LGBT rights in Wyoming
StatusLegal since 1977
Gender identityState requires sex reassignment surgery to alter sex on birth certificate
Discrimination protectionsProtections in employment for sexual orientation and gender identity (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsSame-sex marriage since 2014
AdoptionSame-sex couples may jointly adopt[1]

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of Wyoming may face some legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Same-sex sexual activity has been legal in Wyoming since 1977, and same-sex marriage was legalized in the state in October 2014. Wyoming statutes do not address discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity; however, the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County established that employment discrimination against LGBT people is illegal under federal law. In addition, the cities of Jackson and Laramie have enacted ordinances outlawing discrimination in housing and public accommodations.

Wyoming attracted international notoriety after the death of Matthew Shepard in 1998. In 2009, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was passed by the U.S. Congress expanding the federal definition of hate crimes to include among others sexual orientation and gender identity. According to media outlets, his murder has resulted in "a shift in American culture" toward LGBT rights.[2] A 2017 poll found a majority of Wyoming residents in favor of same-sex marriage and an anti-discrimination law covering LGBT people.[3] However, anti-gay attitudes and behaviors still persist.[4][5][6][7]


The Arapaho, who now live on the Wind River Indian Reservation, recognize male-bodied individuals who act, behave and live as women, referred to as haxu'xan. The haxu'xan, like women, are traditionally in charge of food preparation and dressing hides to make clothing and bedding. They form a "third gender" in Arapaho society, and can even marry men. The Arapaho believe their gender is "a supernatural gift from birds and animals".[8]

At its creation in 1868, the Wyoming Territory adopted all its laws from the Dakota Territory. This included a penalty of life imprisonment for sodomy. Amendments in 1890 made fellatio and mutual masturbation with a partner younger than 21 years of age, whether heterosexual or homosexual, criminal offenses. The penalty for sodomy was changed to a maximum of five years' imprisonment. In 1951, a psychopathic offender law was enacted, under which those convicted of sodomy could be "mentally examined".[9]

Despite this, Wyoming is the only U.S. state that has no published sodomy cases.[9]

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity

Wyoming decriminalized consensual sodomy in February 1977.[10] The age of consent for all consensual sexual activity is 17.[11]

Initially, the repeal of the sodomy law did not affect the common-law crimes reception statute, thus leaving anal intercourse an indictable offence. This was abrogated in 1982.[9]

Recognition of same-sex relationships


Main article: Same-sex marriage in Wyoming

Wyoming has recognized same-sex marriage since October 21, 2014, following the decision of state officials not to appeal a federal court decision that found the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.[12] Wyoming previously recognized the legal relationships of same-sex couples only for the purpose of divorce. It had prohibited same-sex marriage by statute since 1977 and enacted a more explicit ban in 2003.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead said that the state would continue to defend its ban despite action by the U.S. Supreme Court on October 6, 2014, which left standing as binding precedent on courts in Wyoming rulings of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals that found bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.[13] In the case of Guzzo v. Mead, U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl ruled for the plaintiffs challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage on October 17.[14] His ruling took effect on October 21 when state officials notified the court that they would not appeal his ruling.[15]

Domestic partnerships

On January 14, 2013, legislators filed a bill creating domestic partnerships to allow same-sex couples to "obtain the rights, responsibilities, protections and legal benefits provided in Wyoming for immediate family members." Legislators who favored same-sex marriage supported the legislative tactic of offering the alternatives.[16] Governor Matt Mead said he favored domestic partnerships. On January 28, a House committee approved the domestic partnership bill 7–2.[17] The full House rejected it, however, on January 30, 2013 in a 24–35 vote.[18]

Adoption and parenting

Married same-sex couples are permitted to adopt, and lesbian couples can access assisted reproduction services, such as in vitro fertilization. State law recognizes the non-genetic, non-gestational mother as a legal parent to a child born via donor insemination, irrespective of the marital status of the parents.[19] Wyoming law also does not explicitly prohibit surrogacy. As a result, surrogacy is presumably legal in the state for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples. Wyoming law specifically states that it "does not authorize or prohibit" gestational surrogacy contracts, leaving surrogacy up to judicial review on a case-by-case basis.[20] In August 2021, Wyoming signed and implemented a bill to explicitly legalize any surrogacy contracts and/or arrangements by legislation. However within the legislation the terms "mother and father" (instead of "parent" or "parents") are explicitly used - to exclude both single people and same-sex couples.[21]

Discrimination protections

Map of Wyoming cities that had sexual orientation and/or gender identity anti–employment discrimination ordinances prior to .legend{page-break-inside:avoid;break-inside:avoid-column}.mw-parser-output .legend-color{display:inline-block;min-width:1.25em;height:1.25em;line-height:1.25;margin:1px 0;text-align:center;border:1px solid black;background-color:transparent;color:black}.mw-parser-output .legend-text{}  Sexual orientation and gender identity with anti–employment discrimination ordinance  Sexual orientation in public employment
Map of Wyoming cities that had sexual orientation and/or gender identity anti–employment discrimination ordinances prior to Bostock
  Sexual orientation and gender identity with anti–employment discrimination ordinance
  Sexual orientation in public employment

State statutes do not address discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. On January 31, 2011, the state House rejected a bill banning such discrimination.[22] Likewise, on January 31, 2013, the state Senate rejected a similar bill by a vote of 15 to 13.[23]

At the start of the 2015 legislative session, a business coalition, Compete Wyoming, was formed to push for LGBT anti-discrimination laws.[24][25] On February 3, 2015, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved 6–1 a bill that would have prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill, SF 115, contained a religious exemption, unlike bills that failed in previous legislative sessions. On February 10, the full Senate approved the bill on a 24–6 vote.[26][27] On February 20, the bill was approved by the House Labor, Health and Social Services Committee, by a 6–2 margin.[28][29] On February 24, 2015, the House rejected the bill, in 26–33 vote.[30][31]

Jackson and Laramie have anti-discrimination ordinances that cover sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. Other cities, including the state capital of Cheyenne, Casper and Gillette, prohibit city employment on the basis of sexual orientation only.[32]

Bostock v. Clayton County

Main article: Bostock v. Clayton County

On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County, consolidated with Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda, and in R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is discrimination on the basis of sex, and Title VII therefore protects LGBT employees from discrimination.[33][34][35]

Hate crime law

Wyoming does not have a hate crime law.[36][37] In 1999, following the murder of Matthew Shepard near Laramie, Wyoming, such legislation was "hotly debated." Proponents of such legislation since then have preferred the term "bias crime."[37]

Transgender rights

Further information: Transgender rights in the United States

In order for transgender people to change the gender marker on their Wyoming birth certificate, they must undergo sex reassignment surgery and receive a court order stating that their sex has been changed. Consequently, the applicant must submit to the Vital Statistics Services a letter stating their wish to have their gender marker changed, a photocopy of the current ID, a certified copy of the court order and a letter from a doctor that reassignment surgery has been performed.[38] The Department of Transportation will correct the gender marker on a driver's license and state ID card upon receipt of a completed "Gender Designation Change Request Form" signed by the applicant and a physician, therapist or counselor, psychiatric social worker or other medical or social service provider confirming the applicant's gender identity.

Obcenity material

In Wyoming, an archaic law still legally bans "obcenity material" - such as banning certain LGBT books and other items within state libraries. In October 2021, a local librarian within Gillette was charged under a district attorney office and faces court over archaic "obscenity material" charges by the Sheriff's office.[39]

Public opinion

A 2017 Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) opinion poll found that 62% of Wyoming residents supported same-sex marriage, while 30% opposed it and 8% were unsure.[3] A 2019 poll shows 64% of Wyoming residents support discrimination protections while 24% opposed it. However, 41% also supported religiously based refusals to serve gay and lesbian people while 52% opposed it.[40]

Public opinion for LGBT anti-discrimination laws in Wyoming
Poll source Date(s)
Margin of
% support % opposition % no opinion
Public Religion Research Institute January 2-December 30, 2019 155 ? 64% 24% 12%
Public Religion Research Institute January 3-December 30, 2018 136 ? 61% 37% 2%
Public Religion Research Institute April 5-December 23, 2017 236 ? 66% 26% 8%
Public Religion Research Institute April 29, 2015-January 7, 2016 213 ? 66% 30% 4%

Summary table

Same-sex sexual activity legal
(Since 1977)
Equal age of consent
(Since 1977)
Anti-discrimination laws for sexual orientation
(In employment, not housing nor public accommodations)
Anti-discrimination laws for gender identity or expression
(In employment, not housing nor public accommodations)
Same-sex marriages
(Since 2014)
Stepchild and joint adoption by same-sex couples
(Since 2014)
Lesbian, gay and bisexual people allowed to serve openly in the military
(Since 2011)
Transgender people allowed to serve openly in the military
(Since 2021)[41]
Intersex people allowed to serve openly in the military
(Current DoD policy bans "hermaphrodites" from serving or enlisting in the military)[42]
Right to change legal gender
(Requires sex reassignment surgery)
Conversion therapy banned on minors
Access to IVF for lesbian couples
Surrogacy arrangements legal for gay male couples
MSMs allowed to donate blood
(Since 2020; 3-month deferral period)[44]

See also


  1. ^ Wyoming Adoption Laws and Policies
  2. ^ "Matthew Shepard: The legacy of a gay college student 20 years after his brutal murder". ABC News. October 5, 2018.
  3. ^ a b PRRI: American Values Atlas 2017
  4. ^ Martin, Nathan C. (May 14, 2016). "It's still dangerous to be gay in Wyoming". High Country News.
  5. ^ Dobner, Jennifer (July 20, 2016). "Wyoming men charged in gay Utah men's beatings — but not with hate crime". The Salt Lake Tribune.
  6. ^ "Sen. Mike Enzi: A Guy Who Wears A Tutu To A Bar 'Kind Of Asks For It'". HuffPost. April 25, 2017.
  7. ^ "Wyoming bar sold "We shoot fuck'n faggots" T-Shirts". 13 July 2021.
  8. ^ Sabine Lang, Men as Women, Women as Men ISBN 0292777957, 2010
  9. ^ a b c "The History of Sodomy Laws in the United States - Wyoming". Retrieved 2012-12-05.
  10. ^ William N. Eskridge, Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America, 1861-2003 (NY: Penguin Group, 2008), 201n, available online, accessed April 10, 2011
  12. ^ Moen, Bob (October 21, 2014). "Wyoming Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage". ABC news. Associated Press. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
  13. ^ Hancock, Laura (October 6, 2014). "Mead says Supreme Court move has no impact on Wyoming's gay marriage case". Casper Star Tribune. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  14. ^ "Order". U.S. District Court for Wyoming. Retrieved October 17, 2014.
  15. ^ Moen, Bob (October 21, 2014). "Wyoming Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage". ABC news. Associated Press. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
  16. ^ Huelsmann, Kevin (January 15, 2013). "Lawmakers back gay marriage, union bills". Jackson Hole News and Guide. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
  17. ^ Celock, John (January 29, 2013). "Wyoming Legislative Committee Rejects Gay Marriage, Passes Domestic Partnerships". Huffington Post. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  18. ^ "Wyoming House defeats domestic partnership bill". Billings Gazette. January 30, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  19. ^ "Wyoming's equality profile". Movement Advancement Project.
  20. ^ "What You Need to Know About Surrogacy in Wyoming". American Surrogacy.
  21. ^ "Wyoming Has Its First Surrogacy Law, For Better And For Worse - Above the LawAbove the Law". 25 August 2021.
  22. ^ "H.B. No. 0142". Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  23. ^ Barron, Joan. "Wyoming Senate defeats gay discrimination bill,", 31 January 2013, accessed 1 February 2013.
  24. ^ "New coalition pushes anti-discrimination law for Wyoming". Star Tribune. January 8, 2015.
  25. ^ "Compete Wyoming". Archived from the original on 2015-01-16. Retrieved 2015-02-12.
  26. ^ "Wyoming Senate approves bill to prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination". LGBTQ Nation. February 10, 2015.
  27. ^ SF 115
  28. ^ "Lawmaker kicked out of meeting as committee clears LGBT anti-discrimination bill". Casper Star-Tribune. February 20, 2015.
  29. ^ "Wyoming House panel advances bill to ban LGBT discrimination". LGBTQ Nation. February 20, 2015.
  30. ^ "Wyoming's "Anti-Discrimination" Bill Fails". KGWN-TV. February 24, 2015.
  31. ^ "Wyoming House shoots down LGBT anti‑discrimination bill". LGBTQ Nation. February 24, 2015.
  32. ^ MEI 2018: See Your City’s Score
  33. ^ Biskupic, Joan (June 16, 2020). "Two conservative justices joined decision expanding LGBTQ rights". CNN.
  34. ^ "US Supreme Court backs protection for LGBT workers". BBC News. June 15, 2020.
  35. ^ Liptak, Adam (June 15, 2020). "Civil Rights Law Protects Gay and Transgender Workers, Supreme Court Rules". The New York Times.
  36. ^ "Wyoming Hate Crimes Law,", accessed 1 February 2013.
  37. ^ a b Rule, Juliette (October 5, 2003). "Bias-crime law a hard sell in Wyoming". Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
  38. ^ Wyoming, National Center for Transgender Equality
  39. ^ "Wyoming DA may charge librarians with obscenity over LGBTQ+ books". 3 October 2021.
  40. ^ "PRRI – American Values Atlas".
  41. ^ Baldor, Lolita; Miller, Zeke (January 25, 2021). "Biden reverses Trump ban on transgender people in military". Associated Press.
  42. ^ "Medical Conditions That Can Keep You From Joining the Military". 10 May 2021.
  43. ^ Third Party Reproduction, adoption and co-parenting legislation in the United States
  44. ^ McNamara, Audrey (April 2, 2020). "FDA eases blood donation requirements for gay men amid "urgent" shortage". CBS News.