Wyoming Lawmakers Will Withdraw Government Non-Discrimination Act
A bill that has been criticized as one of the most anti-LGBT pieces of legislation in the country will be withdrawn from consideration in the Wyoming House of Representatives.
Rep. Cheri Steinmetz, Rep. Sue Wilson and Rep. Nathan Winters on Thursday announced plans to withdraw House Bill 135.
Sabrina King, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming, said the bill was "more aptly titled The Wyoming Government Discrimination Act," and would "legalize discrimination against same-sex couples and transgender people," making it "impossible for any branch or part of the government to enact or enforce local non-discrimination ordinances and federal protections for the LGBT community."
King went on to say the act "at it's core, says anyone with certain religious beliefs or moral convictions about marriage and gender identity can act on those beliefs and convictions to discriminate against LGBT people and same-sex couples."
She also said the act would have made Laramie's non-discrimination ordinance unenforceable, "and potentially even illegal."
In a statement, Steinmetz maintains that the bill "aimed to protect the peaceful exercise of religious beliefs and adherence to moral convictions for people of all faiths without diminishing the rights of any other group."
She adds that the bill was withdrawn "to give Wyoming citizens time for more thorough consideration."
"Equality and the protection of religious freedoms are not mutually exclusive," Winters said. "It is not a zero sum game. Discrimination is not what our faith or values teach us."
"We must find a balance among our laws, ensuring both our First Amendment right to practice and live our faith each day while practicing tolerance and respect for the rights of our fellow man," Winters added.
The three representatives "remain committed to safeguarding the free expression of religion with legislation that better accomplishes this goal," the statement reads.
"We all need to continue this important conversation," Wilson concluded.