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CHEYENNE – A controversial bill titled the “Government Non-discrimination Act” was recalled from the Wyoming House of Representatives by its sponsors Thursday afternoon.

The action was in order to “give Wyoming citizens time for more thorough consideration,” the bill’s sponsors said in a statement emailed to media members Thursday afternoon.

Supporters of House Bill 135 said it would protect the “free exercise of religious beliefs and moral convictions,” while critics said it would let people use those beliefs to discriminate against LGBT people.

“The intention of this bill has always been to hold Wyoming to the highest standard in terms of equal protection under the law,” Rep. Cheri Steinmetz, R-Lingle, said in a news release.

“The religious freedoms guaranteed to each and every one of us are the bedrock on which our Constitution is founded. When these unalienable rights are threatened, so too is every other constitutional right we enjoy.”

Steinmetz sponsored the bill, along with Reps. Sue Wilson, R-Cheyenne; Nathan Winters, R-Thermopolis; and Sens. Paul Barnard, R-Evanston; and Curt Meier, R-LaGrange.

“Equality and the protection of religious freedoms are not mutually exclusive,” Winters said in a statement. “It is not a zero sum game. Discrimination is not what our faith or values teach us. We must find a balance among our laws, ensuring both our First Amendment right to practice and live our faith each day, while practicing tolerance and respect for the rights of our fellow man.”

“My goal, and what I hope is the goal of every Wyoming individual, is to balance the rights of all of our citizens,” Wilson said in a statement. “We all need to continue this important conversation.”

The bill was a form of a “First Amendment Defense Act,” and would allow people who believe marriage is between one man and one woman or who believe an individual’s biological sex is determined at birth to use those beliefs as a defense against discrimination.

Had it passed, the bill would also effectively nullify Laramie’s non-discrimination ordinance and could affect non-discrimination policies of private businesses.

Cheyenne’s non-binding non-discrimination resolution, passed last year, would not have been affected by the bill’s passage, but Mayor Marian Orr expressed her opposition to it earlier this week.

Wyoming’s bill would be one of the most far-reaching in the country, LGBT advocates said, even more so than “Religious Freedom Restoration Acts” that received attention in Indiana and North Carolina.

Only Mississippi has a law similar to the one proposed in Wyoming, and that law is currently being challenged in court.

“I’m overjoyed,” said Sara Burlingame of Wyoming Equality, a group that advocates for LGBT people. “The vast majority of folks saw this bill for what it was and rejected it outright.”

Burlingame said the bill would have allowed people, including government officials, to refuse service to LGBT people based on religious beliefs.

She said the bill would have also been an “economic disaster” for Wyoming.

Two other LGBT-related bills are still in the Legislature.

House Bill 244 is a “bathroom bill” that would require people to use the bathroom of the gender they were assigned at birth or face a criminal charge of public indecency.

That bill has not been referred to a committee and is sponsored by Reps. Lars Lone, R-Cheyenne, and Mark Jennings, R-Sheridan.

At the same time, a bill in the Senate, Senate File 153, would protect LGBT people from discrimination in employment, with exceptions for religious organizations and nonprofits.

That bill is sponsored by Sens. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie; Hank Coe, R-Cody; Stephan Pappas, R-Cheyenne; Drew Perkins, R-Casper; Michael VonFlatern, R-Gillette; and Reps. Eric Barlow, R-Gillette; Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie; Dan Furphy, R-Laramie; Mike Madden, R-Buffalo; Charles Pelkey, D-Laramie; and Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne.

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