(Dan Cepeda, Oil City File)

CASPER, Wyo. — For the past eight years, the Human Rights Campaign has ranked cities around the country using a “Muncipal Equality Index.”

In 2019, Casper received a score of only 11 out of a possible 100 points on the index. The City of Casper says that of seven Wyoming municipalities to receive scores, only Rock Springs received a lower score than Casper in 2019.

“The Municipal Equality Index (MEI) examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer) people who live and work there,” Human Rights Campaign says. “Cities are rated based on non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and the city leadership’s public position on equality.”

With Casper receiving the relatively low score, former mayor and current City Councilman Charlie Powell suggested the city consider creating an LGBTQ Advisory Committee during a Nov. 2019 work session.

“Powell did not believe that the draft score accurately represented the City of Casper’s commitment to equality nor did it highlight the welcoming nature of our community,” city staff write in a memo.

Staff reached out to the Human Rights Campaign to discuss areas where the city thought they should have received a higher score, but the memo states that they did not agree to modify the score.

The city says that the “largest area to gain points is in the area of hate crime reporting.”

“However, this is a complex area that will require further investigation and recommendations from the police department,” reads the memo.

The memo goes on to state that regardless of the scoring from the Human Rights Campaign, “Casper should take concrete steps to make sure Casper is seen as a welcoming and equitable community.”

At the direction of council, city staff have organized an “LGBTQ Steering Committee.” That steering committee is helping guide the possible establishment of an “LGBTQ/Human Rights Advisory Committee to advise current and future councils on issues important to Casper’s LGBTQ community.”

The city add that an “LGBTQ liaison” in the City Manager’s Office has been appointed.

A gender neutral bathroom will also be a part of remodeling of City Hall.

The city council will discuss this topic during their Tuesday, Jan. 28 work session.

Casper’s scorecard on the 2019 Municipal Equality Index is as follows:

If you would like to contact members of the Casper City Council regarding this or any other issue, here is their contact information:

Mayor Steve Freel (Ward III, Term expires 1/3/23):

Vice Mayor Khrystyn Lutz (Ward I, Term expires 1/3/23):

Councilman Charlie Powell (Ward II, Term Expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Shawn Johnson (Ward II, Term expires 1/3/23):

Councilman Ken Bates (Ward II, Term expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Steve Cathey (Ward III, Term Expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Bob Hopkins (Ward I, Term expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Mike Huber (Ward I, Term expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Ray Pacheco (Ward III, Term expires 1/3/23):

Council members can also be reached by mail at: 200 N. David Street, 82601

If you would like to contact members in your specific ward, but don’t know which ward you are in, a map is available at the City of Casper’s website.