Laramie Passes Anti-Discrimination Law 17 Years After Matthew Shepard's Murder

Photo: MLADEN ANTONOV/Getty Images.
It's been 17 years since Matthew Shepard, a gay young man, was tortured and beaten to death in Laramie, Wyoming. This week, the Laramie City Council voted in favor of an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexuality or gender identification in housing, employment, and access to public facilities (including restaurants).

Shepard's tragic legacy has made him an icon in the gay rights movement. After his brutal killing, the city of Laramie became a universal symbol of the need for change, as did the entire state of Wyoming. Yet, despite consistent efforts to pass legislation protecting the LGBTQ community from discriminatory practices on a statewide level, none has passed. Though, in 2014, Wyoming's ban on same-sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional

"I'm thrilled that Laramie's doing it," said Judy Shepard, Matthew's mother who helped create a foundation in his name, focusing on equality issues. "At the same time, [I'm] sort of saddened that the state of Wyoming can't see fit to do that as well."

Passing the ordinance in Laramie is seen as a major step in the right direction. Said Jeran Artery, head of Wyoming Equality: "I would really encourage other communities across the state to follow Laramie's lead."

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