Twitter icon

Facebook icon

About us
Our beliefs
Is this your first visit?
Contact us
External links

Recommended books

Visitors' essays
Our forum
New essays
Other features
Buy a CD of this site
Vital notes

World religions
Christian def'n
 Shared beliefs
 Handling change
 Bible topics
 Bible inerrancy
 Bible harmony
 Interpret the Bible
 Beliefs & creeds
 Da Vinci code
 Revelation 666
Other religions
Cults and NRMs
Comparing Religions

Non-theistic beliefs

About all religions
Main topics
Basic information
Gods & Goddesses
Handling change
Doubt & security
Confusing terms
End of the World?
True religion?
Seasonal events
Science vs. Religion
More information

Morality & ethics
Absolute truth

Attaining peace
Religious tolerance
Religious freedom
Religious hatred
Religious conflict
Religious violence

"Hot" topics
Very hot topics
Ten Commandments
Abortion access
Assisted suicide
Death penalty

Same-sex marriage

Human rights
Gays in the military
Sex & gender
Stem cells
Other topics

Laws and news
Religious laws
Religious news



Religious Tolerance logo

Same sex marriage (SSM) in Wyoming

2009: Committee hearing on
the constitutional amendment

Sponsored link.

The committee hearing:

On 2009-FEB-03, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the House Joint Resolution HJ0017 that proposed a constitutional amendment to limit the rights of same-sex couples. As usual, opinions were generally split on party lines:

bulletThe legislation was introduced by Rep. Owen Petersen, (R-Lyman).
bulletRep. Ed Buchanan, (R-Torrington) said: "The reason we are here with this amendment is you can find case law around the country on either side of this issue. Do you want the courts to decide this, or do you want to send this amendment through to the voters of Wyoming?"
bulletRep. Frank Peasley, (R-Douglas) said: "I want the people to look at it."
bulletRep. Joseph Barbuto, (D-Rock Springs) said: "At the end of the day, I can't allow a discrimination clause to have a chance to get in our state constitution."
bulletRep. Mary Throne, (D-Cheyenne) said: "The idea that it's a matter of public policy, that we would do this to anyone in Wyoming, is appalling to me. We don't do this in Wyoming. We don't interfere in neighbors' lives."
bulletRep. Dan Zwonitzer, (R-Cheyenne) broke ranks with fellow Republicans. He was concerned that a public vote would cause Wyoming to be bombarded by ads and phone calls from out-of-state interest groups.
bulletRep. Mary Throne, (D-Cheyenne) suggested that the Legislature not get bogged down on the same-sex marriage debate and instead find ways of tackling real family problems, like the high divorce rate and teen pregnancies. She said: "There's no compelling public policy reason to enshrine discrimination in our constitution. This is not what we are about in this state. We leave people alone."
bulletCommittee member Rep. Erin Mercer, (R-Gillette) said:
"I listened very carefully. ... I know that this issue is going to be decided in this state by the Legislature, the courts or the people. This is about the vote of the people for me. This is about democracy for me." 1,2

Members of the public and representatives of religious and civil rights organizations testified at the hearing:

bullet Some argued that the Resolution 17 is a stealth amendment. 3 It is being promoted to prevent same-sex marriages from being conducted or recognized in Wyoming. But some claim that it would also prevent the state's recognition of any type of same-sex relationship including civil unions. Jason Marsden, who lives with his male partner in Casper, WY said: "I don't think it was an accident that the bill was written that way.
bullet Austin Nimocks, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund a fundamentalist Christian legal defense group who is opposed to marriage equality expressed concern that same-sex couples might marry elsewhere and later seek a divorce in Wyoming. He said: "Does the definition of marriage belong to the courts of Wyoming or to the people?" He predicts that it is just a matter of time before a SSM in another state comes before the Wyoming courts. He rejected the concept that the resolution would take away rights from same-sex couples. He said that children have a right to be brought up in a family led by a mother and father. He also raised the specter of polygamy. He said: "What is to stop a commitment of three or a commitment of four. So I think it's important to recognize the slippery slope we are on."
bulletJason Marsden said: "This bill has nothing to do with how people are going to raise their kids. Passing this bill is not going to help children in any way." He suggested that if marriage is about children, then why stop at restricting same-sex couples; why not clamp down on infertile and elderly married couples? He said: "You've got to go back into your statutes and make sure these people reproduce."
bullet Ed Buchanan, a lawyer from Torrington, WY supported the bill, noting that: "Most of the states around us have constitutional amendments" that prohibit same-sex marriage.
bulletThe Rev. Dee Lundberg of the United Church of Christ in Casper was concerned about a rise in hatred against same-sex couples. She testified: "If this goes to a vote, there will be more hate crimes."
bulletLinda Burt of the Wyoming American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said, "Regardless of what happens today, the courts in Wyoming are going to deal with these issues. ... What [the amendment would do] ... is discriminate against a certain population of our state." 1,2

There were 13 comments posted to the Casper Star Tribune article: one favorable to the committee's action, and 12 condemning the proposed amendment. (Spelling and punctuation corrected) Seven of them were:

bullet"69Ford" wrote: "Hallelujah."
bullet"For Shame" wrote: " 'Equality State' my a--. "
bullet"Oldmunchkin" wrote: "Well, if it ever gets to an actual vote of the people, I know how I'll vote. Gay marriage doesn't affect my lifestyle in the least. It also doesn't scare me, like it seems to do to others, including some of our lawmakers!"
bullet"Slow Wyoming" wrote: "This is unconstitutional. It's the civil and women's right movement all over again. Are we really going to pass law against people's rights? Have we learn nothing of the past 50 or so years when we try to suppress a group of peoples rights. This bill doesn't just get rid of gay marriages but also civil unions. Some people may thing marriage is a religious thing but civil unions aren't and we should not take someone's happiness away. If we need to call it something other than marriage then lets do it. We need to give them their rights. We do want them to pay taxes but not to give them rights. That's not cool. We need to pass laws to fix the Juvenile System and work on the economy of Wyoming, not pass law that bans people's rights."
bullet"Shelley" wrote: "The "Anti's" of the ADF strike again. Gee, I feel so much better now that mob rule can reign and 'the people' can vote on restricting the civil rights of a small group of people. NOT. This is ridiculous...Equality State my a--. It's not ok to vote discrimination into the constitution. Shame on Peasley, Buchanan, and the other 3 bigots who passed this through committee."
bullet"Cowboy Joe" wrote: "A sad day. The equality state's elected officials show an amazing lack of compassion and understanding."
bullet"Man from Casper" wrote: "A note to the editors and writers of the Casper Star-Tribune: If you want to write an interesting story about marriage, why not research and discuss why Wyoming has one of the highest divorce rates in the U.S.? Then you write how statistically, for Wyoming, divorce is a much, much greater threat to traditional marriage than gay marriage. You could mention that Massachusetts is a very liberal state that not only sanctions gay marriage, but also has one the lowest divorce rates in the nation. Now this would be a great story." 1

The committee approved the bill 5 to 4, sending it to the full House for debate. It had to receive 2/3 support in both the House and Senate, and be approved by the governor  before being placed on the 2010-NOV ballot.

Senate Joint Resolution 2, "Defense of Marriage-Constitutional Amendment, is identical to the House resolution. It was assigned to the Senate Education Committee. 2

Sources in early 2009-FEB disagreed about whether that committee had yet to schedule a hearing on it, or whether the committee had considered and killed the resolution. It is a moot point, because the resolution can only proceed if both the Senate and House pass it with a 2/3 majority. The House rejected the resolution.

Site navigation:

Home > Religious info. > Basic > Marriage > SSM > Menu > Wyoming > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > SSM > Menu > Wyoming > here

References used:

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

  1. Marjorie Korn, "Wyo. House committee approves gay marriage bill," Associated Press, 2009-FEB-03, at:
  2. Bill McCarthy, "Lawmakers say "I do" to ignoring gay marriage," Wyoming Tribune Eagle, 2009-FEB-04, at:
  3. "Text of: House Joint Resolution No. HJ0017, State of Wyoming, 2009, at:

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

line.gif (538 bytes)
Sponsored link

Go to the previous page, or return to the Same-sex marriage in Wyoming menu, or choose:

To search this website:

Click on one of the links ^^ above at the < < left, or use this search bar:

search tips advanced search
search engine by freefind

Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?

Twitter link

Facebook icon

Google Page Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.

Sponsored links: