Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

By Cindy Glasson
Reporter & Photographer 

Winters explains non-discrimination act

 


In a deja vu repeat of the 2016 legislative session, Wyoming is once again in the spotlight nationally for House Bill 0135, the non-discrimination act.

The bill has been described as a stab at the LGBT community with those opposing the bill saying it removes the rights of the LGBT community in favor of religious preference, spreading real fear among the LGBT community and their supporters.

An attempt was made last year to present the bill on the house floor, however, there is a required 2/3 vote to bring it from committee to the floor. That would mean a count of 40 votes were needed and it missed that count by just a single vote, effectively killing it before full house discussion could be had.

Now, the bill has reared its head again, waiting to see if it will make those 40 votes this time around.

There are some misconceptions, mostly due to social media, regarding the intent of the bill.

“There are some terrible misrepresentations,” Representative Nathan Winters, one of the authors of the bill, said. “It does not change the definition of marriage. It does not prevent gay or lesbian couples from being granted a marriage license. It does not affect benefits or services the LGBT community receives.”

Winters said the bill was very narrowly tailored so it has been difficult to keep it from creating confusion.

“We are looking for viewpoint neutrality with this,” Winters said. “It does not punish the LGBT community. It merely provides protection for people of faith, preventing any discrimination against them as well.”

Winters said he does not want to see the government weaponized against either side.

“We shouldn’t be pushing people out of business because of religious beliefs,” he said. “We should all be able to disagree without discriminating against each other.”

The bill is specifically written for government entities, not private practice, meaning the government, the State of Wyoming, will not be penalizing people because of their religious convictions.

Winters feels this is a clear result of the separation of church and state, including the freedom of religion and conscience.

“The government will provide services, no matter what,” he said. “Licenses for traditional marriages and gay and lesbian licenses will continue to be granted. No benefits will be denied on either side.”

 

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