Some in Wyoming see thaw on gay rights issues

The Billings Gazette
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January 28, 2013

For years, Democratic lawmakers in Wyoming have floated bills aimed at preventing discrimination against gays and lesbians but have found little support. Now, they seem to have gained some — among Republican lawmakers. It remains to be seen whether gay rights supporters in the overwhelmingly Republican Wyoming Legislature can pass measures that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, create civil unions or even gay marriage. So far, nine of the legislature's 78 Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors of the various bills. Eight of the Legislature's 12 Democrats are on board with at least one of the bills. Committee hearings on two of the bills were scheduled for Monday. For gay rights advocates, getting the support they already have received feels like a big moment. The state has a long tradition of libertarian-tinted conservatism, yet it's also where gay college student Matthew Shepard was killed more than a decade ago. "When I really started seeing who the sponsors were, I started having a big smile on my face," said the Rev. Dee Lundberg, a minister at the United Church of Christ in Casper, who married her partner in her church two years ago.