With the sale of a violent, homophobic T-shirt, a biker bar in Cheyenne may have inadvertently moved the state closer to bringing in hate crime legislation. The Wyoming Equality group shared a photo of the shirt—which shows an armed man, with the words "In Wyoming, we have a cure for AIDS, we shoot f---'n -f-----s"—in a Facebook post Monday, saying it had failed to convince the owner to stop selling them, the Casper Star Tribune reports. The group said it wasn't naming the bar because they didn't want to give it free publicity. Cheyenne is less than an hour away from Laramie, where gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was beaten, tied to a fence, and left to die in 1998, reports NBC.
Wyoming is one of only four states with no hate crimes legislation, but state lawmakers will consider two potential measures during the 2022 legislative session. Sara Burlingame, executive director of Wyoming Equality, tells NBC that the shirt has made at least a few state lawmakers understand the need for legislation. Gov. Mark Gordon, a Republican, was among those who condemned the shirt, saying its rhetoric "is not reflective of our state's values, and does nothing but promote hate and division." The bar's owner tells the Cheyenne Post that the shirts have sold out and he will not be ordering more because he is "in the bar business, not the apparel business." (Read more Wyoming stories.)