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Attaining same-sex marriage and equal rights for the Lesbian,
Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) community in Wyoming

2014-OCT-17 to 21:
Marriage equality comes to Wyoming.
Reactions. Same-sex couples begin to marry.
Public opionion poll finds majority support.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay.

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2014-OCT-17: Comments by former U.S. Senator for Wyoming, Alan Simpson (R):

In an interview by Gregory Nickerson of WyoFile, Senator Simpson said:

"When the 10th Circuit does something, that’s us. We are a part of the 10th Circuit, and it is difficult for me to see how you could be the one state, or one of the states in the Circuit, that would be in an opposite decision than what the 10th Circuit Court did, and what the Supreme Court of the United States did where they rejected hearing those appeals. ..."

"I have been active in the community for a long time. I had a gay cousin who was a war hero — he got medals for his service overseas — and a lesbian cousin who was a music teacher in Illinois, and she was an amazing woman who had a partner for 30 years. Were they any lesser people? Not one bit. I loved them. ... We all know someone we know or love who is gay or lesbian. ..."

"I know people who have partners and are married with children. I know these people. I care about them. I have made no distinction at all.

There is a wonderful woman in Cody who was raised by two gay men and she said they were the most pure people of her life. She is married now with children and she said, “How could you have been any more loved than by these two guys?" 1

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Map of Wyoming 2014-OCT-21: Marriage equality comes to Wyoming:

Michelle Richinick, writing for MSNBC said:

"Legislators filed a legal notice in the morning that declared their refusal to defend a recently overturned state law that defined marriage between a man and a woman. Their move allows county clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. It also means that the state will recognize same-sex unions legally performed outside of Wyoming. The state’s first same-sex marriage could occur as early as Tuesday [OCT-21] night.

When Shepard passed away in 1998, only 30% of Americans supported same-sex marriage, according to The New York Times‘ FiveThirtyEight blog. Support for marriage equality, however, has grown steadily since 2000, when Americans opposed gay marriage by a 57% to 35% margin. But, in a recent Pew Research Center poll, a majority — 54% — said they favored marriage equality.

Prominent lawmakers and public officials from both sides of the aisle have reversed their stances on gay marriage in recent years, including President Barack Obama, former president Bill Clinton, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman." 2

A few minutes after the Legislature filed its legal notice, Judge Skavdahl formally ended his temporary stay and brought marriage equality to Wyoming. The state's motto "Equality State" was upheld.

Wyoming became the 32 symbolnd state to attain marriage equality.

On Tuesday, OCT-21, Ahmed Benkhalti posted a comment to an article about marriage in Wyoming on the BuzzFeed web site, saying:

"I wonder if Matthew Shepard is watching, somewhere..."

To which the author of this essay posted a reply:

"Following his crucifixion, I suspect that Matthew Shepard's consciousness ceased. But his spirit and influence lives on.

This has been quite a fight. At one point, both the Governor and Attorney General were openly violating the equal protection clauses both in the Wyoming Constitution and the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. They were both violating their oaths of office, not once but twice. But they both knew when to throw in the towel." 3

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2014-OCT-21: Reactions to marriage equality and access to marriage licenses by same-sex couples in Wyoming:

  • Judy and Dennis Shepard are parents of Matthew Shepard. After his assassination by crucifixion in 1988, they founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation to promote equal rights. They wrote:

    "We never thought we’d see marriage equality come to Wyoming in our lifetime. But in a wave of judicial rulings allowing same-sex couples to marry across the country, this week a federal court ruling granted our neighbors the opportunity to make history at the altar. The lives and rights of LGBT people in the 'Equality State' are rarely thought about without reflection on the 1998 hate-crime murder of our 21-year-old son Matthew. His abduction, beating, and death changed the way this country and the world responded to anti-gay hate, eventually leading to a federal hate-crime law that bears his name.

    In Wyoming, there is much still to do. The state continues to allow employers to fire these newlyweds for their sexual orientation and gender identity, and the reality is that they — and their children — may face social rejection simply for being who they are. We are keenly aware of the progress left to be made, but today, we celebrate this incredible step forward." 4

  • Some personal stories on 2014-OCT-21 when marriage licenses first became available in Wyoming:
    • Linda Mahaffey and Teresa Bingham were the first same-sex couple to seek a license in Albany County, WY. Linda Mahaffey said:

      "I am proud of Wyoming, and proud they came through with the equality name. We can just be equal like everyone else. ..."

      Linda Mahaffey thanked Anne Guzzo and Bonnie Robinson, plaintiffs in the Guzzo v. Mead lawsuit that brought marriage equality to Wyoming. She said:

      "We just never thought this day would happen. I’m glad that they stuck up and fought for us, honestly, because without them we probably wouldn’t be where we are today." 5

    • Travis Gray and Dirk Andrews of Casper, were the first same-sex couple to obtain a marriage license in Natrona County. When asked what would change in their life, now that they are going to marry after having been together for almost 11 years. Gray said:

      "As far as the day-to-day stuff, nothing at all. I mean our lives are going to continue exactly as they were. We already live together and pay our taxes and are part of the community and all of that. But as far as the big picture; just knowing that we’ve got legal rights and legal standing (to make) end-of-life decisions, and any of that kind of stuff that other people have and can take for granted, we’ll finally be able to have that in our back pockets. This happened all of the sudden and it was like, 'All right, let’s do it.' It’s just sort of a whirlwind. I don’t think any of us really expected it to go through this quickly. So the fact that it did — it’s just been kind of a very good thing, but sort of crazy and surreal." 2

    • Rev. Pamela Kandt, who is a friend of Gray and Casper, said:

      "This is a huge day of celebration, and I wasn’t about to miss it. This is history; a same-gender couple being handed a marriage license across the counter at the Natrona County Clerk’s Office in Casper, Wyoming! I didn’t think I’d see this in my lifetime. This is a big, big day."

      Referring to the hearing before District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl, she said:

      "I knew what the legal outcome had to be — there was no question about it. But emotionally, I couldn’t invest in it. It would just be too crushing if for some reason things went sideways." 5

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2014-NOV-20: University of Wyoming poll finds majority support for marriage equality:

The University's Survey and Analysis Center interviewed 768 adult residents of the state during October. They asked each whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement: "Homosexual couples should be allowed to get married." Results were:

  • 53% agreed with marriage equality.
  • 39% disagreed.
  • 8% had no opinion or did not respond.

The margin of error is ±4 percentage points.

The level of support is just slightly less than that found in recent national polls.

Jim King is a professor of political science at the University and is a co-director of the survey. He said:

"This represents a notable shift in public opinion. Two years ago, 55 percent of Wyomingites disapproved of same-sex marriage and 40 percent approved. We’ve seen a reversal in those numbers.

When we first asked this question in 2004, 27 percent of Wyomingites indicated approval. Every two years, approval would increase by a few percentage points. The rise from 40 percent approval in 2012 to 53 percent approval this year is a significant jump.

The numbers always vary a little, but, nationwide polls have shown increasing support over the years and now indicate around 55 percent of Americans approving.

Self-identified moderates and liberals support same-sex marriage by substantial margins while conservatives remain opposed. However, there also is a difference across age groups, with younger adults being more supportive of same-sex marriage than senior citizens, regardless of the person’s ideology." 6,7

It appears that if an amendment to the state Constitution were voted upon today to ban marriage by same-sex couples, it would be resoundingly defeated.

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Marriage equality has come to the 32nd U.S. state.
No further developments are expected on this topic.

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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. Gregory Nickerson, "Q&A: Al Simpson on same-sex marriage in the Equality State," 2014-OCT-17, at: http://wyofile.com/
  2. Michelle Richinick, "Wyoming becomes 32nd state to legalize gay marriage," MSNBC, 2014-OCT-21, at: http://www.msnbc.com/
  3. Chris Geidner, "Marriage Equality Comes To Wyoming," BuzzFeed News, 2014-OCT-21, at: http://www.buzzfeed.com/
  4. Judy & Dennis Shepard, et al., "Gay marriage in Wyo.: Primer by Matthew Shepard’s parents," Boston Globe, 2014-OCT-24, at: http://www.bostonglobe.com/
  5. Gregory Nickerson, " 'This is history': First same-sex marriage licenses issued in Wyoming," WyoFile, 2014-OCT-221, at: http://wyofile.com/
  6. Hunter Schwarz, "More than half of Wyoming residents now support same-sex marriage, Washington Post, 2014-NOV-24, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
  7. "Poll: Majority of Wyoming residents support marriage equality, LGBTQNATION, 2014-NOV-24, at: http://www.lgbtqnation.com/

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Site navigation: Home > Same-sex marriage > SSM menu > Wyoming > here

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Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 2014-OCT-16
Last updated 2014-DEC-02
Author: Bruce A Robinson
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