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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 4, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 09
Anti-Gay legislation stalls in Wyoming
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Anti-Gay legislation stalls in Wyoming

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Anti-Gay bills being considered by the Wyoming state legislature have run into trouble and may not pass before the legislature adjourns March 3.

A bill that would prohibit Wyoming from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions stalled in the state Senate because the Senate version of the bill did not agree with the House version.

Wyoming's House of Representatives passed a bill to invalidate same-sex marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships, and prohibit Wyoming courts from resolving disputes between same-sex couples.

The Senate then amended the House bill to allow couples in civil unions from other jurisdictions to use the state's court system to resolve their differences.

A conference committee of Senators and House members struck a surprise last-minute deal on March 1, allowing the measure to go forward.

The six-member committee punted on the two most contentious issues surrounding the bill: civil unions and court access for same-sex couples.

By a 4-2 vote, the committee narrowed House Bill 74 to invalidate only same-sex marriages from other states and countries.

The changes must now be approved by the House, then by the Senate before the legislature's scheduled adjournment.

The bill is likely to face the most opposition in the Senate, which passed its version of the measure by a slim 16-14 margin. The House passed its version 32-27.

Supporters of the legislation said it would 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.

In November, a Wyoming district court judge refused to grant a divorce to a Lesbian couple married in Canada, on the grounds that the state does not consider them married in the first place.

The couple has appealed the case to the Wyoming Supreme Court.

A proposal that would have asked Wyoming voters about amending the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage died after the House missed a procedural deadline.

The Wyoming House adjourned on February 25 without taking action on the proposed amendment. It had previously passed the Senate.

Passing the measure would have required a two-thirds vote in both houses, and House Republican leaders told reporters they thought it would be a waste of time to debate a bill that lacked the necessary votes to pass.

Had it passed, the amendment would have gone to the voters in 2012.

A Democratic bill to allow same-sex civil unions was killed by a House committee in January.

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