Metro Weekly

Laramie passes nondiscrimination laws 17 years after Matthew Shepard’s death

“What a day for Wyoming, and what a day for the city that became synonymous with Matthew Shepard’s murder to now step up and do this right thing.”

Matthew Shepard

–Jeran Artery, head of Wyoming Equality, speaking with the Associated Press after Laramie City Council approved a law designed to protect LGBT citizens from discrimination.

Laramie gained notoriety in 1998 when Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student, was beaten, tortured and left to die near the city in a vicious, homophobic attack. In the wake of Shepard’s death, hate-crime legislation gained widespread media attention, culminating in the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, which extended federal hate-crime laws to cover LGBT people and disabilities.

Shepard’s mother, Judy, founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation, a LGBT nonprofit. She stated that, while she was “thrilled” that Laramie had introduced the law, she was “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.”

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at

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