When I moved from Boston to L.A., I drove across country with a boyfriend the summer after we graduated from college. We packed up everything we owned into his mother’s Pontiac Parisienne and took the scenic route, criss-crossing the country in a W shape. We visited most of the fifty states, and many of our biggest parks and monuments, camping in a tent most of the time. We didn’t drive through Wyoming, and I haven’t gathered the enthusiasm to visit since then.
I always associated the state of Wyoming with two unpleasant things: the birth of Dick Cheney and the death of Matthew Shepard. I’m sure there are many people in the state of Wyoming I’d really like if I got to know them, but I’ve never tried.
This is the sixteenth anniversary of the week Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, tied to a split-rail fence, beaten with a pistol butt, then left to die. A bicyclist saw his body and at first thought he was a scarecrow. Matthew lay comatose in a hospital bed for a few days, then died. Many people have been gay bashed before and since Matthew. But his murder was notorious for its sheer brutality and media coverage. It spawned an activist movement, which has gotten anti-hate crime legislation passed.
If you don’t know much about Matthew Shepard’s life, watch this HBO movie called The Laramie Project. The “project” was a series of interviews with 200 residents of Laramie, WY where Shepard died. The playwrights turned the interviews into a script, and HBO cast a bunch of movie stars in their adaptation.
Yesterday, the Supreme denied appeals attempting to block Marriage Equality in five states, including Wyoming.
You can get gay married in Wyoming now.
Here, Rachel Maddow lays out the recent history of the gay rights movement. Prop 8, the Supreme Court decision on Edie Windsor and Thea Spire, and the Defense of Marriage Act.
Justice Scalia lamented the ruling in the Edie Windsor case was gonna mean gay marriage everywhere… He said I disagree with this ruling and its gonna be the end of the world. Justice Scalia was right, it turns out, if your world is held up by legalized discrimination against married gay couples. Since the Edie Windsor ruling last summer, what has followed is an almost unbroken streak of 40 straight rulings in state and federal courts states upholding equal marriage rights for same sex couples and striking down state laws which ban the recognition of those rights.
The Matthew Shepard Foundation points out that October 6 is once again an important day in LGBT history. It may be time to start planing my first Wyoming trip.
Looks pretty nice, actually.