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Wyoming GOP plans to reintroduce defense of marriage measure

Saturday, January 1, 2011
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Republican legislators in Wyoming are planning to reintroduce a defense of marriage law that would bar the state from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states.

State Rep. Owen Petersen (R-Mountain View) and State Sen. Curt Meier (R-LaGrange) plan to co-sponsor a resolution in the 2011 general session that would allow voters to decide whether or not the state should give constitutional authority to same-sex marriage.

The current Wyoming law defines marriage as a legal union between a man and woman, but Wyoming also recognizes marriages performed elsewhere.

Petersen said the loophole raises questions about what happens when gay and lesbian couples from other states move into the state.

The proposal would allow Wyoming’s voters to determine whether the state Constitution should define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Supporters say the time is right for the proposal to reappear. A 40-day general session means that there is more time for debate. A conservative majority on both sides of the state legislature also could give the resolution the additional support to pass the motion on to voters.

Representative Ken Esquibel, (D-Cheyenne), said he believes it’s a proposal that does more to make social conservatives feel good than to protect traditional marriage.

“I don’t see how we can call ourselves the Equality State when we are singling out a group of people,” Esquibel said.

Similar legislation failed in 2009.

In September, Wyoming was among ten states that signed onto a legal brief opposing same-sex marriage, claiming a federal court “exceeded its judicial authority” when it ruled that California’s Proposition 8 — the 2008 voter-approved ban on gay marriage — was “unconstitutional.”

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