Saturday, February 07, 2015

Can't help myself -- writing nice things about Republicans again

I can't help myself. I keep writing nice things about Republican legislators. This time it's newly-elected Sen. Stephan Pappas of Cheyenne. He's co-sponsor, with Democrat Chris Rothfuss of Laramie, of a bill (SF115) that would protect gays and transgender people from workplace discrimination. The bill passed its first Senate vote on Friday. Here's Sen. Pappas's comments about the bill in this morning's Wyoming Tribune-Eagle:
[Pappas] said Wyoming is being economically affected by not having an anti-discrimination law. Wyoming needs to show the country and the world it lives by its nickname of the Equality State, he said. 
"There's folks we could bring into Wyoming who have a lot of talent who otherwise might stay away from us if we don't protect folks from discrimination," he said.
Pappas defeated Democrat Dameione Cameron in the 2014 Senate race. I walked neighborhoods for Cameron and contributed to his campaign. He had as many Republican and Libertarian supporters as Democrats, a good thing in this red state. Not enough, though. Too many Democrats didn't vote. The campaign on both sides was noteworthy for its decorum. We know that national groups put pressure on Wyoming Republicans to not stray from the fold. In Gaylan Wright's House District 10 campaign, fliers landed in Republicans' mailboxes that said if you vote for a Democrat, your neighbors are going to know. Intimidating in a largely rural state with the highest rate of gun ownership in the nation. The same fliers from mysterious national right-wing groups probably made it to mailboxes in Senate District 7.

But Pappas and the rest of us know that Dameione Cameron is an Air Force veteran from South Carolina who stayed in Cheyenne, worked his way through law school and now has a thriving practice. We also know that he is a successful businessman, proprietor of downtown's Morris House Bistro, the best restaurant in town, known throughout the region for its Carolina low-country cuisine. If my knees were in better shape, I would walk 100 miles to sit on MHB's patio on a summer evening, eat shrimp and grits, wash it down with a cold beer. Almost like Myrtle Beach -- without the mosquitoes. Fortunately, I work only a block away from MHB and can saunter on over for lunch any time.

Did I mention that Mr. Cameron is gay? Must have forgotten. It hardly seems worth mentioning, Cameron being such an outstanding member of the community and all. To get down to basics, he's one hell of an economic generator, if you count both of his businesses and the people he employs. A homeowner, too, with his partner Troy Rumpf. A taxpayer, too. Stephan Pappas knows this. Sen. Pappas, an architect and USAF veteran, lives in Cheyenne and probably knows a few other people in the LGBT community. Whatever his reasons, Pappas is doing the right thing while many of his Republican colleagues dwell in the dim past.

We'll see how far this anti-discrimination bill gets. SF115 faces two more votes in the Senate and then moves over to the House. Let's see what our Equality State legislators do. Expect fireworks and crazy talk. But also some pleasant surprises.  

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