advocates of the failed anti-discrimination bill in the Wyoming Legislature in 2015under the banner “Compete Wyoming.”

Burlingame also highlighted that concern. She said that some state lawmakers have cautioned that an anti-discrimination ordinance covering sexual orientation was unlikely to pass for several years due to the high levels of political polarization following last year’s presidential election. But in the meantime, Burlingame said that Wyoming is shooting itself in the foot.

“We are looking at an economic downturn, and we’re trying to attract jobs to Wyoming, and one of the easiest things we could do to say, ‘We’re open for business please come bring your workers and their families here, this is a great state to live in,’ is to pass anti-discrimination laws,” she said. “We know it works. We know employers are looking for it.”

Source: Scorecard: Wyoming cities have few protections, support, for LGBT residents | 307 POLITICS | trib.com