Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Wyoming to ban marriage but pass Civil Unions?

Timothy Kincaid

January 24th, 2011

Wyoming has been a bit of a question when it comes to marriage equality. State law did not prohibit recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages, but no state agency had done so. Today, the House passed a bill to ban recognition of out of state marriage and civil unions by a 32-27 vote.

Considering that the House has 41 Republicans and 19 Democrats, this was a rather close vote. The bill now goes to the State Senate, which has a 23 to 7 Republican majority. (trib)

State Rep. Owen Petersen, R-Mountain View, the bill’s sponsor, said the legislation is needed to resolve a conflict in Wyoming law, which defines marriage as a contract “between a male and a female person” but also recognizes any valid marriage performed outside the state. Other supporters have said the bill will help to hold back government intrusion into Wyoming traditions and culture.

And on Friday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage by a 3-2 vote. Although an amendment would require support from 20 Senators and 40 House members, and some Republicans are on record as supporting marriage-equality, it has strong support and could pass.

But while this is all troubling news, state legislators may prove unwilling to completely disregard the state’s motto, “Equal Rights,” or its it’s nickname, “The Equality State.” They may instead take a middle position that allows them to be “The (separation but) Equality State”. (trib)

This week, the House Judiciary Committee will take up legislation to establish civil unions in Wyoming that would give same-sex couples in the state the same legal rights and benefits as married couples.

The bill, House Bill 150, appears to have the votes to pass the Judiciary Committee.

State Rep. Cathy Connolly, the Laramie Democrat who’s sponsoring HB150, said she’s “very optimistic” the bill will pass the full House, as many gay marriage opponents have said they support civil unions.

Governor Matt Mead (R) has also indicated that he is open to the idea of civil unions. If House Bill 150 becomes law, it would be the first time that an overwhelmingly Republican state government had supported recognition on this level for same-sex couples.

I strongly believe that civil unions are inferior to marriage and that our community ought to strive for full equality. But absent that political possibility, I consider each small step towards equality to be a victory. And if civil unions is seen as supportable for western-state libertarian-minded Republicans, then our community certainly has something to celebrate.

Comments

POST COMMENT | COMMENT RSS 2.0

Ben in Oakland
January 24th, 2011 | LINK

One other positive thing. If it all hgoes as you layed out, civil unions only iwll be the law, with no possiiblity of marriage.

What will the NOMsters have to say to that?

Ray
January 24th, 2011 | LINK

[applauding politely]. It’s a step forward toward the ultimate goal so, yeah. Take it.

Ray
January 24th, 2011 | LINK

Good question, Ben. Will NOM say “Let the people decide” if a Republican majority enacts civil unions? They’ve done that in similar venues.

Timothy Kincaid
January 24th, 2011 | LINK

NOM opposes ALL recognition for same-sex couples. However, NOM is entirely unethical and dishonest and will completely lie and say that they don’t oppose civil unions (e.g. in California) if the alternative is marriage.

I predict that they oppose the civil unions bill.

cowboy
January 24th, 2011 | LINK

Would any major Fortune 500 Corporation relocate or open a branch in Wyoming with such “traditions and culture” Mr. Petersen esposes?

They probably don’t care. But, realistically, this pushes Wyoming to far back on the list and any new business certainly would have to give this Wyoming mentality a thought before they moved offices into that State. There has to be some gays who would refuse to move to Wyoming because of this. Not good for economic recovery.

Of all the people I know in Wyoming, they really don’t care if I were married. They wish for me to have the same benefits as themselves.

It seems to me that Mr. Petersen is just being spiteful towards gays for some reason. And the only reason I can think of is his connection as a earnest Mormon.

stefan
January 24th, 2011 | LINK

I doubt the constitutional ban on gay marriage will pass honestly, and I’m pretty confident civil unions will.

Lindoro Almaviva
January 24th, 2011 | LINK

I keep looking at all these and I just have to laugh. It is only a matter of time before all these laws that violate the full credit clause of the constitution are challenged in court and the supreme court is forced to take on the issue and (again) forced to throw them out. For me this is black and white.

The saddest part is that when (not if) the supreme court does that, all the legislators who jumped at the chance of keeping an entire class of people separate from them will see their legacies stained forever.

This is the 2nd coming of Jim Crow and we all know what happened to those who sided with them when it was all said and done.

How stupid are these people not to see that? Does history not show us anything?

Throbert McGee
January 24th, 2011 | LINK

I predict that they oppose the civil unions bill.

Wow, Miss Cleo, that really takes some impressive psychic ability.

Look, if the gay community sends the message loud and clear (and we do) that…

civil unions are inferior to marriage and that our community ought to strive for full equality. [and by “equality” we mean same-sex marriage]

…and that civil unions are not intended to be the “end game” or a permanent state of affairs but rather a…

small step towards equality establishing same-sex marriage

…then how is it anything other than COMPLETELY AND IMPECCABLY RATIONAL that opponents of same-sex marriage should also oppose civil-unions and domestic partnerships?

Don’t think civil-unions are good enough? Fine. But if we as a community are going to say over and over and over, by our words and actions, that we consider CUs/DPs to be nothing more than an expedient stepping stone to “Fully Equal Marriage,” then it’s hardly newsworthy — let alone an underhanded and morally outrageous surprise attack — when people who don’t want same-sex marriage to become law in their state take the preemptive step of banning CUs/DPs.

It’s simple commonsense for them to do so.

Mark F.
January 24th, 2011 | LINK

At this point, civil unions are okay since the Federal government doesn’t recognize same sex marriage anyway. Let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Throbert McGee
January 24th, 2011 | LINK

Mark F.: I agree, but I’d go one step farther — if the Federal government actually recognized same-sex civil unions, I think it would be a waste of the gay community’s time and resources to go on waging a battle for Federal same-sex marriage.

Hell, I’d even vote for an FMA defining marriage as “one-man, one-woman”, provided the Amendment also contained a clause that guaranteed same-sex couples the right to federally-recognized civil unions. (Of course, I’m not holding my breath waiting for that to happen, but I don’t personally have a “problem” with that outcome.)

Which is another way of saying that I utterly reject the “Separate Is Never Equal” argument in the context of legal recognition for our relationships, and I believe that the difference between Marriage and Civil Unions may exist, ultimately, in our gay heads.

C
January 24th, 2011 | LINK

So, if a Canadian gay couple are visiting and one ends up in a Wyoming hospital, the spouse will not be allowed to visit? The legal Canadian marriage would not be recognized?

Patrick Garies
January 25th, 2011 | LINK

@Throbert McGee: Everyone sees the writing on the wall whether it’s said or not. Proponents and opponents alike recognize that we want full equality and that civil unions are not equal to marriage. There’s simply no way to hide those facts.

The opposition is not “COMPLETELY AND IMPECCABLY RATIONAL” because any slippery slope type of opposition to civil unions or domestic partnerships is based on the irrational premise that same-sex marriage or gay people are inherently bad. In other words, while a decision to oppose CUs or DPs because of SSM is rational per se, it is not rational when you look at the greater context.

Further, I wouldn’t call incrementalism “underhanded and morally outrageous surprise attack.” You have to ask /why/ such moves tend to lead to same-sex marriage rather than simply pointing out that they tend to do so; most people haven’t seriously given this issue thought and such moves lead to a greater discussion that removes a veil of ignorance.

What /is/ outrageous is when people deny, omit, or distort facts to achieve a goal. It’s virtually guaranteed that any opposition to CUs and DPs will gloss over this “why” part because that opens up the issue to discussion of the facts. For example, they will say that CUs in Connecticut or New Hampshire led to marriage, but they won’t say that it’s because CUs proved to be inferior (which leads to a whole discussion on civil rights) or because people tried the “dangerous social experiment” with no ill consequences.

customartist
January 25th, 2011 | LINK

“2nd coming of Jim Crow” – Precisely!

What is important to me, is that Federal Marriage IN-Equality costs me now over $4k per year. Yes, I have run the exact numbers. This is money that could help to pay off my mortgage, etc, etc.

Over a marital lifetime this can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This is Financial Opression purely and simply, not to ignore the social aspects, and this will affect older Gay couples much more than Younger ones.

There is real and Current harm caused every day that the Marriages of Gays are not recognized by the Federal Government.

So does the Religious Right think it is positive to place 10 to 12 percent of the population in a financial lower class?

Priya Lynn
January 25th, 2011 | LINK

Throbert said “how is it anything other than COMPLETELY AND IMPECCABLY RATIONAL that opponents of same-sex marriage should also oppose civil-unions and domestic partnerships?”

Because its completely irrational to oppose same sex marriage or any steps in that direction.

Throbert said “if we as a community are going to say over and over and over, by our words and actions, that we consider CUs/DPs to be nothing more than an expedient stepping stone to “Fully Equal Marriage,” then it’s hardly newsworthy — let alone an underhanded and morally outrageous surprise attack — when people who don’t want same-sex marriage to become law in their state take the preemptive step of banning CUs/DPs.”.

It may not be surprising, but it certainly is an underhanded and morally outrageous attack.

Throbert said “It’s simple commonsense for them to do so.”.

No, its nonsensical for them to do so. Commensense says everyone deserves equal rights and there is nothing wrong with actions such as same sex marriage that harm no one.

C asked “So, if a Canadian gay couple are visiting and one ends up in a Wyoming hospital, the spouse will not be allowed to visit? The legal Canadian marriage would not be recognized?”.

The legal Canadian marriage would not be recognized and the spouse may or may not be allowed to visit as he/she will be deemed to have no right to do so.

Timothy Kincaid
January 25th, 2011 | LINK

Throbert,

No, I don’t think it is underhanded or outrageous to oppose civil unions. Wrong-headed, prejudiced, and arrogant but not sneaky.

What is underhanded and outrageous is to pretend that you don’t oppose civil unions where that position will cause you to be seen as a troglodyte (such as California) while then in conservative areas showing your real colors.

The difference between our community and NOM (etc.) on this issue is that we are honest about our goals, our reasons, and our motivations. We are striving for full social and civil equality; we accept and celebrate steps in that direction but we never deny that equality is our goal.

If NOM were honest, they would admit that their goal is exactly the opposite of ours: social and civil condemnation of homosexuality. The more the better.

Houndentenor
January 25th, 2011 | LINK

Civil Unions is the best deal we are going to get in Wyoming (and about half the other states) any time soon. No, it’s not equality but it offers some rights to couples which is better than having none.

Throbert McGee
January 25th, 2011 | LINK

No, it’s not equality

How is a Civil Union that’s recognized in California (but not recognized by the Federal government or 40+ other states) one whit “less equal” than a Marriage that’s recognized in Massachusetts (but not recognized by the Federal government or 40+ other states)?

I fully agree that equality should be our goal and that we lack equality now; but I maintain that “civil unions” or “domestic partnerships” that were recognized in all 50 states and by the Federal government (and including such important spousal privileges as the ability to sponsor a foreign-national partner for a green card, etc.) would be equality.

I also maintain that our gay tendency to disparage CUs/DPs as “second class” while frenetically chasing after the word “marriage” is little more than a superstition we have talked ourselves into by repeatedly chanting about “Jim Crow!” and “Separate Is Not Equal!” in fashionable imitation of all the other gay people who are chanting “Jim Crow, Separate Is Not Equal!” (While ignoring such trifling realities as the fact that many Jim Crow states imposed mandatory segregation on private businesses, and was not merely a policy about government-owned facilities; and furthermore that Jim Crow involved the sharing — or not sharing — of finite tangibles such as city buses and school buildings, so that every building designated “all white” meant one less building available for black schoolchildren. Which is to say there was a “zero sum” aspect to racial segregation that simply doesn’t exist when you’re talking about, e.g., medical Power of Attorney, which isn’t an exhaustible commodity.)

And this superstitious infatuation with a word may make for good cheerleading to rile up the Gay Crowd and get us to pull out our wallets, but it does have a real-world negative cost: it creates a disincentive for “moderate conservatives” who oppose SSM to support CUs/DPs, and thereby distance themselves from the hardcore religious right that would prefer to see us have no legal recognition at all.

Throbert McGee
January 25th, 2011 | LINK

I would admit, finally, that there is a “specialness” to the word marriage that is lacking in CUs/DPs.

But I also insist that the word marriage has a special cachet for much the same that the word f*ck is dirty: because of a general consensus among native English speakers that marriage is “special” and the F-word is “dirty.” But neither word gets its peculiar quality from the fiat of the government (or the Grand High Council of Dictionary Editors) — nor will this ever be the case.

And if the general majority consensus turns out to be that heterosexual Marriage is real and special but homosexual “Marriage” is a phony-baloney gummint construct requiring scare quotes, then how exactly is having Marriage more advantageous to us than having Federal Domestic Partnership (i.e., assuming that all the rights/privileges that CAN be created by fiat are there)??

To put it another way, I think that DPs/CUs and the rights they confer are worth fighting for whether the hetero majority wants it or not. But I don’t see any added value to having SSM unless and until it can win in popular referendums.

Bruno
January 25th, 2011 | LINK

@Throbert McGee: “How is a Civil Union that’s recognized in California (but not recognized by the Federal government or 40+ other states) one whit “less equal” than a Marriage that’s recognized in Massachusetts (but not recognized by the Federal government or 40+ other states)? ”

The Mass. marriage would be more easily recognized than the California DP in countries that recognize same-sex marriages, such as Israel.

Priya Lynn
January 25th, 2011 | LINK

Throbert, experience has shown that in states with civil unions that are supposed to be the equivalent of marriage they are not. They are not recognized as marriages and given the same rights as marriages by many businesses, insurance companies, and hospitals. Further, marriages will be recognized as such by other equal marriage counties (and some that don’t allow equal marriage) whereas civil unions will not.

If civil unions really were the equivalent of marriage the opponents would have no problem calling them marriage. That they are unwilling to do so proves they are not as good. Further, with two different types of unions there is no guarantee that future changes to marriage laws will automatically be mirrored in the supposedly equal civil unions, in fact its highly unlikely they would be.

Throbert McGee
January 25th, 2011 | LINK

The Mass. marriage would be more easily recognized than the California DP in countries that recognize same-sex marriages, such as Israel.

Actually, that would be up to the discretion of the Israelis — they could quite reasonably choose to recognize neither the Mass. marriages nor the Cal. DPs so long as the US Federal government recognizes neither one.

Or, if Federal DPs became reality in the US, the Israeli government could choose to recognize those relationships as being on the same footing as Norwegian SSMs, completely ignoring the terminological difference between “marriage” and “DP” — again, that’s up the discretion of Israel.

And in principle, a foreign government where the Catholic Church (for example) has a lot of political pull could choose to recognize same-sex DPs/CUs from other countries, but NOT to recognize same-sex marriage from other countries (in order to legally accommodate gay couples while still showing some deference to religious sentiments).

But at any rate, there are something like 190 countries in the world besides the US and Israel, and recognition of same-sex relationships (under whatever name) would be a matter of bilateral agreement between the US and any individual country.

Thus, I don’t find the “international portability” argument to be a very compelling reason for saying that DPs/CUs are inferior to SSM — American DPs/CUs would be fully “portable” to any country that chooses to recognize them, while American SSMs would be totally non-portable to countries unwilling to recognize them.

Priya Lynn
January 25th, 2011 | LINK

Throbert said “American DPs/CUs would be fully “portable” to any country that chooses to recognize them, while American SSMs would be totally non-portable to countries unwilling to recognize them.”.

No country has ever recognized another countries civil unions or domestic partnerships. Many countries have recognized other countries same sex marriages. Once again, marriage is superior to civil unions or domestic partnerships. Your attempts to spin this as some countries being willing to acknowledge civil unions or domestic partnerships but not marriage falls flat on its face.

Timothy Kincaid
January 26th, 2011 | LINK

But at any rate, there are something like 190 countries in the world besides the US and Israel, and recognition of same-sex relationships (under whatever name) would be a matter of bilateral agreement between the US and any individual country.

vs.

No country has ever recognized another countries civil unions or domestic partnerships.

As I will illustrate in a soon commentary, both of these are factually incorrect.

L. Junius Brutus
January 26th, 2011 | LINK

Civil unions are not equal to marriage, but to call it “separate but equal” is only half-true. Segregated facilities were not just segregated, they actually weren’t equal in quality.

“Marriage or nothing” does a whole lot of damage to real people, especially when you’re talking about Wyoming, where there’s no real prospect of gay marriage. On the other hand, if you’d criticize Hawai’i for passing civil unions and ot marriage, that’d be understandable.

Bruno
January 26th, 2011 | LINK

@Throbert: I said “would be more easily recognized,” meaning it’s more likely a foreign country would recognize a “marriage” than a “civil union” or “domestic partnership.” I think that would be compelling reason enough.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required)
(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.