Shepard

State of contradictions: Wyoming 15 years after Matthew Shepard's death

2013-10-06T08:00:00Z 2013-11-02T11:59:06Z State of contradictions: Wyoming 15 years after Matthew Shepard's deathBy BENJAMIN STORROW Star-Tribune feature writer Casper Star-Tribune Online

LARAMIE — When Jim Osborn and Jesse Taylor got engaged, they went to the mountains. They posed for pictures beneath a rainbow-colored umbrella at the base of Medicine Bow Peak: two men kissing, each with a leg raised in the air behind them like a pair of Rockettes.

Two months later they were married under a red awning at the University of Wyoming campus. Around 200 of their family and friends attended. There were no clouds in the sky and the July day was warm.

It was, in Osborn’s recollection, “perfect.”

The years since have been less so. Sometimes they attract stares from other shoppers on trips to the grocery store. What are two men doing perusing the supermarket aisles holding hands, their eyes ask? Then it clicks, and the reactions aren’t always warm.

The supermarket shoppers are not the only ones to frown on Osborn and Taylor’s relationship. Wyoming does not recognize their marriage. In the state where they have always lived, the pair often feel like second-class citizens.

Osborn, who works at the university, cannot place Taylor on his health insurance, which Taylor lacks. They have to take extra legal steps to secure their assets and ensure they can care for each other in a medical emergency. They don’t even have the explicit legal right to become parents.

They find the last fact particularly galling. Osborn and Taylor spent three years trying to become parents. Last year, a friend agreed to be their surrogate mother and, in May, the couple welcomed Nessa Ruth Taylor home.

Taylor is Nessa’s biological father and legal guardian. Osborn, legally speaking, is nothing. He can’t put Nessa on his insurance, make decisions about her health and, if she were old enough, take her home from school. He’d need to fill out a permission slip to do that.

“The lack of legal recognition is downright terrifying,” Osborn said. “I worry about something going wrong. What happens if Jesse or Nessa gets sick? What if I can’t be there for them. What if I’m told I’m not her parent?”

Osborn and Taylor’s challenges are representative of the difficulties many gay Wyomingites face 15 years after gay UW student Matthew Shepard was murdered.

[Gallery: Matthew Shepard, A Look Back In Photos.]

National attitudes toward gay, lesbian and transgendered people have changed dramatically since then. In 1998, no state had legalized gay marriage and nearly 60 percent of the country opposed legal recognition of same-sex partnerships, according to the Pew Research Center.

Today, 13 states allow gay marriage, six provide some sort of domestic partnership, and the number of Americans who support gay marriage (50 percent) exceeds those who don’t (43 percent), according to Pew.

Wyoming, meanwhile, remains a state of contradictions. The Cowboy State has never adopted a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a relationship solely between a man and woman. But it is also one of five never to adopt hate-crime legislation that would provide LGBT people an extra layer of protection against harassment and discrimination.

Gay Wyomingites interviewed for this story said the state has become a more accepting place in the past 15 years. They nonetheless noted they could be fired from their jobs or denied housing on the basis of their sexuality. In both cases, they lack legal recourse.

“As far as rights, we’re nowhere. But as far as community awareness, there’s been a great improvement,” said the Rev. Dee Lundberg, the openly gay pastor of the United Church of Christ in Casper.

Osborn and Taylor’s case is instructive. In the coming months, the pair will go to court and attempt what is often called a “second parent adoption.” Essentially, they are seeking to have Osborn named Nessa’s legal guardian alongside Taylor.

Wyoming has no laws explicitly prohibiting an adoption by a gay couple, but gay couples aren’t afforded any explicit rights in the process. The outcome of their petition will largely hinge on the presiding judge’s view of gay parenthood.

“One judge here may say ‘absolutely,’” Taylor said, “One might say ‘I don’t think so.’”

Taylor and Osborn were seated in their Laramie living room, contemplating their situation. Nessa swung in a rocking chair nearby, playing with a series of plastic toys dangling before her. The walls of their living room were filled with photos of the young child: Nessa sleeping on Grandpa Taylor’s belly; Nessa being held by Grandpa Osborn; Nessa, by herself, sandwiched between pictures of Osborn and Taylor, each with frames reading, “Dad.”

“It’s almost like I have to have the approval of other people to be a real husband, a real father,” Osborn said. “I wish people asked themselves sometimes, ‘What if someone told me you can’t be a good parent because you’re Methodist. What if someone told me, you can’t be a good husband because you’re Asian?’ That’s what it’s like.”

Wyoming is more accepting of LGBT people than outsiders believe, many said. Guy Padgett served as Casper’s openly gay mayor between 2005 and 2006. State Rep. Cathy Connolly, a Laramie Democrat elected in 2009, is the first openly gay lawmaker to serve in the Wyoming Legislature.

“Wyoming is conservative, but what people don’t get is there is such a strong mentality of live and let live,” said Jeran Artery, a gay man and chairman of Wyoming Equality, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of LGBT people in the state.

Census figures show the number of same-sex couples increasing. In 2010, the state had 657 same-sex couples, a 74 percent increase over the 378 reported in 2000.

“We’re not having gay pride parades, but we’re definitely present,” Lundberg said. “We’re your co-workers, your nieces, your nephews, your friends.”

This year, an anti-discrimination bill and a domestic partnership bill cleared legislative committees in the Senate and House respectively. Both were eventually defeated, but gay rights advocates saw progress nonetheless. It was a welcome change from previous years, they said, when legislators debated a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a relationship between man and woman.

“I do see real forward movement,” said Connolly, the author of the domestic partnership bill.

Artery described the state’s progress in personal terms. In 1998, when Shepard was killed, he was living in his hometown of Wheatland, the nephew of a preacher who frequently laced his sermons with teachings that homosexuality was a sin. Artery was still in the closet then, having spent much of his life feeling like he was a person in need of fixing.

He married a woman and hoped his feelings about men would disappear. They were together for 16 years and had a daughter. The feelings remained. He wanted to come out, but he feared losing his family and friends. Shepard’s death only deepened his apprehension.

“Hearing that story made me feel like I couldn’t come out,” Artery said. “It made me terrified.”

Today, Artery’s partner is leaving Denver to join him in Cheyenne, much to the consternation of the couple’s friends in the Mile High City. Why would two gay people choose to live in a state that has the reputation of being an unaccepting place, they wonder.

Artery, who works for New York Life, is quick to defend Wyoming. He does not fear harassment. His family and friends in Wheatland and Cheyenne are supportive, though he has not talked to his uncle since he came out.

“I love Wyoming,” he said. “I have been a financial adviser for almost 20 years. I have built a business here. I have clients across the state. This is my home. “

That doesn’t mean the Cowboy State is necessarily an easy place for a gay person to live. Connolly said Wyoming is less accepting of LGBT people than states with marriage equality. She was recently on the subway in New York City, where she saw a young gay couple cuddling in their seats.

“Nobody cared,” she said. “That was nice. That was very nice.”

In 2012, Wyoming had the highest suicide rate in the country; 165 people took their own lives, according to the Wyoming Department of Health. A significant number of them were gay, said Lundberg, who serves on the Natrona County Suicide Prevention Task Force. She described their deaths as “kind of a quiet thing.” Members of the gay community often know the person was gay, but their families do not, she said. It’s a secret she keeps after the person has died, feeling it is not her story to tell.

“It’s that isolation that is so dangerous,” Lundberg said.

The gray areas in Wyoming law are a burden for LBGT people, Connolly said. She cited Osborn and Taylor’s adoption case as an example.

Wyoming law requires adoptions be decided on the child’s best interests. Osborn and Taylor’s petition is different because it won’t change where their daughter lives, she said. Nessa lives at the couple’s home and will continue to do so. The issue is whether the legal recognition of Osborn as her parent is in Nessa’s best interest.

Connolly believes it’s a cut-and-dried case. Nessa lives in a loving environment, cared for by two doting parents. But there are no legal guarantees.

“It’s way too messy,” she said. “It’s way, way too messy.”

Osborn and Taylor are leaving little to chance. They replaced the carpet flooring downstairs with wood laminate lest it present any sort of health concern. They put Nessa on a nutrition plan designed by their pediatrician. And they have spent considerable time and money to make sure their legal documents are in order. They had papers drawn up outlining who among their family would care for Nessa if Taylor and Osborn both died, for instance.

“We want to make sure we get absolutely everything right so when we get into the courts for adoption there’s nothing anybody can point to and say what about this — that there are no excuses,” Osborn said. “If they’re going to turn us down, it’s going to have to be blatantly because we’re gay. Not because we’re bad parents.”

Both acknowledged that life might be easier if they moved to a state with laws more accommodating of gay couples. But like Artery, they don’t want to move.

Osborn, 38, is from Wright. Taylor, 34, is from Kaycee. Their families homesteaded in Wyoming when it was still a territory, and their relatives remain in the state today. Their careers are here: Osborn works in UW’s Office of Diversity, Taylor manages the Library Sports Grille and Brewery. They like that they can be in the middle of nowhere after a 20-minute drive.

“We stay for the same reason everyone else stays,” Osborn said. “It’s a great place to raise a family.”

Wyoming was the first state to give women the right to vote in 1869, he noted, a move that lent it the nickname “The Equality State.” One day, Osborn hopes Wyoming will live up to that name and pass same-sex marriage. One day, he hopes Wyoming will be known as more than the place Matthew Shepard was murdered.

Reach Benjamin Storrow at 307-266-0535 or benjamin.storrow@trib.com. Follow him on Twitter @bstorrow

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(36) Comments

  1. Colin
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    Colin - October 16, 2013 7:07 pm
    Good point about Meg Lankers. Because straight people are OF COURSE always honest, truthful and forthright and NEVER would imagine making up stories to gain themselves sympathy or advantage. You're using the same tired strategy of focusing on a few "bad apples" to stereotype an entire group. So by your logic, I get to use KKK and Westboro Baptist Church members and anti-abortion terrorists to stereotype all Christians. Is that OK?

    But I agree with you about being careless with the word "hate." I agree that too many LGBT folks and their supporters use this word unfairly to characterize their opponents. But how is this relevant to the key issues of this story involving tolerance and equal treatment under the law?. I don't care how you want to characterize your negative feelings/attitudes towards LGBT people...hate...dislike...disapproval...curiosity (?!)...but whatever it is...you don't get to make your attitude/perception the law. The fact that I don't "hate" Christians but merely don't "approve" of them etc. etc. certainly gives me no right to legally discriminate against them. So fair point about language, but don't let it distract us from the main issues here...
  2. Colin
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    Colin - October 16, 2013 6:59 pm
    You've been watching too much Fox News and Mike Huckabee. Serious people will research this law (School Success and Opportunity Act) and see for themselves what it protects and what it does not...your description is inaccurate.

    And you're using a transgender law/issue to respond to a comment about same-sex marriage. So you're either deliberately confusing the two or you have educated yourself about the differences. One might well oppose this CA law (or parts of it), but what on earth does that have to do with treating gay adults equally under our laws?
  3. Kool Kat
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    Kool Kat - October 14, 2013 8:06 am
    Ok Karl, you've taken the Pope out of context cause the media (purposely) has as usual to sell headlines. The Pope was asked {somewhat in context} if the homosexual community should be condemned for their lifestyle as verses the heterosexual.
    The Pope replied; {paraphrasing} in the end Judgement is God's not mine, so I can't judge. In turn the media then, twisted these words to say "its ok to be gay" cause the Pope of God says so. Therefore making a news report different than the Pope's reply aren't God's words but, a media driven agenda for added strife in a strife filled nation as in the USA.
    They (the media) have to sell their magazines, news papers and TV ads by getting people's attention anyway they can - even if the have to Dan Rather a story.

    The only reason I'm responding to you is, I'm a Wyomingite as well, being called names unjustifiably by an apparent activist.
  4. Kool Kat
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    Kool Kat - October 14, 2013 7:47 am
    I hear you.
  5. IdrahaJe
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    IdrahaJe - October 13, 2013 9:50 pm
    Kat,

    Please show Jim the same benefit of the doubt that he has us. As far as intefrity goes, he's lifetimes ahead of leg manker
  6. IdrahaJe
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    IdrahaJe - October 13, 2013 9:48 pm
    yes, it will, here's how. Do you have kids, maybe a daughter, or granddaughter? Of a son, or grandson? Picture that child in the following scenario:

    CA just passed a law that says ANY student that is in K-12, that feels like they are the opposite sex, or wants to be the opposite sex, is permitted to use the opposite sexes bathrooms, locker rooms, etc.

    I promise you, the 1st time your loved one comes home upset because they saw someone in their bathroom that clearly didn't belong there, you'll be really unhappy. (if you say so what? you are either ignorant, or wishful thinking.

    any kid knows what a boy or girl is, and trying to tell them that a boy is a girl, or the opposite, won't work for very long. Kids aren't stupid.
  7. IdrahaJe
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    IdrahaJe - October 13, 2013 9:42 pm
    lethal myth? Are you living in any sort of reality of any kind at any time?

    You better hope that the myth continues, because without it, you don't exist......
  8. IdrahaJe
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    IdrahaJe - October 13, 2013 9:37 pm
    Just one question there Karl,

    In all of your attempts to say what the Bible clearly does NOT say, aren't you judging others, as well? You use a lot of good sounding words, but in the middle of your anger laced rant, you lose the message. If the Bible says do not judge, then why are you judging others?

    You might wanna lay off the bully talk. When you start telling others how to think, and then threaten them by telling them "So, keep it up, Wyoming, you'll get yours"....along with name calling and shouting, you qualify under the heading of Bully as well.
  9. karlagolay
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    karlagolay - October 13, 2013 7:50 am
    This state, from border to border is packed full of

    1. Rednecks
    2. Rubes
    3. Bigots
    4. Bullys

    They are everywhere and I'll have you all know THIS. God sees it whether you believe in Him or not. He sees you judging people who are different, making their lives miserable, ostracizing them, 'murdering them and it all really amounts to 'none of your business'.. With what judgment you judge it shall be judged to you again and with what measure you mete shall be measured back to you again....that's Bible. So, keep it up, Wyoming, you'll get yours, one bigot at a time. ( Pope Francis has said ," I can't judge these people". If they are seeking the Lord and looking to escape from sin, who am I to judge them"? ).....so there it IS, Wyoming......KNOCK IT OFF ! ... and go get a life.
  10. Colin
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    Colin - October 10, 2013 10:17 am
    Well that's an interesting idea (taking government totally out of marriage), but I'm doubtful that will happen any time soon. In the mean time, marriage between consenting adults should be offered and applied equally, without discrimination.

    And I'll save someone the post. Does this mean you can marry a child? No. Re-read that line about consenting ADULTS :) Does this mean you could have plural marriages? As far as I'm concerned...you bet. Go read some the "feminist" LDS justifications for plural marriages in the 1800s... If you prefer that arrangement and you're consenting adults, go for it. Does this mean you can marry your adult cousin/sister/etc.? That's a closer question...incest taboos and the like all sorts of complications we can have separate discussions/debates about. But that closer question shouldn't deny LGBT folks the obvious right to equal treatment under the marriage laws right now.

    As for your later comment about forcing people to violate their religious beliefs, etc. (which for some reason I can't specifically reply to), let's be very clear. Are you saying that a Christian or Muslim could use their Bible or Quran to deny a cake (or housing, or employment) to someone based on their race, because their "religious beliefs" teach that the different races should not mingle? Can an American Muslim choose not to rent or hire a Christian based on her "religious beliefs"--or vice versa?
  11. BigGayJim
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    BigGayJim - October 08, 2013 3:36 pm
    WyoJeff, there's a difference between an individual right to freedom to practice your religion and the rights of a business that serves the public. A business owner can't legally say "my religion says being in an interracial marriage is bad, so I'm not going to rent you a hotel room/bake your cake." That's discrimination. We wouldn't allow a business to discriminate against a customer's religion either. It would be illegal for someone to say "I'm a Jewish baker and I'm not going to make cakes for Methodist weddings." When you open a business, you're not acting as an individual; you are now publicly providing goods and services. A person has a right to their religion; a public business doesn't.
  12. WyoJeff
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    WyoJeff - October 08, 2013 2:20 pm
    That sounds good until you get to the point where we are now. Now gay people are forcing bakers to bake cakes for their weddings even though it violates the bakers religious beliefs. We are at a spot where individual rights cross into each other. The same thing is happening to those that take photos of the weddings. So in a way, we are forcing some people to endorse gay marriage.
  13. WyomingLiberal
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    WyomingLiberal - October 08, 2013 1:38 pm
    Isn't "legalizing" gay marriage passing a civil or criminal law that everyone must follow? If the government is the people, are you not forcing some of those people to endorse gay marriage against their conscience. Isn't the real problem the fact that we need a permission slip from the government to get married in the first place? The problem vanishes when you take government out of the bedroom and the family.
  14. Colin
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    Colin - October 08, 2013 9:41 am
    "Kris Vallotton out of Redding, CA (KVMinistries.com) provides some much needed balance without compromising truth."

    What you Kris, and others believe in terms of religious "truth" is interesting, and the First Amendment obviously protects your right to believe it and practice it however you choose. What you and your church believe/practice in terms of sex, relationships, marriage, etc. is up to you. But when you and others use that belief to pass civil or criminal laws that EVERYONE must follow, regardless of whether they share your beliefs, that's where we (and for that matter the First Amendment) draw the line.

    Funny how so many folks go apoplectic at any real or imagined example of "Sharia law" being "imposed" here in the US, but in the next breath find no problem imposing their own Christian religious views/agenda on everyone. If you're a non-Christian trying to do this you'll surely get a stern lecture about the separation of church and state, etc. But if it's Christian doctrine or dogma...well then...that's a different matter.

    Let's rewind a bit and remember a time when some Christians interpreted their Bibles (e.g. Curse of Ham, slaves obey your masters, etc.) to justify racism, slavery and segregation against African-Americans. Now of course plenty of Christians rejected those views and in fact justified the abolition of these practices based on different Biblical interpretations and Christian teachings. Like all belief systems, Christianity has plenty to be proud of and plenty to be ashamed of.

    But the point is that there was a significant number of Christians who justified their racism, slavery and segregation based on Christianity. Although it took far too long, American society eventually decided that these practices were unjustifiable, whether they were grounded in Christianity or not. Christians could not stand up and insist that because their defense of slavery or segregation was based on their "religion," others in society were guilty of "intolerance" by prohibiting them and "respecting" their religious views and values.

    Similarly today with LGBT issues. You do not get to use the Bible as a justification of bigotry and discrimination, or as a shield to deflect criticism of such discrimination . Who you marry and why in terms of religious marriage is up to you. But you do not get the right to monopolize the civil law of Wyoming or anywhere else with your specific religion's definition of marriage. Civil and religious marriage are two separate ideas and should not be confused.
  15. BigGayJim
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    BigGayJim - October 08, 2013 8:23 am
    Sorry if I wasn't clear enough, Kool Kat. Dave and Rob describe their own attitudes and actions at the time homophobic; that's their wording, not mine, though I don't disagree with their language choice in this case. Today, they are both dear friends, and I have always had dear friends in law enforcement. I also tried to be clear but will state it more succinctly: the police investigations RULED OUT drug involvement. You keep bringing up Meg Lanker. I'm not sure how my wanting the ability to legally marry and adopt is connected to filing false reports with law enforcement. Seems like apples and oranges to me, but maybe I'm just missing the link in your logic. Because the investigation didn't show a drug connection, it wasn't a part of the trials. It seems like you're quite convinced of the opposite, however, and since I'm not likely to change your mind with info from first-hand sources, I'll leave you to your beliefs. As my mother used to jokingly say, "Don't confuse me with facts; my mind's made up." No, I don't believe intolerance and hate are the same thing, though they often connected. When I speak of hate, I'm talking about loathing someone so much that you're willing to hit them in the head 18 times with the butt of a pistol, crushing the side of their skull in over an inch and a half. Maybe it's just me, but that's outright hatred and goes far beyond the pale of intolerance.
  16. Kool Kat
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    Kool Kat - October 07, 2013 8:50 pm
    Big Gay Jim, isn't intolerance, "hate"? Seems so to me.
    The intolerance you show towards law enforcement by calling them names like "homophobic" is just what I have been talking about. Your apparent twists in understanding something that does not exist, prove just how intolerant or hateful you really are towards the law.
    What happened that night - you or anyone else, except the murderers were there and (according to police reports) point towards drug relation. I will take the reports of law enforcement with this, just as the Meg Lanker lie and law break.
    I'm finished with hearing anything but, just what the trial and investigations had proven, "drug relation that included a murderer". I'd suggest either accepting that or, seek help.
  17. IdrahaJe
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    IdrahaJe - October 07, 2013 4:59 pm
    Wilderness,

    I see that you have taken the same class that Lanker took. The class titled "How to try to deceive others 101.". For some reason, you feel that you should be allowed to malign and attack someone because you do not like their opinion. Please, tell the rest of us just how full of a hate do you have to be to start accusing others of being something that they aren't?

    You have a lot of nerve. You might want to go look in the mirror before you start calling others hateful. Big Gay Jim is rational. He is perfectly capable of understanding that a disagreement of ideas is not hate.Wilderness, you do not have that ability.

    Your delusion even goes as far as to accuse others of being afraid of gays. You write this venom filled reply as if only gays have Elton John music, or only the lgbt community enjoys listening to Queen. I.am not afraid of gay people. I have gay friends and relatives. Yes, I know. you're thinking "no gay would ever have anything to do with you".Really? So, tell me again, who here is being hateful? Thanks. You just made my argument.



  18. regecj
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    regecj - October 07, 2013 3:21 pm
    Kris Vallotton out of Redding, CA (KVMinistries.com) provides some much needed balance without compromising truth. He states;
    Here my take on homosexuality for whatever it is worth;
    1-God planted two trees in the garden, a good tree and a bad tree. Therefore it is the nature of God to give people choices because the only way you can get a reward for doing the right thing is to have the opportunity to do the wrong one. So I respect the right of people to make choices without creating rules against those choices unless those choices infringe negatively on the lives of others. I would not therefore, be in favor of a law that made homosexuality illegal.

    2-Homosexuality is not same-sex attraction. It is the desire to have sex with the same gender. It is healthy for men to want the attention and affection of other men, and the same goes for women. Jonathan and David had a soul tie and a love relationship that transcended the love of a woman. This is common among soldiers who fight together in the trenches of battle and build a bond as they struggle together in life-and-death situations. But modern culture does not know how to separate love and sex and therefore assumes every sacred bond must be sexual. This is simply not true! I believe that many people get sucked into homosexuality out of this deep desire to the boned brother to brother or sister to sister. Society teaches people that this bond is a homosexual tendency because it has no other box for brotherly and sister love.

    3- I do believe that there are people that have same gender sexual attractions. I think it's real and not imagined. But being attracted to something that is wrong does not define you. For example, I'm a married man and therefore I am a one woman man by choice. Biologically I have the capacity to be sexually attracted to many other women but I have chosen through covenant to manage my appetite towards one woman. Therefore I am not define by the temptations that I resist. Instead I am defined by the virtues that I embrace. These virtues have become the boundaries for my appetite and they dictate what I allow myself to desire.

    4-I have deep concerns that homosexuality is growing out of a misunderstanding of love and sex. When we teach people that the need for affection from the same gender is a homosexual tendency, it creates that mindset in people that have this need.
  19. WyomingLiberal
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    WyomingLiberal - October 07, 2013 2:36 pm
    Humans are magnificent creatures. One source of their magnificence is their individual sovereignty. They truly are made in the image of their sovereign Creator. I have no right to prohibit a gay couple from forming a life-log monogamous covenant. At this no liberty-loving person should balk. The same applies to government if it truly is we the people. The caveat is that if I were gay, I must not, if I am to honor humanity, force my fellow humans to endorse or even acknowledge the familial covenants I make if they find them morally objectionable. I cannot, while keeping my moral integrity intact, coerce any fellow human into violating their conscience. Is this not what "legalized" marriage would be doing? Surely government has no legitimate role to play in our personal lives and the familial covenants we make. It is time we change our paradigm and reject government intrusion into individual sovereignty and honor it ourselves.
  20. BigGayJim
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    BigGayJim - October 07, 2013 12:20 pm
    Kool Kat, I think you might have been misinformed about what the police investigations determined about possible drug involvement. There were two lead investigators on the case, Dave O'Malley for the Laramie Police Dept and Rob DeBree for the Albany County Sheriff's Dept. Both describe their homophobic attitudes and behaviors at the time of Matt's attack, and both agree to this day it WAS about hate. They speak candidly and publicly about the arresting officer having special training in narcotics, and that neither suspect exhibited any signs of withdrawal while incarcerated...just the smell of alcohol on their breath. They talk about the suspects' lack of money to pay for drugs, as evidenced by their paying for beer pitchers with spare change. Their investigation revealed that despite their history with meth, the suspects had apparently not had drugs for several weeks. This was corroborated by their girlfriends. Dave is now the Sheriff and Rob is the Undersheriff here in Albany County. Interested folks might like to contact them directly, to discuss the specifics in greater detail and directly from the source.
  21. Pops
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    Pops - October 07, 2013 10:22 am
    Some of the posted comments reinforce the notion that Wyoming lives on the "Dark Side" of human rights issue.
  22. TwoHusbandsSince1976
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    TwoHusbandsSince1976 - October 07, 2013 9:31 am
    Beautiful couple and story, thank you. The lethal myth of heterosexual-supremacy is crumbling fast, thank God.
  23. Wilderness
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    Wilderness - October 07, 2013 7:50 am
    "This is offensive" might as well be written "these people are offensive". "Those of you that try to indoctrinate the general public in this manner should be ashamed of yourselves!!!" might as well say "you abhorrent gay people need to go back into hiding".

    You hate them. You just lack the cojones to say it out loud. And that makes it even worse. You and Kool Kat and others are at best an embarrassment to the "Equality State". It's 2013. The rest of the civilized world has come to grips with the fact that gay people are just people, and they should have the same rights and privileges as heterosexual people. The fact that they do NOT is what makes them unhappy. Not to mention the fact that their sexuality also puts them in harm's way more than infrequently. And you can't see that, even though it's as plain as the nose on your face.

    I always wonder - why do gay people scare you so much?
  24. Kool Kat
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    Kool Kat - October 07, 2013 6:53 am
    Uh oh, sjordan.
    You're trivializing what the police reports - reported, with your own assumptions. As there were obvious "illegal drugs" in the mix when this horrible murder took place as exposed by police investigation.
    There are those that have numerous times tried using the media and Matthew's parents to change this to a hate crime. But the evidence police had, the coroner presented and argued in court all pointed "murder" and not "hate".
    If you want to offend me? Just keep pushing hate, insulting everyone's intelligence to what was contrary. I accept what the police investigation said and the court hearings, followed by trial provided.
  25. Bluffs
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    Bluffs - October 07, 2013 4:25 am
    Give me a break! A man and a woman married for 65yrs, 6 kids raised, and you have impacts on your life?
  26. sjordan
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    sjordan - October 06, 2013 9:59 pm
    Re: the drug deal - Henderson and McKinney were meth addicts and petty thieves who had regular runs-ins with the law - perhaps they would have never been contacted to Matt's beating had they not been arrested a couple days late for being in a fight on the street. I have no doubt that they picked Matt because he was alone, outgoing, apparently well-to-do, and smaller then them -- Henderson and McKinney are little guys. There's nothing about drugs here. Matt was new in town and lonely, and they befriended him in a bar in order to get him somewhere alone where they could rob him.
  27. BigGayJim
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    BigGayJim - October 06, 2013 5:30 pm
    IdrahaJe, no, not everyone who disagrees and engages in respectful debate does so out of hate. However, many don't remember the respect, and make blatantly hateful comments. Death threats. Accusations. 3 friends of mine have lost their jobs in the last year because their employers learned they were gay. And I did not say that all people have an agenda. I said that Jimenez does, and speak from firsthand experience. He claimed not to, but left behind a stack of emails when interviewing the Chief of Police that clearly showed he had written the story in advance, rather than conducting the interview first and seeing what he found in the process.
  28. Kool Kat
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    Kool Kat - October 06, 2013 5:20 pm
    Yeah, I notice that.
    Jim on one hand claims there is hate everywhere and in their backyards but, won't look at the hatred spewed out by many of his peers. Jim and Meg seem to be cut from the same cloth from this struggle, as I admitted to hate government waste. In which he hadn't responded with his hate that he says everyone has.
    Double standard? You make that call.
  29. IdrahaJe
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    IdrahaJe - October 06, 2013 4:15 pm
    This is offensive. Plain and simple. Those of you that try to indoctrinate the general public in this manner should be ashamed of yourselves!!! The simple plain fact is this: Just because someone says something that you do not like, disagree with, or do not like does not mean that they 'hate' you. Please tell us the last time anyone in this state was fired because they were gay? Stop creating all of this sensationalism and drama where it usually does not exist.

    BGJ says " I'm sure there will be hateful comments". I see. So, BGJ, what you are essentially saying to us is that it's okay for you to accuse people of being something that they are no; but if anyone says something about you, they are hateful?? Do you understand what I am saying? The lgbt community has gotten everyone to believe that unless someone is ready to stand on the corner and wave a banner that says "Gay is okay", then they are closed minded bigots.

    Too bad that same freedom of speech is not given to others. Only the lgbt community can accuse anyone that says something that they disagree with of being hateful, or descriminating, or any other spoon fed line of lies.

    I do not jate anyone. And I am offended that the glbt community thinks that they are the only ones allowed to have an opinion.

    BGJ wrote "Jimenez has had an agenda since he worked for 20/20 and has not been the most ethical in his investigation." Implying, as always, that people are always maligned together in some 'plot' against them. .Okay, time for a reality check. Let's talk about this word hate. Do any of you remember Meg Lankers false allegation? That might be considered hateful. How hateful do you have to be to make up a threat against yourself to attempt to make others look bad?
  30. giverofthelight
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    giverofthelight - October 06, 2013 3:53 pm
    It's nice to see such positive feedback here. As we move forward as a state toward the equality that we all deserve, it's important to remember that although we ultimately rely on legislation to extend that equality, the living of equality takes place one act of love at a time. Love harder.
  31. Kool Kat
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    Kool Kat - October 06, 2013 3:02 pm
    Good point, as I am like millions of others that "hate" the way Congress and the President spend so recklessly. I suppose you meant, there are many kinds and types of "hate".
  32. BigGayJim
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    BigGayJim - October 06, 2013 2:53 pm
    Jimenez has had an agenda since he worked for 20/20 and has not been the most ethical in his investigation. The "drug deal" theory was investigated and discounted already in 1998 because of the perpetrators' history, but Henderson and McKinney were quite clear they didn't know Matt. There's a whole mountain of evidence that proves it. The theory continues to persist, largely because people want to look for any other reason. Nobody wants to believe hate exists in their backyard.
  33. Kool Kat
    Report Abuse
    Kool Kat - October 06, 2013 2:34 pm
    Sad to see any college student murdered for a any reason, let alone the apparent drug-deal-gone-bad that caused this. As the court was called into action for "illegal drug dealing" between both parties.
    Murder is never acceptable whether "heterosexual or not". because of any type of illegal activity, as the trib.com seems to want to revisit trials of the past, how about the condemned killer Eaton that raped and murdered and now on death row.

    Drug deals gone bad? Or needing a fix .... ?
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/09/22/the-myths-of-matthew-shepard-s-infamous-death.html

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/12/stephen-jimenez-matthew-shepard_n_3914707.html
  34. Melissa
    Report Abuse
    Melissa - October 06, 2013 1:47 pm
    Thank you for such a great article. It sad that in this day and age that this is even a topic for discussion. It breaks my heart that same sex couples are not afforded the same rights as my husband and myself. Hopefully in the very near future this will all change. I pray that people with closed minds and nasty things to say do not spew hatred and venom on this article.
  35. Steven
    Report Abuse
    Steven - October 06, 2013 12:56 pm
    It is a proud fact that Wyoming early on 'granted' women the franchise.
    It is an unfortunate fact that since that time, the state has by and large settled in to a provincial, ultra conservative mindset where diversity is shunned rather than embraced.
    That equal treatment under the law for the LGBT community is still a debatable matter in 2013 is remarkable.
    That those who need medical marijuana to treat their afflictions are routinely imprisoned for simple possession is reprehensible.
    The time when such a backwater government can be tolerated is past. The time for electing officials who recognize and respect all citizens is now.
  36. BigGayJim
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    BigGayJim - October 06, 2013 10:24 am
    Ben, thank for taking such care to get it right, and treating us with so much respect. I'm sure there will be hateful comments, but it's important people understand the very real impacts on our life and family.
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