The father of murdered University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard told an advisory committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on Friday that Wyoming needs a hate crimes law.

Dennis Shepard testified before the Wyoming Advisory Committee to the civil rights commission that Wyoming is one of only five states without a hate crimes law. He said that hurts Wyoming economically by creating a "brain drain" exodus of young people and preventing companies from moving here. While bills to create a state hate crimes law have been introduced in the Wyoming Legislature over the last 20 years, none has become law.

Supporters of such legislation say it is needed for both moral and economic reasons, including those outlined by Dennis Shepard.

Opponents say murder and similar crimes that would be covered by hate crimes legislation are already illegal under both state and federal law. Some opponents also argue that the concept of a "hate crime" is flawed in itself, because virtually all crimes qualify as "hate crimes" on some level, even if not defined as such under a hate crimes law. Some opponents also claim hate crimes laws tend to give "special protection" to certain groups of people.

So what do you think? Does Wyoming need a hate crimes law?

We'll publish the results on Monday, Nov. 11.

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