City Council Members Might Consider Anti-Gay Discrimination Ordinance
An anti-discrimination ordinance for lesbian, gay bisexual and transgendered people has not been on the radar for the Casper City Council.
But several council members said they would be open to discussing it.
Meanwhile, the council needs to get through time-consuming process of setting the 2015-2016 city budget, Mayor Charlie Powell and other council members said.
"We watch events like this closely and its of course totally understandable that people would ask if this is something that would also be appropriate for Casper," Powell said. "So I suspect that we will at least talk about whether we should have a discussion in council once we get this more immediate work done."
Last week, the City of Laramie passed an ordinance to “prohibit discrimination of any person based upon his or her actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations…”
Two council members voted against it because a religious exemption amendment was not included in the ordinance. A religious exemption was brought forward on the second reading of the ordinance, but it failed to pass.
On a state-level, a similar law passed the Wyoming Senate but failed to pass the House during the last legislative session.
Many area residents supported the measure in part because Casper is the home of Matthew Shepard, the gay University of Wyoming student who was murdered in Laramie in October 1998, Powell said.
Council member Ray Pacheco said the recent action in Laramie caused him to think about considering an anti-discrimination ordinance, but not until after the budget hearings, he said. "That may be something that may be brought up down the road, but right now I don't see that."
Pacheco hasn't heard of any discrimination problems here, he said.
"I have never come across that," Pacheco said. "I'm not saying that's not happened, but I personally have never come across where somebody has said to me, 'You know what, I think I'm being discriminated against based upon my sexual orientation."
Pacheco and Powell compared a possible anti-discrimination ordinance to the local legal wranglings over the anti-smoking ban, which is before the Wyoming Supreme Court.
Both issues involved conflicts about rights, they said.
"You get into the rights of business owners to run their businesses as they see fit versus the rights of citizens to have full access and to not have their options limited unfairly, Powell said. "Both of those arguments have validity, and that's why this happens in the political arena and of course has to happen in a very public way to see what the community wants."