Discussion of a possible Cheyenne ordinance designed to protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual or gender identity is continuing, although no proposal has been formally put forward yet in the city council.

Sara Burlingame of Wyoming Equality says many people falsely assume that lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people are protected from discrimination by federal law. She says that actually isn't true, although there is a bill in congress known as the ENDA, or Employment Non Discrimination Act, which would change that in terms of employment discrimination.

But Burlingame says right now in Cheyenne it's perfectly legal to fire someone, evict them from a rented home or refuse them services because of their sexual or gender identity.

Burlingame says a draft non-discrimination proposal written by retired Cheyenne attorney Kathy Jenkins may be formally proposed to the city council at some point. She says a petition in support of the proposal has so far been signed by 500 Cheyenne residents, including 100 business owners.

But City Councilman Dicky Shanor says there are concerns with the proposal, including the fact that it includes jail sentences as a potential penalty for violators. He says that is different than a non-discrimination bill that failed in the Wyoming Legislature last year that would have included civil, but not criminal penalties

Shanor says another problem is that it essentially would put the mayor in charge of prosecuting alleged discrimination in Municipal Court, where traffic violations and similar cases are heard.

Shanor says the bottom line is that city governments and municipal courts are not set up to handle such cases.

He says the issue would be better handled at the state or federal level.

Cheyenne mayoral candidate Marian Orr has said she would support a city non-discrimination ordinance, although she also said she would not support a measure that included jail sentences as a possible penalty.

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