Wyoming Equality

Miles Bryan

Same sex marriage is now legal in Wyoming, which means same sex couples now have access to all the legal rights that come with marriage. Even so, some disparities remain. For one, Wyoming lacks any legal protection for LGBT people in employment. That means gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the Cowboy State may be able to be legally married, but they may also be legally fired.

Sushiesque via Flickr

As of yesterday morning, same-sex marriage is now legal in Wyoming. Wyoming Public Radio’s Miles Bryan has been following the story, and he joined Morning Edition Host Caroline Ballard in the studio to break down what’s been going on.

  

Aaron Schrank/WPR

The gay rights advocacy group that has been fighting Wyoming’s gay marriage ban in state court for the past year celebrated the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state Tuesday.

Wyoming Equality’s executive director Jeran Artery stood outside the Cheyenne court house and watched two couples emerge with marriage licenses--and then tie the knot in brief official ceremonies near the court house entrance. 

Artery says this is what his group has been working for.

Aaron Schrank/WPR

On Tuesday morning Wyoming county clerks began issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples for the first time in the state’s history. Wyoming Public Radio’s Miles Bryan was at the Albany County Courthouse for that historic event, while Wyoming Public Radio’s Aaron Schrank was in Cheyenne, at the Laramie County Courthouse. Together, they have this report.

County clerks all across Wyoming should begin issuing same sex marriage licenses Tuesday morning.

This comes after Wyoming’s Attorney General said the state would not appeal last week’s federal court ruling that overturned Wyoming’s same sex marriage ban.

Cheyenne resident AJ McDaniel plans to get his marriage license as soon as he can. He says he had a wedding party last week.

“And we did the whole wedding ceremony and the church and reception for all our friends and family. So now we are just really excited to make it legal.”

A federal judge has overturned Wyoming’s ban on same sex marriage.

The court has ordered that Wyoming must begin issuing same sex marriage licenses, but it has stayed that order until next Thursday, or until the State decides not to appeal the ruling.

“I’ve reached out to the State Attorney General’s office and asked them if they would file a notice with the court indicating they don’t intend to appeal,” says James Lyman, an attorney with the plaintiffs. “If they do not appeal the order will go into effect immediately. I have not yet received a response from them.”

Sushiesque via Flickr

On Thursday, a federal court in Casper heard arguments on whether Wyoming needed to start issuing same sex marriage licenses. The courtroom was packed, but the hearing only went on for about an hour.

Federal Judge Scott Skavdahl heard same sex marriage advocates argue that because the 10th circuit court in Denver ruled earlier that same sex marriage bans were unconstitutional Wyoming needed to allow same sex marriage immediately.

A federal court hearing next week could enable same-sex couples to begin getting marriage licenses in Wyoming. Four same-sex couples and a gay-rights advocacy group filed suit Tuesday seeking the right to marry in Wyoming. U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl will consider their request to decide immediately on gay marriage in Wyoming at next Thursday's hearing in Casper.   

Mark Fischer via Flickr

On Monday the United State Supreme Court declined to hear challenges to federal court rulings that had overturned bans on gay marriage in states across the country. One of those federal courts was the 10th circuit court, which is based in Denver and has authority over Wyoming.

David via Flickr

Monday’s Supreme Court decision not to review state gay marriage bans that had been overturned in federal courts means that the highest legal authority in Wyoming recognizes gay marriage. But how soon same sex marriage licenses will be issued in the state remains unclear.

That’s because a state statute defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Wyoming Equality is an advocacy group challenging that law in state court. Group lawyer Thomas Lyman says regardless of the outcome of his case gay marriage is now legal in Wyoming.

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to hear appeals from states seeking to prohibit same sex marriage this term. But a Wyoming lawsuit may still need to go through the system before gay marriage is allowed in this state.

Sushiesque via Flickr

A new study claims that Wyoming is missing out on millions of dollars of lost business by not legalizing same sex marriage.

The study comes from the Williams Institute, a think tank housed at the University of California Los Angeles. It claims that Wyoming would see over two million dollars in new revenues in the first few years after gay marriage is legalized.

Aaron Schrank/WPR

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.

wyomingequality.org

Public opinion in Wyoming has radically shifted toward legalizing same sex marriage in the last decade.  Bills, both legalizing and banning, have been introduced in the state legislature. But nothing has passed.  And lawmakers are slow to acknowledge the shift in public opinion. But as Wyoming Public Radio’s Erin Jones reports, the legislature might not be where the change happens.

ERIN JONES: State Representative Matt Greene grew up without gay marriage on his mind.

More than 50 Wyoming lawyers are expressing support for a group's effort to change state law to allow same-sex couples to marry.
 
A group called Wyoming Equality is challenging the state prohibition against same-sex marriage in state court. Group Chairman Jeran Artery says he hopes the lawyers' support sparks a statewide debate.
 
Wyoming Equality and four same-sex Wyoming couples filed a lawsuit earlier this year challenging the state law that defines marriage as existing only between a man and a woman.
 

This week a new statewide public education campaign was launched called Wyoming unites for marriage.  The idea is to get support for same sex couples.  Earlier this year a lawsuit was filed to try and make same sex marriage legal in Wyoming.  Jeran Artery of the group Wyoming Equality tells Bob Beck that the lawsuit seems like the quickest way to get equality.

Same Sex Marriage Supporters Turn Out

Mar 17, 2014

Supporters from all walks of life attended the kickoff of a new statewide education campaign that is intended to draw support for same sex marriage.  Four same sex couples and the “gay rights” advocacy group Wyoming equality filed lawsuit challenging Wyoming’s law that says marriage can only be between a man and a woman. 

Wyoming Equality Chairman Jeran Artery says the issue is important to many people.                

The U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act will not change state laws regarding whether gay couples can marry. But gay rights activists say they hope the ruling will be an important step toward marriage equality in Wyoming.

Jeran Artery with the group Wyoming Equality says after today’s decision, his group is considering several options to try to get gay marriage legalized here.