Civil unions dropped from Wyoming anti-marriage bill

Timothy Kincaid

March 1st, 2011

House Bill 74 would ban the recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages. Wyoming law, which was written before the first same-sex marriages, defines marriage as a contract “between a male and a female person” but also recognizes any valid marriage performed outside the state – a discrepancy which put same-sex marriages in limbo.

HB74 has passed both the Wyoming House and Senate, but in sharply different versions. Both banned the recognition of civil unions, but the Senate provided that state courts could address the dissolution of civil unions from other states and the House specifically banned courts from addressing such couples.

Until a few hours ago, it looked as though this bill might die due to an inability of the committee assigned to work out the discrepancy to reach any conclusion. The Senate had barely passed the bill and the Governor had indicated that he would veto the bill if it did not allow courts to remedy the legal problems of gay couples in a civil union. But the House was insistent that allowing same-sex couples to seek resolution in court was tantamount to giving the state’s sanction to their union.

Finally, the least likely of compromises was reached

But with the Legislature set to adjourn for the year on Thursday, the conference committee took out all language dealing with civil unions and court access.

Conference committee members said the changes bring the bill closer to other states’ Defense of Marriage acts. They also said it was better to have a narrowed bill than no bill at all, and they said it would be up to future Legislatures to tackle the issue of civil unions.

It must now go back to the House and Senate for approval of the revisions.

Bryan

March 1st, 2011

Does this have a chance of passing now?

embarcadero

March 1st, 2011

Yes, this bill can pass. It’s badly wounded, and it will face a very significant fight in the Senate.

It will likely be read in the House tomorrow at 11:00 AM (according to the current schedule); if it passes, it will be read in the Senate about 2:00 PM tomorrow.

If you want to follow it, try here:

http://www.facebook.com/wywatchwatchers
http://www.facebook.com/wyomingglbtnews

Twitter: @wywatch

If you would like to write or call a Wyoming legislator, please look at the FB page listed above, as we’re focusing on a relatively small group of swing votes in the House and the Senate.

embarcadero

March 1st, 2011

Sorry, the corrected links are:

http://www.facebook.com/WyWatch.Watchers

and

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wyoming-GLBT-News/143163255736396

The Twitter feed for the group (on Twitter anyway) that is most closely watching this issue is, as advertised:

@WyWatch

BTW – WyWatch is a Wyoming-based anti-gay group (supported by FRC, FOTF, ADF), WyWatch Watchers is a group of activists and concerned citizens who have organized against this group.

Apologies for the mistaken links/confusing nomenclature.

Embarcadero

March 2nd, 2011

House just voted 31-28 to approve changes to HB74, banning recognition of out-of-state gay marriages.

Goes to Senate this afternoon.

At the last minute, Rep. Harshman (R-Casper) changed his vote to “aye”;

Embarcadero

March 2nd, 2011

It gets worse.

Rep. Harshman, the Phys. Ed teacher and Republican representative from Casper, told reporters that he cast the deciding vote to enshrine homophobic discrimination into state law because he “wasn’t paying attention.”

Detail: a minimum of 31 votes are needed to pass in the Wyoming House.

Check the FB pages for updates, if you want them.

There are plenty of us who happen to be paying attention.

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