Wyoming Anti-Marriage Bill Fails in Senate
March 03, 2011
A bill prohibiting Wyoming from recognizing the marriages of gay couples who got married out-of-state was voted down in the Senate 16 to 14 after being passed by the House. Wyoming has a law that defines marriage as being only between a man and a woman, but it also recognizes marriages performed elsewhere. An earlier version of the bill went so far as to bar recognition of civil unions for gay couples, and to block access to the courts for married gay couples who want to get divorced. Those two sections were taken out because of objections in the Senate.
The issue came up because last year, a state judge refused to grant a divorce to a lesbian couple who had gotten married in Canada. That case has been appealed to the state Supreme Court. The two Republican Senators who doomed the bill by voting against it said they could not support the bill if it did not guarantee court access for married gay couples.
The bill did pass the House, but not before a passionate debate that included some Republicans in opposition. "This bill does nothing more than to strip away liberties that have been granted by other states," said Rep. Ruth Petroff (R). "We go from being 'The Equality State' to 'The Strip-Away-Liberty State.'"
Rep. Pat Childers (R), who has a lesbian daughter, said the bill violated both the Wyoming and U.S. constitutions.
"This isn’t right," he said. He also rejected claims that gay people are somehow not as good at raising children, saying "Both of my sons would be more than happy to let any one of my grandchildren go to my daughter to be raised."
An constitutional amendment excluding gay couples from marriage died in the House last week. The legislature adjourns for the year tomorrow, so these mean-spirited measures won't be coming back any time soon.