AP — Lawmakers in Wyoming, where gay college student Matthew Shepard was killed more than 20 years ago, again decided not to adopt a hate crimes law. Wyoming is one of just three states that haven't enacted hate crimes legislation since Shepard was beaten and left for dead in Laramie in The killing of the University of Wyoming student inspired those laws in other states and at the federal level. A measure tabled Thursday by the Wyoming House Judiciary Committee would have allowed prosecutors to consider a criminal's biases against race, sex, gender, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, ethnicity or disabilities when seeking punishment for crimes. The legislation sponsored by Republican Rep. Pat Sweeney of Casper also would have provided for anti-bias training for law enforcement officers to help them identify and respond to hate crimes.
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Wyoming is one of only three states that does not have hate crime protections. This is despite it being the location of one of the most notorious hate crimes in recent history: The brutal murder of gay student, Matthew Shepard , in SB was sponsored by Republican Rep. Pat Sweeney.
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The ordinance would address crimes in which an individual is targeted with violence or threats of violence because of their race, skin color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. Proposed by City Commissioner Arlette Preston, she said she wanted to "communicate clearly to the community that bias crimes won't be tolerated and will be prosecuted. However, commissioners Tony Gehrig and Dave Piepkorn wondered if state law would allow the city to have its own ordinance, as a similar proposed state law was voted down in this session of the state Legislature. She said Minnesota and South Dakota have state laws on bias crimes, although North Dakota's Legislature this session defeated a proposed law similar to Preston's suggestion.