Advocates for gay marriage in Wyoming delivered more than 2,300 signed petitions to the Capitol Tuesday, urging Governor Matt Mead and Attorney General Peter Michael to stop defending the state’s gay marriage ban in court.
In March, gay rights advocacy group ‘Wyoming Equality’ sued Governor Mead and other Wyoming officials, arguing that the state ban denied same-sex couples the same basic rights that straight couples enjoy.
Lawyers for Wyoming had asked the Laramie County District Court to suspend the case, known as Courage vs. Wyoming, pending the outcomes of gay marriage lawsuits elsewhere. Last week, the Court denied that request, instead granting a 90-day period for the state to collect evidence before it rules or allows the case to move ahead through the courts.
The Supreme Court has a gay marriage case out of Utah awaiting when justices return in October. But Wyoming Equality chairman Jeran Artery says now is the time for Wyoming leaders to stand up for the state’s same-sex couples.
"Usually, the Wyoming way is to not take guidance and advice from Washington, D.C.," said Artery. "So I thought it was interesting that with this case, we wanted direction from Washington, D.C. This is near and dear to our heart. And the time is now. We don’t want to stay this case."
Most of the signatures were gathered online. AJ McDaniel is among the 2,300 Wyomingites who signed on to the petition, and he showed up to support the effort on the steps of the Capitol.
"My girlfriend and I are wanting to get married in this state, but we can’t right now, because I’m a transgender individual," McDaniel said. "I have a seven-week-old that I—I have no legal rights to him right now because we can’t get married—and it scares me. If something should happen to his mom, you know, he’d become a ward of the state or something instead of coming to me."