The Laramie City Council on Wednesday approved a local anti-discrimination ordinance in the college town where Matthew Shepard's death triggered nationwide sympathy and brought a re-examination of attitudes toward gays 17 years ago. The council voted 7-2 in favor of the measure that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment and access to public facilities such as restaurants.
Local organizers focused their efforts on Laramie after the Legislature repeatedly rejected anti-discrimination bills, most recently early this year. The Laramie Nondiscrimination Task Force presented a draft ordinance to the City Council last summer. Jeran Artery, head of the group Wyoming Equality which has lobbied for the anti-discrimination measures at the state Legislature, said he was thrilled with the council vote.
Judy Shepard, Matt Shepard's mother, is active in a Denver-based foundation that bears her son's name and focuses on equality issues. "I'm thrilled that Laramie's doing it, at the same time sort of saddened that the state of Wyoming can't see fit to do that as well," Shepard told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Wednesday before the council vote from Washington, D.C. "Maybe the rest of Wyoming will understand this is about fellow human beings and not something that's other than what they are."