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Same sex marriage (SSM) in Wyoming

2009: Constitutional amendment.
Promotion of the amendment.

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Constitutional amendment:

Representatives Petersen, Anderson, Brechtel, Buchanan, Edmonds, Hallinan, Harshman, Mercer, Miller, Quarberg, Semlek and Teeters -- all Republicans -- cosponsored House Joint Resolution # HJ0017 titled "Defense of marriage." 1

Some may consider this a poor title for the resolution. Its stated goal is to prevent loving, committed same-sex couples from marrying. It might seem that to prohibit an entire group of couples from marrying might better be described as an attack on marriage; it would certainly result in fewer married couples.

However, the vast majority of religious and social conservatives believe that allowing  less than 5% of the population -- those who might want to enter into a same-sex marriage sometime during their life -- to marry would significantly weaken the institution of marriage and perhaps even American culture as well.

The resolution was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

Promotion of the amendment:

Focus on the Family Action is a fundamentalist Christian group centered in Colorado Springs, CO. They promote special rights for families headed by opposite-sex couples and limited or no rights for families headed by same-sex couples. In late 2009-JAN, Focus started telephoning people in Wyoming urging them to promote a proposed constitutional amendment.

The amendment's main sponsors are Sen. Curt Meier (R) and Rep. Owen Petersen, (R-Mountain View) and Rep. Ed Buchanan, (R-Torrington). It would:

"... define marriage as a union between a man and a woman and would block the state recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states or countries where they are legal. ... A similar proposed amendment passed the Senate two years ago but died in the House." 2

As of 2013-FEB, people in the District of Columbia, 9 states, all seven provinces and three territories in Canada, and about a dozen other countries have legalized SSM. In addition, their status in California is currently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court who is expected to issue their ruling in 2013-JUN. If the amendment had been passed, Wyoming would be the 31st state to have amended their constitution to restrict or prohibit SSMs.

Sonja Swiatkiewicz is director of issues response for Focus on the Family Action. Ben Neary, columnist for NewsVine.com, reported:

""We want to see marriages protected," said Sonja Swiatkiewicz. ... She said the calls began Friday, but she would not disclose the cost or number of calls."

Essentially all social and religious conservatives believe that SSMs are a danger to opposite-sex marriages and that the latter must be protected from the threat formed by loving, committed, same-sex married couples. The existence of the threat is generally assumed, but is almost never explained in full.

Bob Spencer is a spokesperson for Wyoming Equality, a group that promotes equal marriage rights for all. He said:

"I feel like the Focus on the Family has just moved into the state and wants to see this happen, and I hate to see us go in that direction."

Senator Mike Massie, (D-Laramie) opposes the bill. He said:

"I've heard from several people in Laramie asking me to support the bill. But I've also heard from several people who received the calls and contacted me specifically to ask me to vote against it." 3

The Rev. Dee Lundberg, minister of the Unitarian Church of Christ in Casper, WY, led a demonstration against the proposed constitutional amendment on 2009-FEB-03. "Thirty protestors sang in front of the state Capitol building."

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "State of Wyoming: House Joint Resolution No. HJ0017, State of Wyoming, 2009, at:  http://legisweb.state.wy.us/

  2. "Anti-gay amendment advances in Wyoming," 365 Gay, 2009-FEB-05, at: http://www.365gay.com/

  3. Ben Neary, "Colorado group lobbies in Wyoming on gay marriage," NewsVine, 2009-JAN-21, at: http://www.newsvine.com/

  4. "Same-sex marriage bill draws protestors," Casper Star-Tribune, 2009-FEB-03, at: http://www.casperstartribune.com/

Copyright 2009 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2009-FEB-10
Latest update: 2013-FEB-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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