Same sex marriage (SSM) in Wyoming
2014-MAR: Four same-sex couples file a marriage
equality lawsuit Courage v. Mead in state court.
The acronym "SSM" means same-sex marriage.
The acronym "LGBT" refers to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
2014-MAR-04: A group of Republicans from the midwest file brief supporting SSM:
Twenty Republicans from western states -- including former Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico, U.S. Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming and U.S. Senator Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas -- filed a brief with the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. This is the court to which District Court rulings which legalized SSM in Oklahoma and Utah are being appealed. They quoted a statement by the late Senator Barry Goldwater who wrote:
"We don’t seek to lead anyone’s life for them."
The brief, written by lawyer Sean Gallagher from Denver, said in part:
"It is precisely because marriage is not [sic] important in producing and protecting strong and stable family structures that (we) do not agree that the government can rationally promote the goal of strengthening families by denying civil marriage to same-sex couples." 1
That statement would make a lot more sense if the first "not" were deleted.
Joel Connelly, writing for Seattle pi, said:
"The marriage equality issue has opened a rift between two core Republican constituencies, the religious right and the more secular, libertarian wing of the Republican Party." 1
2014-MAR-05: The LGBT community turns to the courts:
Four same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in Cheyenne, WY. It is: Courage v. Mead, 182-262, at the Wyoming First Judicial District Court, in the County of Laramie.
Some of the couples seek a change in the marriage law so that they can marry in Wyoming; others seek a change so that they can have marriages that have earlier been solemnized out-of-state also recognized in Wyoming.
The main defendant is Matt Mead (R), in his capacity as Governor of Wyoming. Other defendants include Laramie County Clerk Debbye Lathrop and the heads of the state Department of Administration and Information, and state Human Resources Division. The lawsuit is named after plaintiff Cora Courage who legally married Nonie Proffit during 2009 in Iowa. Their marriage is not recognized by the State of Wyoming.
Between 2013-DEC and 2014-FEB, there have been five cases in other states -- Kentucky, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Virginia -- where federal District Courts have issued rulings on SSM . All five have legalized SSM in their state; all rulings have been stayed pending appeals. However, all of those cases were pursued in the federal court system. This Wyoming lawsuit was filed in state court. The couples probably went this route because the state Constitution so obviously guarantees due process and equal protection for its citizens and thus requires marriage equality for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
One of the plaintiffs is professor Anne Guzzo at the University of Wyoming. She said:
"As much as I love this state, it is frustrating to live in the 'Equality State' and to be treated differently by the government because of who [sic] I love." 2
Anne Guzzo joined with her partner, Bonnie Robinson, and performed the usual ritual of attempting to obtain a marriage license in Cheyenne on FEB-27. They were, of course, refused, and filed the lawsuit about a week later.
Jeran Artery, Executive Director of Wyoming Equality said:
"The couples in this case, and all same-sex couples in Wyoming, deserve to be treated with equal fairness and respect, including having the same freedom to marry that others enjoy." 1
Attorney and Rep. Kermit Brown, (R). the Wyoming House majority floor leader, said that the lawsuit is probably well timed:
"As I watch the news and see what's going on with the federal courts, it seems like they're falling like dominoes." 3
Renny MacKay, a spokesperson for Wyoming Governor Matt Mead (R) said:
"Governor Mead has not reviewed the complaint at this time. He is holding his 'end of the legislative' session news conference tomorrow and will address it then." 3
The National Center for Lesbian Rights reports that on 2014-JUL-01:
"... the plaintiffs asked a state district court to declare that the state’s ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional. The four couples and Equality Wyoming filed a motion asking the court to rule that Wyoming’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples violates the equal protection and due process guarantees of the Wyoming Constitution." 5
A hearing has been set for 2014-DEC-15. 5 It continually amazes this author how marriage equality lawsuits can proceed in one state at a snail's pace with perhaps one or two developments a year, while in other states, there can be many developments each day.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Joel Connelly, "Prominent Republicans back gay marriage in court brief," Seattle pi, 2014-MAR-04, at: http://blog.seattlepi.com/
- "Same-Sex Couples Challenge Wyoming's Ban on Gay Marriage," Reuters, 2014-MAR-05, at: http://www.nytimes.com/
- Edvard Pettersson, "Wyoming Couples Sue to Overturn Ban on Same-Sex Marriage," Bloomberg News, 2014-MAR-05, at: http://www.bloomberg.com/
- Mead Gruver & Ben Neary, "Lawsuit by 4 couples seeks Wyoming gay marriage," Chron, 2014-MAR-05, at: http://www.chron.com/
- "Case summary & history. Case: Courage v. Wyoming," National Center for Lesbian Rights, 2014, at: http://www.nclrights.org/
Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2014-MAR-09
Latest update: 2014-MAR-09
Author: B.A. Robinson