Laramie passes LGBT protection laws – 17 years after the death of Matthew Shepard

Naith Payton May 14, 2015
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The city council in Laramie, where Matthew Sheppard was murdered, have voted to introduce LGBT protection laws.

In 1998, the 21 year old gay student was tortured and left for dead near Laramie, Wyoming. His death shocked America, and lead to a push for hate crimes legislation.

Now, 17 years later, the city of Laramie has passed a local ordinance granting employment and housing protection for LGBT people, as well as protection from discrimination in the provision goods and services. It is part of a long battle for such protections across Wyoming – and campaigners are saying this is an important first step in securing their goal.

Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mother and long time LGBT advocate, said: “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.

“Maybe the rest of Wyoming will understand this is about fellow human beings and not something that’s other than what they are.”

Last October, Laramie celebrated its first same-sex marriages.

Republican politician Kendell Kroeker, who voted against LGBT protections at a state level, and believes they grant LGBT people “special privileges” said: “I suppose it’s their right as a city.

“The Matt Shepard case was a tragedy, but I don’t see how an anti-discrimination ordinance would have stopped somebody from committing that heinous crime.”

Laramie mayor Dave Paulekas said: “To me, this is about treating people fairly, it’s about treating people the way I would want to be treated, the way we all expect to be treated, and it’s nothing more than that.”

More: Laramie, Matthew Shepard, US, Wyoming

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