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Religious Tolerance logo

Same sex marriage (SSM) in Wyoming

2009: House vote on the constitutional amendment

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House debate:

Twelve Republicans cosponsored House Joint Resolution # HJ0017 titled "Defense of marriage."1 It would modify the Wyoming constitution to prevent same-sex marriages (SSM), civil unions, domestic partnerships, and any other recognition of loving, committed same-sex couples other than as legal strangers -- simple roommates.

The House debated the resolution on 2009-FEB-06.

The debate was impassioned, but only lasted an hour.

bullet Rep. Owen Petersen (R) said:

"It's my opinion that voters should be allowed to express their opinion on this social issue, and not leave the matter to the courts or some other source. Ladies and gentlemen, marriage is not the possession of the government. ... It is a society policy decision that needs to be done," 2,5

bullet Rep. Pat Childers, (R-Cody) revealed that one of his daughters is a lesbian and lives with her partner in Montana. He said:

"Folks, till my dying breath there isn?t anybody in this country who could say that she is a terrible person, or someone that needs to have their rights restricted."

bullet Rep. Edward Buchanan, (R-Torrington), said:

"If two people of the same sex can marry, why can?t heterosexual couples have more than one spouse? I'm saying you've got to make this decision."

bullet Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, (R-Cheyenne), expressed concern about state's reputation if the resolution is passed. He said:

"If we let this out of the (Legislature), our state will be ripped apart at the seams."

bullet Rep. Sue Wallis, (R-Recluse), said the resolution is similar to "state-sponsored bigotry." She believes that it is based on antiquated religious prohibitions found in the book of Leviticus in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). She quoted many other admonitions from the Mosaic code, including prohibitions on shaving, haircuts, tattoos, charging interest on loaned money and gathering firewood on Saturday -- all of which are ignored today by followers of most religions. She commented on speeches by Gov. Dave Freudenthal and former U.S. Senator Alan Simpson earlier in the legislative session that urged the Legislature to avoid hot-button social issues. She concluded:
"The bill doesn?t belong in the Legislature when there is so much other work to do."

bullet Rep. Patrick Goggles, (D-Ethete) opposed the resolution because he believes that he must represent all his constituents, which include gays and lesbians. He said:
"I look upon this state as the Equality State and I urge you to maintain that status as the Equality State." 5

The vote:

The House defeated the resolution by a vote of 35 opposed to 25 in favor. It would have required forty or more votes in support to achieve a 2/3 majority and allow the resolution to proceed.

bullet Among the 25 representatives supporting the resolution to ban recognition of same-sex couples, all were Republicans.

bullet Among those opposing the resolution, were 15 were Republicans; 20 were Democrats. 3

According to Family Net Radio on Sirius satellite radio, religious and social conservatives were surprised when ten representatives, who had been expected to vote in support of the resolution, changed their mind and opposed the bill.

Some comments made after the failure of the resolution:

bullet Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) a gay-positive group, said:

"We are grateful that the Wyoming House of Representatives stood up for equality and refused to write discrimination into the state constitution. We congratulate Representative Cathy Connolly and the 34 other representatives who voted against the resolution, as well as Wyoming Equality and HRC members who urged their representatives to stand up for equality."2

bullet Becky Vandeberghe, chairperson of WyWatch Family Institute -- a group that supports families led by opposite-sex parents but opposes those led by same-sex parents -- said:
"The elitist legislators decided not to accurately represent the people of Wyoming, and we certainly do hope that their constituents will take a look at their voting record and keep track of it for the election in 2010." 5

She promises to promote similar legislation in the future.

bullet Representative Cathy Connolly said:
"I am thrilled and proud that my colleagues took a stand against writing discrimination into Wyoming's constitution."2

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. "Text of: House Joint Resolution No. HJ0017, State of Wyoming, 2009, at:
  2. Wyoming House of Representatives Rejects Marriage Amendment. Proposed amendment would have written discrimination into Wyoming constitution," Human Rights Campaign, 2009-FEB-07, at:
  3. "How Wyo. House members voted on gay marriage bill," Associated Press, 2009-FEB-06, at:
  4. "U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, # 06-623," at:
  5. Jared Miller, "Gay marriage ban falls in House," Star-Tribune, 2009-FEB-06, at:

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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